CivTech 3.0 Challenge Applications Incoming!

CivTech 3.0 Challenges

From counterfeit goods and ethical surveillance, to managing public buildings, empowering tenants and increasing outdoor engagement, the new round of CivTech challenges are now open.

Scotland’s incredible, inspirational and innovative CivTech programme is back – and is trying to solve a whole new range of problems facing the public sector.

CivTech 3.0 is working with a wide range of challenge sponsors, including the Scottish Anti-Illicit Trade Group, Glasgow City Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Housing Regulator and Stirling Council to help find new and disruptive ways to solve some very pressing problems.

In the few days since the call opened, Civtech 3.0 has already received a huge number of notes of interest from businesses and individuals keen to develop solutions to everything from trading in illicit goods to increasing the efficiency of NHS waiting times.

Solving Public Sector Problems

If you’ve not come across the CivTech programme before, the premise is fairly simple. The public sector has a problem. The procurement process for making things happen is complex, slow and focused on very specific tasks. It was not designed to be innovative, agile or able to answer ill-defined ‘challenges’. As the CivTech team put it, “It’s hard to procure for something you don’t know exists.”

To solve this, CivTech operates as a start-up incubators. The organisation works with challenge sponsors to identify problems and work out the results and goals which would be beneficial. Entries and ideas are then welcomed from numerous small businesses,  or individuals, who think they can help to solve the problem.

The programme has run very successfully in the past, producing two cohorts of companies which have created solutions for problems as diverse as flooding, air pollution, cyber security, road defects, raptor loss and tourism at ancient sites.

Head of CivTech Alexander Holt said:

“In the short time since we launched this third round challenge, we’ve heard from people right across the UK who are eager to solve the issues that affect the everyday operation of our public sector organisations.

“With budgets under pressure and increasing demand, the need for smart, efficient and effective products is ever greater. And the public sector is increasingly aware that innovation is a good way to create them.

“The Scottish Government is also committed to ensuring that a large part of its tech spend goes to smaller, innovative businesses. This challenge is a gateway to creating solutions to public sector problems as quickly and effectively as possible.

“Our previous two cohorts have gone on to win many public sector contracts, create more jobs and continue to provide benefits for their challenge sponsors.

“For anyone – whether they’re an individual, team or company – it’s an opportunity to take a challenge, solve it, and win contracts with a blue-chip public sector organisation.”

The complete set of challenges for CivTech 3.0 are:

How Can technology Stop Illicit Trading

(In partnership with the Scottish Anti-Illicit Trade Group)

Scotland has an issue with the widespread sale of illicit products. These include everything from stolen goods, to counterfeits and fakes. Consumers are often unaware that they are buying these products, and the repercussion these transactions can have. Illicit products that fail to meet safety and health standards can present significant risks to buyers. Much of the revenue is fed into further illegal activity, that can further erode community resilience and personal safety. How can technology help?

How Can we Collect Data Ethically to Improve Public Transport?

(In partnership with Glasgow City Council)

In many cities public transport is focused on the central district. While this may make it easy to reach the centre of town, it can make it far more challenging to get to somewhere outside that area, like the local health centre. To make improvements, we need understand how and where people travel in the city. Currently there is limited data, but obvious routes to get what we need are either too expensive or problematic when there are major issues around the surveillance economy. How can we collect data ethically, and use it to improve public transport?

How Can Technology Help Improve Services by Better Understanding Investment Requirements for Public Buildings?

(In partnership with Stirling Council)

Stirling Council owns and operates a huge range of public facilities and capital assets, including schools and social housing. However there is a limited understanding of the mechanisms used to manage these assets, and of their true costs. While some of the newer buildings have building information management (BIM) systems, but the majority do not. This means much of the information rests ,uncoordinated and disjointed, in inefficient systems. How can technology help to improve services by better understanding investment requirements for public buildings?

How Can we Use Data to Empower Tenants of Social Rented Housing?

(In partnership with the Scottish Housing Regulator)

Social housing tenants’ choice is constrained. They cannot easily choose to change their landlord the way that consumers can, with other service providers. CivTech wants to empower tenants and maximise their consumer power by unleashing the potential of the data that is hold. How can data be used to empower tenants of social rented housing and drive improvements?

How Can we Use Technology to Enhance Engagement with the Outdoor Environment in Scotland?

(In partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage/Scotland Can Do)

This Challenge is in partnership with the Scotland Can Do Innovation Fund. Mental health, inactivity, disaffection and loneliness are or are becoming major public health problems in Scotland and across the world. A powerful way of combatting these problems can be found in the natural world: people who experience the outdoors – especially when that experience has context and meaning. This ‘natural health service’ has never been so important which is why we’re asking, how can we use technology to enhance engagement with the outdoor environment in Scotland?

How Can we Transform the Re-use of Products for NHS Scotland?

(In partnership with NHS NSS)

Many NHS resources such as crutches, wheelchairs and sleep-apnea machines are used on a temporary or single use basis. Afterwards they’re often either not returned or refurbished, or are simply disposed of – at a cost of £700 million per year. Some 70-80% of them could be refurbished and reused by NHS Scotland. Key to this is a way to keep track of the assets and this does not currently exist. How can we transform refurbishment hubs, and the re-use of products for NHS Scotland?

How Can we Make the NHS Waiting Time System More Efficient and Effective?

(In partnership with NHS NSS)

The NHS has an important requirement to manage the demand and supply of treatment at a local, regional and national level effectively. It puts great demand on these services and even greater need to manage them well.

Matching available health service capacity to demand is a long-recognised challenge that affects health boards in Scotland. We need a team that can bring a completely new point of view to the problem and bring a product or technologies that have the potential to scale across Scotland.

How Can we Improve the Monitoring of Staff Satisfaction, Happiness and Engagement?

(In partnership with the Digital Directorate, The Scottish Government)

Staff engagement is a key performance of the Scottish Government. We want and value happy, motivated staff, who have a clear understanding of how their work contributes to the objectives of the Scottish Government.

Until now we have relied upon an annual, online survey. Consideration has been given to repeating all, or key elements, of that survey on a more regular basis, but nothing has been procured to date. So how can we improve the monitoring of staff satisfaction, happiness and engagement?

How Can we Use Technology and Data to Improve the Reach and Quality of Public Engagement in the Planning System?

(In partnership with Digital Planning, The Scottish Government)

Scotland is determined to create a world leading digital planning system. The current system is in need of development to take advantage of all the advances in technology over the past decade. This Challenge is focused on supporting engagement, particularly at the early stage when local plans are being developed and there is the greatest opportunity to influence the outcome of the process.

There’s the opportunity to enhance understanding of the planning process, and encourage collaboration from the outset. So, how can we use technology and data to improve the reach and quality of public engagement in the planning system?

How Can we Use Technology to Help Young People Manage Their Digital Footprint?

(In partnership with 5 Rights Youth Leadership Group)

5Rights is a UK-wide initiative that seeks to enable young people to access the digital world creatively, knowledgeably and fearlessly. It aims to ensure the rights young people are already entitled to offline are also realised online.

These are not easy things to achieve given the online world is a multiplicity of ever-evolving platforms and channels. As much as the use of tech has created these issues, tech can also enable solutions. So how can we help young people review and manage their digital footprints?


The CivTech 3.0 Challenges will open on Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) on Monday 11th June. CivTech is advising companies to register their interest on PCS to stay up to date with the latest news and have access to the the Q&A system, and the electronic postbox where applications are submitted.

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