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CivTech: Challenging, Disrupting, Innovating

Brian Baglow


CivTech Demo Day

With a focus on solving problems and disrupting the public sector through the creative, innovative and agile use of technology, CivTech is one of the country’s most interesting initiatives.

On Wednesday January 10, the CivTech 2.0 demo day took place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. It was, put simply, inspirational.

Nine new companies showcased their products and services, all aimed at solving real-world problems, through the innovative use of technology. Forget more efficient spreadsheets or enhanced productivity in invoice processing, we’re talking everything from reducing missed appointments in the health service, counting and analysing visitor numbers at historic sites and protecting endangered raptors (the birds, not the dinosaurs).


If you’re not familiar with CivTech, the goal is quite simple. It plans to “use digital technology to improve public sector services, win contracts, build business – and along the way make everyone’s life a bit better.”

The public sector is not generally noted as a hotbed of digital innovation, CivTech aims to change that, by inviting small agile companies and SME’s to address ‘challenges’ and solve pressing problems. It encourages a lean and agile way of thinking, bringing the best aspects of the start-up scene to bear on issues which the public sector may have been struggling with for years.

It’s a bold initiative. Disruptive in its own right and showing a pioneering sensibility which proves that Scotland can indeed innovate and use rapidly evolving technologies to help make everyone’s life – not just those in Scotland, but globally – a bit better.

Run by the relentlessly enthusiastic and endlessly inspiring Alexander Holt, CivTech shows the potential for transformation in the public sector and highlights the fact that some really very cool stuff is happening here in Scotland.


The CivTech demo day was the programme’s annual showcase for participating companies. Each of the participants was given a chance to pitch their idea to an audience of several hundred people and explain exactly how they’re going to make your life that bit better.

Opened by Paul Wheelhouse MSP, the Minister for Business, Innovation & Energy, the demo day introduced the programme’s most recent round of challenges – and the companies creating solutions for them.

Nine companies took part in the second CivTech Cohort, each focusing on a particular challenge. Over the course of the morning the audience heard from:


Challenge: How do we counter raptor persecution?

Birds of prey are still being killed in Scotland. What can be done to stop it? Rapungi has seriously miniaturised raptor monitoring system, which will pick up a raptor’s death and transmits immediate, accurate location information, allowing a monitoring team to spring into action.

Replicade Ltd.

Challenge: How can we monitor visitor numbers to historic sites (especially unmanned ones)?

Replicade is working on a solution to produce a low-power, all-weather asynchronous data-logging device with network connectivity to an enterprise-level infrastructure. The solution is focused on a non-intrusive, low power and robust product suitable for the Historic Environment Scotland’s many and varied locations.

Oxido Ltd

Challenge: How can we better use and understand citizen data?

A great deal of the publicly accessible data in Scotland is fragmented and siloed on different platforms and data sets. Oxido’s solution delivers a user-centric web-platform focused on three core capabilities – exploring, comparing and interacting. The solution will simplify access to and engagement with official statistics, and allow users to contribute to the data sets contained in the solution.

Lumera Health

Challenge: How can we create a smarter booking system for outpatient appointments?

The NHS has over 500,000 missed outpatient appointments every year, costing around £150 each. Improving this could save up to £65 million. Lumera is creating a flexible, online booking system for outpatients. It aims to reduce time lost from patients failing to attend their appointments and explore alternative pathways to ensure patient specific healthcare needs are met by the right person at the right time in the right place.

WallScope Ltd.

Challenge: How can we use technology to provide better access to public services through

Wallscope’s technology makes it easier to search, discover and link data in real time, leading users through a maze of information to discover new and unexpected insights. Wallscope’s solution uses a linked data store specifically aimed at Annotation and auto-tagging tools will be embedded within a platform to provide intelligent assistive technologies for content curators, enabling engagement and collaboration between organisations and their service users.


Challenge: How can we use technology to provide better access to public services through

Voxsio’s solution is centred on a Virtual Citizen Assistant (VCA), which will be embedded on and use conversational search to clarify and provide context for a citizen’s enquiry. The VCA will identify three contextual cues – the stage the user is at currently, the user’s emotional state and the topic the user is concerned about – to rapidly deliver the kind of results and information that the user requires.

Deep Miner Ltd

Challenge: How can we harness the power of data to create the most positive perception of Scotland across the world?

The Deep Miner solution uses state-of-the-art data science to decrease the time and effort required to find stories relating to Scotland, then predict direct investment opportunities, match Scottish capabilities to potential investors and from there develop sales propositions. Mobile

Challenge: How can we better understand our data to improve all aspects of services?’s solution provides a single and continuously evolving view of the customer’s actual needs, and will help the council understand how well it is doing in terms of meeting these needs. Existing sources and newly collected data will be aggregated and analysed, and presented to users through smart and easily-understood data visualisation.


Challenge: How can we better understand our data to improve all aspects of services?

Wittin’s solution focuses on the power that big data has when it is released in secure, anonymised and usable formats. It harnesses the power of citizen science to analyse the data and discover new insights – potentially creating new, radical avenues to explore and markedly improve everything the public bodies do.

Global Opportunties

Of course, the opportunities and challenges being addressed by the CivTech companies are not confined to Scotland. Governments, local authorities and organisations worldwide are facing the same issues.

Interest in the programme is growing, with government departments across the country watching this bold new initiative. It’s a fantastic example of  pioneering work being carried out here in Scotland.

DIGIT will be bringing you more from CivTech in the near future.

Movers and shakers

Brian Baglow


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