Scottish Business, Energy and Innovation Minister Paul Wheelhouse today launched the new Scotland CAN DO innovation fund.
The fund has been created by the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Funding Council. Administered by Scottish Enterprise, it has £9.2 million to award over the next four years.
The process begins with public sector organisations across Scotland creating an open innovation challenge which defines a complex problem that currently has no available solution.
Challenges are then opened to companies of any size. Academic organisations and third sector organisations such as NGOs can also apply to become challenge solvers, as long as they show how they will commercialise any solution they develop.
The first challenge round attracted 43 expressions of interest from a broad range of public sector organisations. From those, the fund team selected five problems, which companies and organisations can now work on solving.
- Edinburgh City Council – Smart electric vehicle charging solutions
- Glasgow City Council – Technology enabled Glasgow
- NHS Highland – Automation and sustainability of pre-cleaning reusable surgical instruments
- Scottish Water – Effective and reliable point-of-use water treatment for organic rich surface waters
- South Ayrshire Council – Agile and self-powered public space CCTV cameras
A pilot scheme, running with NHS Scotland, led to Scottish companies securing £345,000, more than 50% of the total funding.
Innovation To Grow
Mr Wheelhouse said: “This new £9.2 million fund will provide public sector agencies with the opportunity to find innovative private sector led solutions to challenges they face.
“Scotland’s innovation performance has improved in recent years, but there is more to do to meet our long term ambitions, which are to see Scotland as a recognised leader in the development, commercialisation and adoption of cutting edge products and services.
“As well as our Innovation Action Plan, the First Minister announced £45 million increase in R&D grant funding over the next three financial years in the latest Programme for Government.
“Our ambition is clear – to create a culture in Scotland that supports businesses to use innovation to grow, all underpinned by a clear, easy to navigate, well-connected system of information, advice and support.”
Jim Watson, director of innovation and enterprise services at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Increasing business innovation is critical to maintaining Scotland’s global competitiveness. The Can Do Innovation Challenge Fund is a powerful tool for us to help smaller businesses collaborate with large organisations they may not otherwise have access to, and provide funding to develop their ideas.
“We’re making excellent progress in encouraging more Scottish businesses to embrace innovation to open up new global markets, with Scottish companies securing over half of the recent R&D funding contracts with NHS Scotland to drive innovative patient care.
We know from other open innovation schemes that participating businesses increase their sales by around 30%. We want to support many more businesses to embed innovation as part of their business strategy and this new Fund is a fantastic route to help us achieve this.”
Full details of the fund, the current challenges and details of how to apply can be found on the Scotland CAN DO innovation fund challenge page on the Scottish Enterprise website.