Risk-taking is not a trait commonly associated with the public sector but a pilot project by the Scottish Government is intent on changing that perception.
The CivTech pilot is the brainchild of Alexander Holt who is looking for Scottish innovators and entrepreneurs to come up with unique solutions to six public sector challenges.
In 2016, the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, there is no better time to bring together private sector innovation, public sector organisations and citizens to develop efficient and effective products.
“It’s open and collaborative rather than closed and prescriptive,” explains Holt.
“We have not done this before. This is about changing mindsets.
“It’s about getting people to not just think differently but to do differently. For the public sector, it’s about providing access to talented people who otherwise wouldn’t get involved.”
Challenge sponsors including Transport Scotland, National Services Scotland and SEPA have put forward six problems with the aim of attracting innovative solutions from teams and individuals.
For each challenge a shortlist will be drawn up with three teams progressing to the exploration stage during which each will be paid £2,000 to develop the idea.
One solution provider will then be selected for each challenge to continue to the accelerator stage, further developing the idea over a three-month period with £15,000 of funding. Participants will keep the equity and their intellectual property. Finally, a pre-commercialisation stage allows for further funding and field testing prior to a full product launch.
“We are hoping to attract businesses from across the country because this is an amazing opportunity,” says Holt.
He points to the opportunities in sharing the innovative ideas generated across sectors – even globally – and the potential of commercialisation.
“The government can support talented entrepreneurs in delivering their visions for helping solve societal problems through collaboration.
“If we get this right, we will change the mindset of people within the public sector and our business community. The ultimate beneficiary will be our citizens who get better public services,” says Holt.
“Of course, there’s a risk of failure, but as innovators know, it’s part of what they do. And we’re determined to try different ways of doing things.
“Who says that doing things differently is just the domain of the private sector?” n
The deadline for applications is Monday, 1 August. For full details on how to apply visit civtech.atlassian.net/wiki
This feature was produced in partnership with CivTech.