The CivTech Demo day 3.0 at EICC saw eleven dynamic companies present their innovative solutions to a variety of challenges ranging from mental well-being to the sustainable use of resources, set by the challenge sponsors in 2018.
In his welcome address, Alexander Holt, Head of the CivTech Programme emphasised on the need to ditch conventional procurement processes and open the debate to general public- What can people like you and me do to tackle the challenges in the public sector. It is not only innovation in product and procurement process which is required to tackle these challenges, but also an entrepreneurial mindset in the least non-entrepreneurial environment i.e. the government. CivTech seeks to promote this entrepreneurial mindset and the application of entrepreneurial mindet to find solutions to public sector problems.
Sandy Kennedy, Chief Executive of Entrepreneurial Scotland spoke about the shift from the traditional definition of an ‘entrepreneur’ and how developing an entrepreneurial mindset at workplace regardless of the industry or sector can lead to more job creation, more wealth and taxes and can provide solutions to global problems.
Since 2018 was Scotland’s Year of Young people, it was very uplifting to see that a number of companies presented prototypes of their ideas targeting challenges faced by young people.
In this age of internet and digitization, it is no surprise that 83 per cent of twelve to fifteen year olds have a smartphone and 64 per cent of fifteen to eighteen year olds have four or more devices. As young people face data saturation never faced before, challenge sponsors Young Scot feel that there is a need for a centralized online point for young people to review and control their digital footprints. Edinburgh based software company Diddo has designed a software which allows young people to understand the data that is held about them and where it is exposed on social media and other online platforms, allowing them to manage their digital life.
With 2 out of 3 young people in Scotland not talking about their mental health, challenge sponsors NHS National Services Scotland and Stirling Council are trying to open a wider dialogue where young people without any hesitation can discuss their mental health. To combat this problem, Edinburgh based Voxsio has created a messaging platform Alli-Chat which delivers AI driven conversations about mental wellbeing in an accessible way, helping young people discover verified, relevant information and support.
On the lines of increasing use of digital devices and mental health issues among young people, challenge sponsors Scottish Natural Heritage want to explore the use of tech to connect young people to nature and enhance their experience of the outdoors. Oxido provides the perfect solution through their app platform that lets users create their own outdoor adventures anywhere. As research shows that 0.5 hours spent outdoors every week can reduce mental health issues by 25 per cent, this app can help young people to relieve stress by enjoying, exploring and understanding nature.
Other challenges around healthcare sponsored by NHS NSS and sustainability across NHS sponsored by NHS Scotland saw notable contributions from Glasgow based COHESION and Ditto Sustainability. COHESION offers data driven solution to automate and optimize demand management for hospital services, thus reducing waiting time by 17 per cent among patients. Ditto Sustainability aims to reduce waste, encourage efficiency and extend the lifecycle of resources by embedding Circular economy principles in NHS which will increase the reuse of resources at NHS by 60 per cent.
Another challenge which poses a major threat to legitimate businesses and communities, discussed at the event was the use of tech to stop illicit trade, sponsored by Scottish Anti Illicit Trade Group. To address this issue, Get Market Fit has built a data driven warning system which scores the likelihood of an online product being fake and triggers messages highlighting the risks to the consumer so they can make an informed decision on whether to proceed with the purchase.
Other trailblazing companies that presented their ideas to revolutionise public services in Scotland included feedback and engagement platform Trickle; PlaceBuilder app by The Future Fox promoting community engagement in digital planning; Homelync which aims to bring a change in social housing; Inclued by Mydex which delivers service offers to citizens and HuddleAI by Active Information Design that provides tenants and landlords with the information they need.
The eleven teams, with their solutions to the challenges, showed that great outcomes can be achieved through innovation, determination and hard work. It also shows that collaboration between entrepreneurs, public service sponsors and citizens can create the best possible solution and a business capable of taking that solution to the world.
We can’t wait for CivTech 4.0!