Page tree
Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

CivTech® making innovation easier in the public sector

 What it means to be a Challenge Sponsor 

CivTech® (Civic Technology) is a programme being run by the Digital Directorate of the Scottish Government to address this problem. It brings together public sector organisations, innovative small companies, academia and citizens in order to co-develop and utilize new public services that are of benefit to all.

Our mission is to harness new technologies to drive daring and innovation in the public sector, and so produce a more prosperous, just, open and equal society (and make people's lives better).

Our vision is to develop a powerhouse of innovative companies delivering global digital products and services that help governments across the world serve their citizens better.

The hypothesis being tested:

  • Posing open questions in the form of Challenges rather than conventionally publishing closed pre-determined technical solution tenders will provide a better source of innovative solutions;

  • Governments can deliver better services to their citizens by harnessing local digital talent in the form of smaller, more innovative, hungrier companies;

  • Adapted procurement rules around the public procurement of innovation will be a suitable vehicle for this approach;

  • With appropriate support and input from citizens, tech SMEs can build innovative solutions to civic Challenges;

  • Collaboration between the Scottish Government’s Digital Directorate and public sector partners, Enterprise Agencies and the Scottish Investment Bank presents an opportunity to enhance digital public service delivery, whilst boosting the Scottish economy and providing investment opportunities;

  • Public sector challenges are the same all over the world, which presents an exciting opportunity to scale companies through exporting their services;

  • A Challenge Sponsor working through the CivTech® Innovation Flow is the best mechanism to deliver this.

A public sector accelerator/collaboration space will facilitate a cross-pollination of innovation across different sectors (Health, Environment, Cyber Security etc.)

Who benefits?

For public sector organisations this means enabling better citizen participation, creating better more useable services, and making your budgets go further by collaborating with the nation’s more innovative businesses.

For these small businesses it means having the opportunity to access new public sector markets in a straightforward way, giving them the opportunity to grow and internationalise their business.

For citizens this means interaction with the public sector is easier, that they have real influence on how we serve them, that it will ultimately make their taxes go further, and that their money is stimulating the nation’s innovative talent.

For the nation, CivTech® offers an idea and a product that can be taken to the world to highlight its innovation, creativity and enterprise proposition, and can become a clear national ‘differentiator’ at world level.

What makes a good Challenge Sponsor?

A quality challenge: The output is a brief that explains the context, articulates the issue, defines success / outcomes and provides an early indication of the potential market opportunity. Given the complexity of the public sector, it can take time to define what the ‘right’ challenges are and understand them well enough to be able to articulate them for appropriate solutions to be produced. So before we publicise them, we would expect a raft of user input and engagement to have been done to help present as much context as possible.

Attitude: we’re looking for the brave - those who recognise we need to procure differently, re-define the relationships we have with partners and citizens, and are willing to try new things out. And with knowledge of the public and private sectors and digital expertise, the CivTech® team will mitigate the risks and reduce them to manageable and minimised ones.

Budget: you need to have budget to procure - you shouldn’t be setting a Challenge unless there is an intent to fund a solution. As we’re operating within sub-OJEU thresholds for the pilot, we’re looking at a maximum procurement of under £106,000 + VAT over 3 years. And if the business fulfils its remit in the accelerator, it would be logical to expect the Challenge Sponsor to utilise the product under the terms of a fully commercial agreement.

Video engagement sessions: As we learned with the CivTech® Pilot, videos are the most powerful tool to engage with our target audience, so…we will need to book in sometime with you and your team to make a short video about your challenge after the release of the Challenge and prior to responses being accepted

Time: This is the way to maximise the chances of a Challenge being delivered most effectively - and for you to have a genuinely great solution on your hands.

Selection and Sifting: This will be the most time consuming aspect of the flow. In order to select the best possible solutions submitted, we need Challenge Sponsors to be highly involved in the selection process. This will likely take between 2 and 3 days, dependent on the number of solutions submitted for your challenge. You will also need to be available for interviews with the respondents.

Exploration Stage: During the 3 weeks of Exploration stage, there will be two day long events, an opening event to welcome and meet all participants and a pitch day at the end.

Accelerator Stage: co-production requires Challenge Sponsors commit to time over the programme in order to maximise the exposure of the accelerator participants to public sector expertise and guidance. This will take up to half a day  a week; face to face is preferable, though remote Skype meetings could be an alternative.


 CivTech®: Challenge form template


Organisation: ……………………………….   Division: ………………………………...


Challenge Title:


Challenge narrative:






Why is your department focused on this challenge?






Has your organisation attempted to procure a solution for this challenge? If yes, why were the solutions scoped not fit for purpose?






What’s in it for bright enthusiastic participants to solve this-  i.e. what is the commercial/procurement opportunity?





Who are the end users?






What does success look like in measurable terms? What specific thing can we measure that tells us that we are building the right product? i.e. an increase of x% of people choosing to do a specific task online vs over the phone or in person. What is the one metric that matters?






What resources are you providing?





Please list the stakeholders that would be involved in this project to whom the development team/accelerator participants would require access.






What would you like to see from the solution?





Are there any systems (software, APIs, databases)  with which the challenge solution will have to be integrated? If yes, do you have the costs of system integration available?

Contact details

For further details about CivTech®, please contact:

Rui Cardoso

Digital Public Services and Business Transformation division

Digital Directorate

Scottish Government

  • No labels