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The CivTech® Innovation Flow

The CivTech® Innovation Flow is simply the process that takes public sector Challenges through to products and services that can be used [and bought] by the Challenge Sponsor. The illustration above might seem complicated, but it's actually a simple five stage process with an additional post-CivTech® accelerator stage of national and international business development. Everything's been designed to make developing a product as effectively as possible, and to map the tech development process as seamlessly as possible onto the public procurement process.


Stage One: the Challenges get defined

A Challenge is simply a problem which a public sector organisation would like solved. The Challenge Sponsor - the organisation setting the problem - will pose the Challenge as an open question (can you find a solution to this problem?) rather than target a pre-determined solution (we have this problem and we want you to build this answer!). This way a Challenge can stimulate the innovative power of the nation, finding potential solutions to seemingly impossible problems.

Challenges will be specific. We’re not talking about huge infrastructure projects that require vast teams and millions of pounds to address. Instead, we’re talking about things that, with ingenuity and innovation, can make a real and positive improvements to the delivery of a public service, and so to people’s lives. And it’ll be specific to one part of the public sector, and more than likely one public sector organisation. So the challenge will be focused, a clear goal, and there’ll be expert input readily available. But we’ve also worked hard to ensure that while the Challenge Sponsor might be one organisation, the problem is a general one – so that a successful solution will have a large market potential. Which, given the insight you’ll gain on the programme, you’ll know how to tackle.

They come from different areas of the public domain including health, justice, enterprise, and environment.

See the full list of Challenges here. 


Stage Two: Application

With the Challenges published with full background documentation, submissions will be possible during the Application Window.  

Anyone can apply. You could be an existing company with a team and a product that is ready to be repurposed to answer the challenge. Or a group of graduates with a great demo. Or a digital team that’s looking for a great idea to get involved with. Or even the reverse - an individual with no digital background but with real insight into the challenge and a cracking idea but can put together a great support team. We’ll be holding a number of events to publicise the challenges, and for you to learn more about the possibilities. 

We've made the application process as simple, straightforward and easy as we can!

The CivTech® application window will be opening soon!

Find out how to apply here.

Stage Three: the Exploration Stage

We'll assess submissions on a consistent and coherent basis, and based on the scoring select, for each Challenge, three potential solutions to go through to the Exploration Stage. Each team will receive £3,000 for work during this stage. This stage will last three weeks and we'll be asking teams to develop their idea further, engage with the CivTech® team and the Challenge Sponsor. We will also be running a number of workshops which you will be expected to attend. At the end of the Exploration Stage, teams will make a formal pitch. See below for the key principles, though to participate you must sign the full terms and conditions of the Exploration stage.

 Exploration stage key principles
  • Payment: £3000 (plus VAT if applicable) per team
  • Teams do not have to be formal companies - Challenge Sponsors will pay a nominated person
  • Intellectual Property: must be assigned to an entity of Participants' choosing in order reduce scope for disputes later - see the IP waiver document.
  • Duration: 3 weeks
  • Location: non-specific, though expect to visit Challenges Sponsors' offices and the workshops held in the CivTech® studio in CodeBase.


Stage Four: the CivTech® Accelerator

The CivTech® Accelerator will be three months of innovation, experiment, development and production; of weeks crammed with great workshops, talks and mentors; of team and business building; of product building; of developing real and lasting relationships with public sector organisations – the first clients for your product; and for sure, of ups and downs. And all of this in a supportive yet demanding environment in the heart of Edinburgh. So you will be required to relocate the product delivery team for three months. This is key - we need everyone in the room to test one of our hypotheses about the cross-pollination of innovation.

Each team completing the Accelerator will receive £17,000 (ex vat), with no hidden charges, and no equity or IP stakes being taken. 

The CivTech® Accelerator is both backed and endorsed by the Scottish Government. It has committed the public sector in Scotland to hugely increase the amount of products and services it buys from small businesses – so the timing’s great. And it’s assembled an impressive team of people from both the public and private sectors to implement the Accelerator. Designed by people with massive experience of start-up, acceleration, growth and accelerators it’ll have everything you’ll need to succeed. With a massive workshop programme we’ll be covering everything to know about starting up and growing a tech business as fast and as successfully as possible. The programme is highly flexible too – so whether you’re a compete beginner in terms of business, or an established SME with a new product idea or a product that can be re-engineered, you’ll find a fit with everything going on.

It's at this stage the teams will start to engage with a number of Scottish Government requirements, including:

Scottish Approach to service design: ensuring that you design the product/service well from the start and, with the help of the Challenge Sponsor, engage with the right people up front, particularly end users and citizens for public facing products.

Agile product development: the CivTech® Innovation Flow will require product development using agile methodologies [characterised by short, rapid incremental development] - and we'll be making sure everyone becomes familiar with these during the Accelerator stages.

Digital First Standards: new products and services should be developed in line with the Scottish Government's Digital First Standards to ensure a coherence and consistency. These standards have been designed in line with industry best practice - and are broadly comparable to standards that apply to other Governments - so this should impact positively on commercialisation.

Systems Integration: the solution being the developed is very likely to have to be integrated with the Challenge Sponsor's current IT systems, and this may raise some issues related to APIs, licences or technology compatibility. All Challenge Sponsors are aware that they will have to ensure that a functional integration with all the component systems is possible and practically achievable.

The CivTech® Accelerator will also prepare you for working with and winning business from the public sector. Things are changing here: as part of its commitment to buy from small businesses the Scottish Government is changing the procurement system. So if you’re on the Accelerator, you’ll be among the first to find out how this is going to happen, and among the first to learn how to do it. With massive experience of both the public and private sectors on hand, and deep understanding of how best to work at their interface for you to tap into, the CivTech® Accelerator represents perhaps the most powerful route into a huge, previously hard-to-enter sector.

3 months to solve a problem, build a business, and do good along the way... 

See below for the key principles, though to participate you must sign the full terms and conditions of the Accelerator stage

 Accelerator stage key principles
  • Payment: £17,000 (plus VAT if applicable) per team
  • Teams must be formal companies - we strongly recommend seeking legal advice and being prepared for this stage so that payment can be made promptly to a business bank account if participants have formed/are planning to form a new company
  • Intellectual Property: this will reside with the Participant company
  • Equity: Challenge Sponsors will take no equity
  • Duration: three months
  • Location: CodeBase in central Edinburgh. Expect to travel to Challenge Sponsors' offices at times. Presence throughout the Accelerator is a condition of programme participation.
  • Workshops: Compulsory (unless otherwise agreed)



Stage Five: Post-accelerator pre-commercial development 

At the end of the Accelerator successful teams will have an MVP. And the Challenge Sponsor will be looking to extend their relationship with you into the Product Progression stage, in which you'll further develop the solution you've created, test it robustly and prepare it for full commercial exploitation. 

 Pre-commercial stage key principles
  • Payment: further contracts available for up to a total value of £85,000 (plus VAT if applicable) per team depending on milestones being achieved
  • Intellectual Property: this will reside with the Participant company
  • Equity: Challenge Sponsors will take no equity
  • Licensing: post-commercial deployment the Challenge Sponsor is entitled to a royalty free licence
  • Duration: tbc
  • Location: your choice


Stage Six: national and international commercialisation

Once the product is commercially viable, the Challenge Sponsor will receive an in-perpetuity royalty free licence. Essentially, they will have given companies the best leg up possible so further funding for post-commercial development will come from other clients. In the private sector environment, it's pretty normal for companies emerging from an accelerator to look to grow and build from their initial customer base as fast and effectively as possible. If the business is genuinely capable of scaling a number of things will happen relatively fast: turnover will grow, staff numbers will increase, expertise in terms of mentors and advisors will be brought in to further fuel that growth, and investment will be raised in a number of rounds of increasing size through a variety of sources including individual investment angels, investment syndicates, and venture capital. New versions of the product will be developed and sold. New services and products will also be developed and taken to market. It may form alliances with major corporations and other organisations. And its reach will spread nationally, across Europe, and into international markets.

With a great product, and that vital first customer, we firmly believe businesses coming out of the CivTech® Innovation Flow will have the potential to follow the same trajectory. And this is where Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Investment Bank and other support channels will get involved, to help to drive the businesses forward - to their benefit, the citizens’ benefit, and the nation's benefit...


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