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CivTech: Scotland to digitize licensing, opens up tech spend to SMEs

Scotland's government has announced nine digitization tenders worth £10 million for its CivTech challenge.

Scotland's government is keen to ensure SMEs are central to IT procurement opportunities with the ninth edition of its CivTech programme.

The programme is more than just an accelerator, explains Alexander Holt, Head of Emerging Opportunities and Partnership.

It answers a key question for public agencies, says Holt, the question being "how do you procure what you don’t know exists?”

Scotland's devolved government has now opened up a series of 'challenges' to public sector organisations and private firms.

These are focused on supporting the Scottish Digital Directorate's innovation goals, including building resilience to cyber-crime.

Scotland's tech spending has grown by 82% in the last three years, with the Digital Directorate spend increasing from £24.8 million in FY 2019/20 to an estimated £45.4 million during FY 2021/22.

Earlier this year, the Scottish government announced that it would be supporting the CivTech programme with £46 million worth of funding over the next four years, with £10 million dedicated to the 2023 challenges announced on June 23.

The programme is a public-private partnership, with its funding bolstered by both Scottish government funding and sponsorships from public sector firms.

Previous sponsors include NatureScot and Scottish Wildlife Trust along with Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID), Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate of the Scottish Government.

Touted as a 'public sector focused accelerator', the CivTech challenges are set to support Scotland's digitizing ambitions.

£650,000, for example, is available to firms that can offer solutions for increasing public uptake and trust in 'ScotAccount', an existing platform that centralizes the biometric and ID functions required to access some public services in the country.

Speaking at a March 2023 event for the programme, Ivan McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise for Scotland called the public sector accelerator a 'timely' intervention into modernising Scottish governance, with its solutions creating impact that  "extends far beyond the tech scene in Scotland."

"Don’t give us a solution you think you need, but give us a problem you think you have," is Holt's approach to the setup of CivTech's challenges.