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Latest trends in Scotland’s digital health innovation

EHTEL’s new series of webinars on digital health-related  local markets and local trends  in EHTEL members’ countries and regions began on 7 September 2023. The event was attended by 42 people, of whom half were EHTEL members and half were guests. Many came from Scotland, other European countries like Denmark and Italy, and other United Kingdom (UK) home countries like Wales: they represented a mix of governmental and digital health authorities, industry, and individual patients.

The speakers in the first webinar were from Scotland,  and they focused on two aspects of  innovation and innovation hubs: “Scotland’s orchestration of innovation: Enabling infrastructure”. 


Scotland has got great expertise in improving and innovating in health and social care. It tackles all the key challenges at stake in service delivery. Among the approaches are co-design, co-development and co-delivery, and the provision of end-to-end support. It works with a very large community of teams and partnerships. Much of its work focuses on a test bed infrastructure  – a platform for testing approaches, tools, and technologies.

Who were the speakers?

Marc Lange welcomed attendees the trends in local markets webinar series. He outlined EHTEL’s role as a collaboration platform on digital health, and how its webinar series can offer an opportunity for people who are implementing digital health to meet and learn from each other. The series enables EHTEL members to place the spotlight on their own region or country, and point to ideas for new collaborations or partnerships.

Nessa Barry introduced the two speakers, Barbara Mills and David Lowe. 

👀 Watch the video below to see the presentations: 

All about CivTech

Barbara Mills detailed the role of CivTech, a Scottish Government programme that brings together three sectors of society – public, private, and third sector – to build solutions that will make people’s lives better. The programme is “mission-focused”.



Barbara outlined the Scottish Government context behind CivTech. She emphasised Scotland’s focus on the digital sector, especially on “pull” innovation (rather than “push” innovation), and on ways to get innovators working with, and in, Scotland more effectively. The approach helps Scotland to procure solutions for societal problems.

CivTech uses an approach based on open  Innovation Challenges  which is open to everyone – including individuals. CivTech has been asked to help to resolve many different types of societal challenges in Scotland, including in the health sector. It has now reached Round 9 of its challenges. This latest, ninth, challenge call closed on 22 August 2023. Look ahead to CivTech’s next set of challenges, which will open in spring 2024!

The various stages in CivTech's Innovation Flow process include e.g., exploration, pitching on an accelerator, the enabling of a minimum viable product, and accompaniment by a “challenge sponsor”. The process enables innovators to test and pilot the solutions developed to come to a pre-commercial stage. CivTech holds “demo days”.

CivTech uses this process to leverage economic development: it permits innovators to reach out to the rest of Scotland, the UK, Europe, as well as the world. The solution providers have mostly involved micro-enterprises and small- and medium-sized enterprises. So far, some 83 challenges have created over 300 jobs, and companies have raised some £67 million in investment.

Scotlands achievements

Barbara came to a close by focusing on a challenge related to assisting women in relation to their health particularly around the menopause, so that they can access “the right support for their individual needs at the right time”.

Much more information on CivTech is located here. Meanwhile, Connecting Scotland helps everyone in Scotland to get online through its many phases of activity.


During the discussion with Barbara, keen interest was shown on many different topics and many questions were asked. They included how solutions that originate from outside Scotland can get involved in CivTech challenges; the extent to which Scotland tackles accessibility as a challenge for e.g., people with disabilities; what are the appropriate channels/audiences with which to communicate CivTech opportunities; and the extent to which CivTech’s solutions are used beyond the early stages of being a minimum viable product or simply a demonstration.

All about the Scottish Health Innovation Partnership

David Lowe’s presentation offered an overview of the wider innovation landscape in Scotland and the infrastructure and architecture Scotland uses to innovate. He concentrated on the Scottish Health Innovation Partnership (SHIP). He shared what Scotland has  done so far. He went on to discuss  specific use cases that illustrate how innovations are being taken forward in Scotland. David also highlighted Scotland’s current and future calls for involvement, and particularly collaboration with international players.



The presentation started with the health challenges of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart failure, which are responsible for some 70% of Scotland’s healthcare costs and involve 30% of its patients.

As a result, Scotland has shown a keen interest in machine learning/artificial intelligence (AI) to help to support case findings and with the risk stratification of disease. This background context oriented towards data and AI fits with the shift towards a new model for healthcare structured around the community and care at home.

The challenge

Scotland has identified six potential blockers to adoption, which are leadership, coordination, evidence, consistency, scalability, and money.

The country works with many different types of stakeholders and using several different academic disciplines/areas of research.

The presentation outlined how the West of Scoltand's innovation hub the helps with finding digital solutions. In the context of Scotland’s approaches to innovating and realising value, this Innovation Hub offers clinical staff space/time out of their busy working environment to take up various fellowship opportunities. Also described were: the organisational transitioning between technical readiness levels to business readiness or service readiness; and how the country’s Health Data Exchange Platform works.

Scotland responds to the various health and care challenges it is facing through the use of exemplar projects: examples include projects on respiratory conditions and heart failure. The projects/initiatives help to validate AI solutions. Three examples of digitally-enabled care were outlined, e.g., for high-risk COPD and lung cancer diagnosis. Scotland’s trialling of a drone-enabled medical logistics network, called CAELUS, was also cited. CAELUS’s aim is, e.g., to get replacement blood to people in isolated rural settings.

Scottish partnership

Recent Scottish work has been undertaken with e.g., large international pharmaceutical companies and with countries like Denmark. In the context of wider European and international collaboration, David was able to announce the breaking news that the UK will now be associated with Horizon Europe for the rest of the programme duration.


The discussion on the work of SHIP included clinical, technical, and infrastructure aspects. For example, it covered the implications of using some of the solutions regarding heart failure; whether data availability or data quality ever act as blockers to the development of innovations; whether there is any complexity involved in moving from using the European Union’s Medical Device Regulation(s) to UK equivalents; what infrastructure capacity is needed for storage and computation, and whether this is National Health Service infrastructure or that of trusted third parties; and – last but not least – opportunities to learn from the experiences of the Scottish AI Alliance (e.g., it currently organises a free, five-week course on Living with AIfor the people of Scotland).

There was certainly keen interest in the potential for collaboration opportunities with other regions and countries. Parallels were drawn with the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Centre for Excellence in Wales. It similarly identifies and resolves unmet needs in health and well-being and organises competitions for industry to work with the centre on developing solutions.

Later in 2023

The webinar ended with the invitation to watch out later in autumn 2023 for similar types of webinars from Denmark and Norway. Second up in this webinar series on 23 November 2023, is Denmark.

One other event of interest to EHTEL members is likely to be the Symposium day on 29 November 2023.


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