Public Procurement and Property

CivTech – harnessing the economic potential of our innovation nation!

April 21, 2022 by No Comments | Category CivTech, Guest Blog, innovation

To celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Day (21 April), we welcome a guest blog from CivTech Scotland on understanding innovation and using tech for good.

At CivTech, our mission is to drive daring and innovation in the public sector by collaboratively solving challenges that make people’s lives better – and in doing so create generations of sustainable, high growth businesses.

We achieve this by taking problems public sector organisations experience, and solving them in collaboration with innovative businesses. We take approaches like open challenges and tech accelerators, common in the private tech sector but rare in the public sector — that are doing so much to transform the world we live in. And, in adopting and adapting these approaches, we’re harnessing the potential of the tech revolution to serve a central purpose — tech for good.

Take a look at some of the challenges and solutions we’ve worked on previously.

Encouraging innovation is a big part of our job. But how can this be done?

Understanding innovation

It’s important to understand the meaning of innovation. There’s an awful lot of complication put out there about what it is, but in truth, it’s simple. It’s what occurs when someone improves on or makes a significant contribution to an existing invention, product, process or service.

Equally, it’s important to understand what innovation isn’t. It’s not invention, where there’s the creation of a product or introduction of a process for the first time.

Photo of the first model of iPhone

DMstudio House/Shutterstock

A great example of innovation is the smartphone. When Apple launched their first one in 2007, there was absolutely nothing in it that was in any way ‘new’. The components, such as LCD screens, processors, the battery and the telephone elements were mainstream tech. So was the music player.

But it was the combination of these things that made the iPhone so innovative. Suddenly we had small computers in our pockets that just happened to play music and make calls.

Innovation is about exploring the possibilities that exist in new technologies and knowledge to radically alter and improve the way things are done.

And to consider the difference between invention and innovation, think about the wheel. As far as we know, this was invented some 5,000 years ago, and we’ve been innovating it ever since. From the huge, roughly hewn, crude ‘chunks of wood’ that formed the original design, through countless iterations to all sorts of modern, elegant, diverse and efficient designs we have now.

The inventors of the wheel from 5,000 years ago would undoubtedly be amazed at the sight of a modern wheel for a bike. They’d be stunned by how light yet strong it was; the notion of ‘spokes’ might astound them, that something so thin could be so strong. They wouldn’t understand the technologies used to produce it, its steel and carbon fibre composition.

But undoubtedly, they’d recognise in its shape, the thing they invented.

Historically, the way we innovate has stayed much the same over time. It all starts with a need, and the exploration of possibilities. And it always starts with an open question:

How might we improve this?

Understand the problem

Innovation occurs when you identify and understand the problem that needs to be fixed. Ideas for new technology, products and services are all very well, but if they do not solve a problem that will make someone’s life better, in any way, then what is the point?

Understand your problem, the impact it causes and why it needs to be fixed. Then communicate this problem well to the widest possible audience of people who have the skills and experience to help you fix it.

Any individual, team, innovator, entrepreneur, small or large business – literally anyone – can offer a solution.

Why spread the net so wide? Because you don’t know where the right idea might come from.

CivTech 7 Challenges will open on Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) in late May 2022 and are open for anyone to apply. Register your interest on PCS to stay up to date with the latest news and have access to the Q&A system, and the electronic postbox where applications are submitted.

Good luck!

Thank you very much, CivTech Scotland! We’re excited to see the new challenges revealed and the true power of innovation in Scotland harnessed!

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