Tech solutions to support the environment in Scotland are being sought through a national innovation accelerator programme.

CivTech – the Scottish Government’s flagship procurement programme to match tech sector expertise to public sector ‘challenges’ – will focus heavily on net zero for its next cohort.

Four nature-themed challenges were unveiled at the COP27 climate change summit in Egypt, following a £2.6m government commitment to support ‘evidence-based’ green technologies.

The challenges were announced at ‘finance day’ at the Sharm El Sheikh event, with discussions focused on finance as a catalyst for progress on all aspects of the global climate agenda.

It will examine how public and private finance can fund the development of infrastructure, technology and innovation to turn billions of public money into trillions of total climate investment. Worth £650,000 each, the nature-themed challenges are part of CivTech’s first official partnership programme with NatureScot, the government agency responsible for Scotland’s natural heritage, called ‘Innovate for Nature.’

CivTech is the world’s first government-run accelerator for digital public services. The latest set of challenges are supported by £6m of Scottish Government funding, bringing together public finance with private sector innovation to solve major challenges facing the public and third sector in Scotland. It also supports tech innovators to grow their own business and industry profile. 

In 2021’s CivTech 6, alumni companies have already collectively received £2.5m in follow-on contracts, and there is up to £6m available to the companies on CivTech 7 and 8. Innovate for Nature will sit within CivTech 8, the recently launched second full accelerator programme running in tandem with CivTech 7. 

Scottish Government business minister Ivan McKee said: “The Scottish Government’s £6m funding this year has enabled rapid growth of the CivTech programme, demonstrating demand and appetite for Government-backed tech accelerators.

“Not only does this programme create practical solutions to real life problems, it is a proven springboard for many businesses to further develop their products and find even greater success within their field.

“The Scottish Government is nurturing innovative solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the public sector while tackling climate change. The National Strategy for Economic Transformation is helping create innovative green jobs and contributing to reaching net zero by 2045.” 

Jane Macdonald, NatureScot’s director of business services and transformation, said: “Nature loss and climate change are two of the biggest threats we face, and so it’s crucial we respond to these challenges urgently. Innovate for Nature is helping us to do this by changing the way we work, using the CivTech Accelerator to harness digital innovation and helping us to collaborate with partners at speed to understand the issues and identify workable solutions. We are excited to be at the forefront of the Innovate for Nature missions, and cannot wait to get started with CivTech 8.”