CAN DO Innovation Challenge Fund

Scotland’s public bodies can receive up to 100% funding to support the development of innovative solutions to challenges with no current market solution.

Do you have a challenge you can't solve alone?

We're on the hunt for the current innovation challenges in Scotland's public sector.

An innovation challenge is a current problem faced by a Scottish public body, where there is no clear fix or current market solution.

We’re providing Scotland’s public bodies the opportunity to receive up to 100% of funding to support the development of innovative solutions.

We're inviting applications from across the public sector with the strongest challenges being selected for funding by the CAN DO Innovation Challenge Fund.

Benefits for getting involved include:

  • The opportunity to explore creative solutions to operational challenges
  • Improved service quality and reduced delivery costs from solutions customised to your needs
  • Up to 100% funding to find and develop solutions with innovative businesses

About the fund

The CAN DO Innovation Challenge Fund is a national fund which supports Scottish public sector organisations to find and develop innovative solutions to operational service and policy delivery challenges.

The fund is managed by a partnership of Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council.

The aims of the fund are to:

  • Find solutions for societal and service delivery challenges faced by the public sector
  • Improve public service quality and reduce delivery costs
  • Boost Scotland’s innovation and economic development performance

Am I eligible?

Public sector organisations will be deemed to be those bodies in Scotland which are spending public sector money and are subject to EU procurement rules.

This includes universities or charities. However, all challenges must meet the aims of the fund – to solve and improve public services and boost Scotland’s economic development.

All challenges will be assessed against the same criteria.

R&D costs incurred by successful challenge solvers are eligible for funding support.

Internal staff costs, including any travel and subsistence are not eligible for reimbursement.

The challenge sponsor is required to resource a project manager for any challenge submitted.

How to apply

The 5th Call is now open, and closes at 5pm on the 31 March 2020.

For more information on the challenge, eligibility and details on how to apply, please read the Guidance Document (PDF, 314KB). You can also contact the fund delivery team.

Key dates

The key dates are as follows:

20 November 2019 Call 5 opens
31 March 2020, 5pm  Call 5 closes
24 April 2020, 5pm Initial assessment of applications completed. Applicants notified of results
Week beginning 27 April 2020 Challenge refinement workshop
Week beginning 4 May 2020 Applicants pitch to the fund’s panel. Funding decision communicated
Week beginning 11 May 2020 Challenge launch workshop


Could you solve a challenge?

Innovation challenges are problems that, if solved, present benefits to the public sector and commercial opportunities for the companies that develop solutions.

Challenges will be open to companies of any size.

Academic organisations and third sector organisations such as NGOs can also apply to become challenge solvers, as long as they show how they will commercialise any solution they develop.

See the current challenges faced by Scottish public sector organisations.

Challenges like these?

Got a question?

Get in touch with our CAN DO Innovation Challenge Fund team