Public Finance Minister Ben Macpherson with CivTech challenge sponsors and companies. Pictures: Hannah Houston/CivTech

but scaling up to meet demand in a growing international ‘govtech’ market. He said also that the companies that had responded to the Forestry & Land Scotland challenge were evidence that CivTech can be a ‘successful way of working beyond the narrow definition of the tech industry’. He said: “Tere’s been a real

energy here today and I think we’ve got some products that have the potential to scale, the potential to go internationally, which is what we’re looking for. Because ultimately we’re trying to put Scotland’s economy in a better position. And actually I was really impressed with some of the ideas to improve the yields from seeds. If I was an investor looking at Scotland, I think we’ve served up some really interesting ideas today.” Public Finance Minister Ben

Macpherson, who joined the event for the first time, said: “CivTech is a new way of approaching pro- curement by pairing public service teams with Scotland’s digital entrepreneurial talent. “Te programme provides ways

internationally. And we’ve got a fantastic platform coming up, so there’s a lot of potential in that.”

Forestry Land & Scotland chose no fewer than five companies when it issued its own challenge, ‘How might we use technology to make better use of Scotland’s valuable but limited supply of high quality tree seed?’ Te or- ganisation selected Elsoms Seeds, Silvibio, Cumbria Tree Growers, Forest Research and Forestart, all of whom featured in a busy Net Zero Zone, where Fergus Ew- ing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, spoke during the lunchtime break, add- ing: “Tis event is an opportunity to understand what has been released by the efforts of CivTech in the forestry field. Already I’ve grasped that what is happening here will transform forestry in just a few years’ time.”

He added: “Te climate chal-

lenge is with us and there is an appetite for action, and not words. And we are delivering action not words in Scotland, and we have been for some time. We have led on renewables, on peatland resto- ration, on forestry and restoration of open-cast old coal sites.” Ewing said these ‘massive eye-sores’ are now set to become sites for new forestry, which he said has been a ‘tremendous achievement’, and also paying tribute to the digital innovations that have been pio- neered through CivTech. In economic terms, the impact

of CivTech has more than doubled year-on-year, with new figures shared at the conference indicating that since inception the pro- gramme has created 141 full-time equivalent jobs, with £11.6m in contracts secured by challenge companies and £6.1m in invest- ment and grants. Te new Scottish

National Investment Bank (SNIB) was also featured at the event, with a keynote from Benny Higgins, the former Tesco Bank chief executive who has advised First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on its creation. Higgins, who talked about its ‘mis- sion-oriented finance’ approach – where social and environmental goals are part of the investment approach – said that the £2bn it will have its disposal will enable Scotland to have the ‘firepower’ it needs to scale its economy and meet some of those challenges. Summing up the day af-

terwards, Cook said he wants CivTech to take that direction in future, and said the programme – acknowledged by apolitical founder Lisa Witter as a ‘global leader’ when she addressed delegates by video link earlier in the day – is a real opportunity to put Scotland on the map, solving not just public sector challenges

of exploring responses to the most difficult issues we face as a nation, including how we respond to the climate crisis and improve wellbe- ing for all our citizens. “CivTech Demo Day is a

culmination of months of hard work from our innovative public service challenge sponsors and the companies and entrepreneurs who responded. It is also a plat- form for companies to showcase their work and encourage other public organisations to consider how they can use technology to solve problems.” l

For full background on the challenges, sponsors and companies visit: https:// civtechdemoday/473229

CivTech 5.0 is coming soon. To find out how to get involved and how your business can benefit, please go to


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