Guide
Open innovation

What is open innovation?

A platform for change

"Open innovation is a process of moving from a challenge to a better solution quicker. We view this as a game changer as we are not limited by our own knowledge or experience." 

Alan Gordon, innovation director, Stena Line


Share risk and reward

Alan Gordon, director of innovations at Stena Line explains how the company is embracing open innovation.
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Are you an entrepreneur, innovator or small or medium enterprise based in Scotland? Or do work as part of a public sector organisation and are looking for opportunities to collaborate?

Open innovation offers a platform to harness ideas, insights and experience to help organisations do things better.

In an increasingly connected world, it's becoming easier to encourage companies to embrace open innovation and outsource the skills and expertise to solve their most pressing business problems.

What's in it for you?

  • Share risk and reward
  • Collaborate, make new connections and grow profits
  • Gain a competitive advantage

Think you've got what it takes? 

We'll help support you to success.

There's a vast range of support available to help your company take on an open innovation challenge, including:

  • Scottish Enterprise grant support
  • Support from our experienced innovation specialists
  • Innovate UK funding
  • CAN DO Innovation Challenge Fund

Solve a challenge 

We're working with a range of organisations, from both the private and public sector, to identify innovation opportunities which are open to Scottish businesses to get involved in. 

These include:

  • Doosan Babcock
  • Stena Line
  • SP Energy Networks
  • NCR
  • Weir Group
  • Subsea 7
  • Raytheon
  • City of Edinburgh Council
  • Glasgow City Council
  • NHS Health & Social Care
  • Devro
  • RBS
  • Aker Solutions
  • Innovate UK and the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) 

Right now we're seeking innovative solutions to a series of challenges with some major operators.

This is your chance to work on a specific project, share your expertise and ideas and strengthen your competitiveness.

Solve a challenge



Open innovation challenges within easy reach
Co-create solutions

Get specialist innovation support

Planning an innovation project? Get in touch with our experienced innovation advisers for a free, impartial review of your project. 

Find out more

Protect your intellectual property

Protect your intellectual property

Get help to protect or license a new product, build your brand, or present your company for sale or investment.

Find out more

Finance your research

Finance your research

Big or small, your business could be eligible for an R&D grant to develp new products, prototypes or processes.

Find out more


Funded R&D projects

Could you help solve the innovation challenges of the UK’s public sector organisations? 100% of your R&D costs covered if you can.

Find out more

CAN DO Innovation Challenge Fund

Scottish public sector organisations are invited to come forward to access new, creative and previously untapped ideas and receive up to 100% funding.

Find out more

Opening up your potential

By collaborating on projects, companies share risk – and reward. Want to get involved?

Read our insight


I believe open innovation will be a step change for Stena as we'll be able to solve any problems and not be restricted by our internal knowledge or experience.

Alan Gordon Director of innovation at Stena Line

Innovation in patient care

Six Scottish SMEs selected to collaborate with NHS Scotland

A new approach to encouraging business innovation in Scotland has resulted in six Scottish SME businesses successfully winning seven new contracts with NHS Scotland to help drive treatment and patient innovation in dermatology, diabetes and Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD).

The companies have secured 50% of R&D funding with NHS Scotland as part of three open innovation competitions designed to support the development and commercialisation of new ideas from businesses to help drive new revenue streams. 

The competitions connect Scotland’s public sector organisations to creative new thinking from smaller private sector companies that they may not encounter using traditional public sector procurement routes.

The companies that have secured funding are:

  • AxSys Technology in Glasgow (dermatology)
  • Cohesion Medical Ltd in Glasgow (dermatology and IBD)
  • Digital Treetop Ltd in Perth (IBD)
  • Epipole Ltd in Rosyth (dermatology)
  • OpenBrolly Health in Elgin (IBD)
  • Storm ID in Edinburgh (diabetes)

We're working in partnership with Innovate UK-Scottish Business Research Initiative (SBRI) and a range of public sector organisations to fund and promote a series of innovation challenges currently faced by the UK's public sector. 

Through this programme, we can help you access up to £100,000 to test an idea, and up to £2 million or more to develop or demonstrate solutions in the field. 

"The value of the SBRI is in facilitating a level of user engagement with NHS Scotland which would have been difficult to access otherwise," said Euan Cameron, CEO and co-founder of Cohesion Medical. 

You can apply for a series of innovation challenges that provide 100% funding, through competitive R&D contract opportunities.

Apply for funded challenges on the GOV.UK website

Craig Robertson, founder and MD of Epipole Play video

Reduced waiting times

Craig Robertson of Epipole tells us about the benefits of working with the NHS to build solutions that will boost efficiencies and ultimately reduce waiting times.

Paul McGuinness, co-founder and director of Storm ID Play video

Dermatology goes digital

Paul McGuiness of Storm ID shares his experience of working with NHS clinicians in the design of a new dermatology service model in Scotland.

Pradeep Ramayya, CEO of AxSys Technology Play video

Concept validation

Pradeep Ramayya, CEO of AxSys Technology, champions the benefits of working with NHS clinicians to validate concepts and develop new products.

Open innovation partners bring fresh perspectives to collaborative engagements which result in ideas accelerated through to products in reduced timescales and increases our speed to market.

Grant Paton NCR