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How we're connecting public sector challenges with innovative ideas.

What's your problem? What challenge can you not 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

The deadline for public sector organisations to submit an Expression of Interest (Word, 29 KB) for funding to become a challenge sponsor is 19 January 2018.

Terry Hogg, project manager for the CAN DO Innovation Challenge Fund, explains more about the opportunity to solve public sector challenges
View Video

Or could you be a challenge solver?

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.

We offer a list of current challenges faced by Scottish public sector organisations. Apply for a challenge

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.

Dates and Deadlines

EOI submission opens
7 November 2017

EOI submission deadline
19 January 2018

Notification of outcome
2 March 2018

Full application submission deadline
30 March 2018 

Presentation to assessment panel
9 April 2018

Notification of outcome
27 April 2018

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


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.

However, the following elements are ineligible for funding: 

  • Challenge sponsor’s internal staff costs
  • Staff travel and subsistence

Read our guidance and eligibility form (PDF, 395 KB)

How to apply

  1. Download our Expression of Interest form (Word, 296 KB)
  2. Complete the form and email it to our team at