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What's your problem?

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

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


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.

Dates and deadlines

EOI submission opens:
1 March 2018

EOI submission deadline:
15 June 2018

Notification of outcome:
27 July 2018

Full application submission deadline:
31 August 2018

Presentation to assessment panel:
10-14 September 2018

Notification of outcome:
5 October 2018

However, the following elements are ineligible for funding: 

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

Find out more and apply

Find out about eligibility and the application process for public sector organisations in the guidance document.

CAN DO Innovation Challenge Fund guidance (Word, 52kB)

Public sector organisations can submit the following expression of interest application form to become a challenge sponsor.

CAN DO Innovation Challenge Fund expression of interest form (Word, 44kB)

Email your completed form to Applications will be open until 15 June 2018.

Or 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.

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

See the list of challenges