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Uniting technology and data analytic experts, entrepreneurs and medical professionals to create digital innovations that tackle population health issues was the goal for the latest hackathon from Product Forge.

Supported by SHIL alongside NHS National Services Scotland, Canon Medical Research Europe, IHDP Scotland, and DHI Scotland, the event, which ran from Thursday 25 January through Sunday 28 January, saw individuals from a variety of career backgrounds work on healthcare innovations across areas as diverse as mental health, obesity, and substance abuse.

During the launch event on Thursday evening SHIL’s Head of Business Development, Dr. Robert Rea outlined the role of SHIL and the support it would be offering over the course of the weekend.

SHIL presentation takes place at the 39-minute mark

He added: “Hackathons are a fairly new approach to innovation in Scotland and SHIL are delighted to be supporting them. Through years of experience in developing and commercialising products we bring skills to the process that help assess the technical and commercial feasibility of an idea. It has been great to see the enthusiasm for developing new, innovative solutions and the general approach to collaboration over the weekend. We have a wealth of talent in Scotland and I look forward to seeing how these and future ideas develop” 

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were given over to the teams to form and develop their ideas – with no brief other than the creation of digital remedies targeting public health challenges. Access to datasets and mentors from healthcare and digital technology backgrounds provided the platform to assess the viability of ideas, potential scale, and technical feasibility. The weekend concluded with pitch presentations by all teams to a panel of 4 judges: Executive Chairman of SHIL, Graham Watson; Director of Public Health and Intelligence at NHS National Services Scotland, Phil Couser; Co-Director of the Executive Delivery Group for Public Health Reform at The Scottish Government, Marion Bain; and Director of IHDP Scotland, Aileen Keel.

Joint winners were ViaLact, a free app that helps women to find breastfeeding-friendly places, so they can feel safe, confident and supported to breastfeed wherever they are; and Docmetrics, a system providing real-time hyper-local health data for General Practice - both captured the judges imaginations to take the top spot.

“The calibre of work and innovative thinking on display was extremely high,” commented Graham Watson. “As a new collaboration for SHIL, our partnership with Product Forge has allowed us to explore new approaches to innovation, nurture entrepreneurial talent and build collaborations with key stakeholders across Scotland, all committed to driving improvements in healthcare. Congratulations to both the winning teams”


  • Product Forge is an organisation which delivers open innovation by connecting their partners to early stage technology entrepreneurs, technologists and entrepreneurially minded designers who want to tackle society's hardest challenges – find out more on their website:
  • NHS Scotland staff with an idea for a new medical technology innovation? Find out how the SHIL team can support you through the invention process:
  • NHS Scotland Manager or Team Leader? Request some of our resources for your facility, to help promote innovative thinking in the workplace:
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