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Never has there been a more urgent time to accelerate new ideas and innovations. Coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to an unprecedented change in the NHS, and a new fund from Scottish Health Innovations Ltd (SHIL) will harness the knowledge and expertise of health and social care professionals across Scotland to develop innovative solutions in response to the crisis.

Announcing the fund, Graham Watson, Executive Chairman of SHIL said:

“The capacity for rapid change is all around us and it is important to ensure the ideas, innovations and solutions that occur during times of challenge are captured, developed and made available as quickly as possible to support the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19). Incredible knowledge and expertise resides within our NHS; more than ever we must ensure this is harnessed and supported.”

The package of support for NHS Scotland staff includes up to £25k of initial seed funding, combined with regulatory support, project management and the extensive innovation expertise of SHIL, who have worked in partnership with NHS Scotland since 2002.

Robert Rea, Head of Innovation at SHIL explains:

“Developing new innovations to help the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a priority. Multiple multi-million pound funding source are available now. This funding from SHIL provides the initial impetus, allowing promising innovations to be fast-tracked, with additional funding leveraged as needed to support development, testing and manufacture.”

The process is designed to be simple, and whilst health and social care professionals are being targeted, students, volunteers, companies and others with innovative ideas that would benefit from collaboration with the NHS can also submit.

Ideas can range from the simple to the complex. A medical device, a piece of technology, software or service offering. It may be an idea to support diagnostics, home care, hygiene or mental health. Anything to improve patient care and the fight against COVID-19 will be welcomed and considered. 

All ideas will be rapidly assessed, and SHIL will support selected innovations from concept to final product, working closely with its stakeholders to accelerate innovative solutions.

This dedicated fund from SHIL, sits as part of a broader portfolio of innovation calls in Scotland, all designed to support the NHS Scotland response to COVID-19.

Robert Rea, Head of Innovation at SHIL comments further:

“Great energy, commitment and collaboration is evident in the response to COVID-19. It is testament to the respect and appreciation we all have for our NHS; and everyone working within it. SHIL are very well connected and part of co-ordinated efforts to identify, develop and accelerate innovative solutions from teams and organisation across the UK and across multiple sectors. Importantly, at this time, we must also maintain our commitment to harnessing innovative ideas from within our Scottish health service; providing a route for staff to quickly and easily put forward ideas – their knowledge and experience is critical.”

Supporting the initiative, Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, comments:

“A huge collaborative effort is needed to defeat this virus; and whilst we shouldn’t underestimate the pressures staff are under right now; equally we should not underestimate their ability to adapt, innovate and use their insight and expertise to come up with ideas and solutions to support this fight.”

Since 2002, SHIL has supported over 1800 innovative health ideas, successfully developed and commercialised a variety of products and technologies, helped form 6 new spin-out companies and successfully negotiated multiple commercial license deals with companies, both within the UK and internationally. A collaborative approach ensures projects are managed, in collaboration with the inventor and NHS Scotland Health Board that would otherwise be difficult to balance with clinical or personal commitments.

Graham Watson, Executive Chairman, confirms:

“Fundamentally what SHIL is offering reflects our ongoing commitment to supporting health professionals who have new and innovative ideas to improve patient care. Coronavirus (COVID-19) has a significant impact on everyone and we are committed to doing all we can to protect patient safety, support resilience in the NHS and prioritise innovative solutions to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) response”

Access full information on the innovation call and submit ideas online via


  • Scottish Health Innovations Ltd (SHIL), funded by the Scottish Government Medical Directorate’s Chief Scientist Office, works in partnership with NHS Scotland to identify, protect, develop and commercialise healthcare innovations to improve patient care
  • Submissions are made online via
  • Assessment criteria includes viability of the idea, regulatory considerations, market assessment, commercial feasibility, clinical evaluation and technical considerations; and will be proportionate to the urgency and need for the innovation
  • Timescales will vary by project and depend on many factors, such as complexity, stage of development, and funding requirements


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