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Scottish Government and Nesta launch health data challenge

Partnership between the Scottish Government and Nesta will see funding available for innovative projects driving the use of technology to give citizens access to data and help them live healthier lives

The Scottish Government has teamed up with Nesta to launch a Healthier Lives Data Fund, offering money to citizen-facing data projects.  

The aim is to come up with innovative ways for citizens to be able to use data from a range of different sources to live healthier and more supported lives.

According to the programme brief, data that can be used for the projects include national health data, local health data, social care data, local authority data, environmental data and data from wearables.  

“We are particularly interested in projects that combine data sources to create new and innovative technologies and user insights,” the brief said.

The initial fund will make grants of up to £30,000 available for projects over the next nine months, and NHS organisations, social care organisation, private companies, charities and social enterprises are welcome to apply.

Scottish Government and Nesta are looking for projects using digital technologies such as mobile apps, web platforms, and new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, blockchain and other innovative ideas.  

The projects have to help citizens in some way, whether that’s through using data in new ways to support someone living with long-term conditions, giving them information in new ways to help them get more involved in their own care, or support citizens to live healthier lifestyles and prevent them getting ill in the first place.

The initiative is part of plans set out in Scotland’s digital health and care strategy, which sets out a national approach to service redesign, and giving citizens the ability to access and update information about their own health. The strategy also aims to encourage a broader ecosystem of development and suppliers, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). 

Speaking at Scotland’s digital health and social care conference yesterday, Scottish Government’s director for digital, Colin Cook, said the “challenge is focusing on making data useful for citizens”.

Also speaking at the conference, Halima Khan, executive director of Nesta’s Health Lab, said it’s about “creating relationships, networks and technologies that empower people”.

She added that the potential for use of data is huge, and that combining citizen generated data, clinical data and research, could be “a really exciting triple win”.

Read more about health and care technology in Scotland

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