Innovating Mental Health Services in Scotland Open Innovation Challenge

Delivering person-centred and equitable Mental Health support and services for people in Scotland


Approximately 1 in 4 people experience challenges with their mental health at some point in their lifetime. At any one time approximately 1 in 6 people have a mental health condition. People with mental illness die up to 20 years younger than their peers, primarily due to serious physical health conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Up to 1 in 5 women experience difficulties with their mental health in the perinatal period, only 50% receive treatment. The consequence of not receiving treatment can have long lasting impact on children. The majority of mental health conditions will develop before age 24 with 50% of mental health difficulties established by age 14. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have been found to have a lifelong impact on mental health.1

Poor mental health is not equally distributed across the population. Adults living in the most deprived areas are approximately twice as likely to have common mental health problems as those in the least deprived areas (22% versus 11%). Children born into poverty are more likely to experience mental health problems.1 The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the mental health of people all over Scotland but people who already experience inequality have been far more adversely affected .

The Challenge

The aim of this competition is to develop disruptive innovative solutions that deliver sustainable, accessible and equitable mental health services, addressing one or more of the following areas:

a) Young persons challenge

b) Hard to reach populations (people with existing mental health conditions and/or people with a co-occurring condition e.g. sensory loss, alcohol, or substance issues)

c) Patient centred care pathways

d) Treatment resistant conditions

e) Prioritisation of backlog

The aim of this competition is to develop disruptive innovative solutions that address:

Challenge A - Supporting people who are not currently receiving treatment and addressing the backlog of patients on waiting lists.

Challenge B - Delivering person-centred and equitable Mental Health support and services to people who are currently receiving treatment by optimising clinical and social care pathways

This is a Pre-Commercial Procurement Challenge competition funded by The Scottish Health Industry Partnership (SHIP) and Scottish Government Mental Health and Wellbeing Directorate. Successful applicants receive 100% funding and access to advice from the NHS Scotland innovation hubs.

The programme will be delivered in up to 2 phases. This is phase 1. A decision to proceed with phase 2 will depend on the outcomes from phase 1. Only successful applicants from phase 1 will be able to apply to take part in phase 2.

SHIP and the Scottish Government Mental Health and Wellbeing Directorate are investing up to £630,000 including VAT, split across 2 innovative challenge areas.

There is a preference for projects at an advanced stage of development, near ready to be deployed in a real world situation for use evaluation. For projects with advanced prototypes, where possible we would like to see evidence of certification of the appropriate EN or ISO standard, or plans to achieve this. This detail forms part of the Gateway assessment.

Projects showing high potential but at an earlier stage of development may also be considered.


To lead a project, you can:

• Be any type of organisation of any size

• Work in conjunction with one of the NHS Scotland and Social Care Innovation Test Beds to deliver R&D services

• Work alone or with other organisations as subcontractors

Application Process:

All applications for this challenge will be managed through the Public Contract Scotland website:

Click here to apply via Public Contracts Scotland


Applicants will be expected to engage with the test beds to identify one to work with that can provide the relevant expertise to support your project, and evidence this in your application.

The innovation test beds are uniquely placed to support your project, providing access to relevant systems and supporting testing in a healthcare environment. In order to do this, the test beds will need to know what and how you are going to answer the challenge, including what support and access you will need.

This information will enable the test bed to provide information on expected timelines in accessing certain support which will need to be included in the project plan section of your application. It will also enable the test bed to confirm they are able to support your project with the relevant required expertise.

How to contact the NHS Test Beds:

North of Scotland Test Bed

Contact Gram Innovation Hub

West of Scotland

Website: West of Scotland Innovation Hub


Health Innovation South East Scotland

Website: NHS Health Innovation South East Scotland


Support for Applicants:

To support potential applicants there will be a launch event and a series of open Q&A sessions with the Test Beds as follows:

Launch Event

12.30-14.00 on Wednesday 29th of June Launch Event Click me

Open Q&A Sessions

12.30-13.30 - 11th of July Click to Join

12.30-13.30 - 27th of July Click to Join

12.30-13.30 - 9th of August Click to Join