Scotland CAN DO Innovation Forum minutes: January 2017

Minutes for the sixth meeting of the Scotland CAN DO Innovation Forum on 25 January 2017.

Attendees and apologies

Minutes of the 6th meeting of the Scotland CAN DO Innovation Forum Edinburgh, 25 January 2017


  • Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy (Co-Chair)
  • Shirley-Anne Somerville, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science (Co-Chair)
  • Liz Ditchburn, Scottish Government, DG Enterprise, Environment and Innovation (Deputy Chair)
  • Jamie Coleman, Codebase
  • Prof. Patricia Findlay, University of Strathclyde Business School
  • Will Hutton, Big Innovation Centre
  • Sandy Kennedy, Entrepreneurial Scotland
  • Peter McColl, Nesta
  • Prof. Irene McAra-McWilliam, Glasgow School of Art
  • Derek Norwood, Devro plc
  • Dr Tracy Shimmield, SRSL Ltd
  • John Waddell, Archangel

Partner and Delivery Organisations:

  • Donna Chisholm, Highland and Islands Enterprise
  • Stuart Fancey, Scottish Funding Council
  • Jim Watson, Scottish Enterprise
  • David Wilkes, Innovate UK

In Attendance:

  • Andrea Nolan, Universities Scotland
  • Mary McAllan, Scottish Government
  • Roddy Macdonald, Scottish Government
  • Richard Rollison, Scottish Government
  • Brian Dornan Scottish Government
  • Mark Elliott, Scottish Government
  • Andrew Fowlie, Scottish Government
  • Alexandra Stein, Scottish Government
  • Robert Martin, Innovate UK


  • Kevin Baughan, Innovate UK
  • James Dunbar, New Start Highland
  • Melfort Campbell, Imes Group
  • Cathie Cowan, Health Innovation Partnership Board
  • Prof. Dame Anne Glover, University of Aberdeen,
  • Prof. Andrew Morris
  • Geoff Mulgan, Nesta
  • Erin Platts, Silicon Valley Bank
  • Ken Scott, Alexander Dennis Ltd


  • Karen McAvenue, Scottish Government Innovation Strategy Team
  • Lynne Blair, Scottish Government Innovation Strategy Team
  • June Love, Scottish Government Innovation Strategy Team 

Items and actions


1. This note provides an overview of the key points arising during the sixth meeting of the Scotland CAN DO Innovation Forum (henceforth referred to as ‘the Forum’).

Agenda Item 1 – Welcome, Opening Remarks

2. Mr Wheelhouse welcomed all to the meeting and introduced Ms Somerville, advising that they would be co-chairing the Forum to ensure that the greatest potential for driving business innovation would be achieved. He noted that the Innovation Action Plan was published on 11 January 2017 and this would be the subject of a more in-depth discussion later in the meeting.

3. Ms Somerville advised that progress was being made on the Innovation Scotland Forum (ISF) Action Plan and it was important that this continued despite the ISF being dissolved.

Agenda Item 2 – Minutes/Matters Arising

4. The Minutes from the previous meeting were agreed.

Agenda Item 3 – Innovation Action Plan

5. Paper 2, the Innovation Action Plan, was introduced. Members were specifically asked to consider:

  • what are the key implementation challenges?
  • what are the essential next steps?
  • what can the Forum do to drive delivery?

6. Following a discussion the following general points were made:


  • There is a gap in leadership capacity/skills required to build companies

Scale up

  • Focus should be on scaling up
  • Scotland has a micro business revolution – make more of that – could these businesses be scaled up?


  • need to do more to celebrate / promote success
  • need to celebrate success at a local level, make it real and lively, possibly using business organisations such as Chamber of Commerce, Institute of Directors etc.
  • need a culture of innovation in Scotland – start a national conversation
  • need a comms plan that will elevate innovation and help it catch fire – not just case studies

Further/Higher Education

  • lack of connection between businesses/universities/colleges – build into curriculum
  • beneficial for under graduates and PhDs to work with businesses – choose a location or college/university to help take this forward
  • businesses should design and introduce new doctorate scheme for 100 graduates over 3 or 4 years to allow direct experience. This would result in a significant cohort of experienced graduates after 5 years. Show that we are natural open innovators.
  • cross-sectoral doctorate would be useful.


  • embed innovation in procurement
  • embrace big challenges - health and well-being / electrical energy production – get public involved. Local to national challenges


  • capital an issue for some


  • challenge is encouraging SMEs to be innovation active
  • we need to raise our game on what success will look like in the future
  • international links are critically important
  • need a common understanding of innovation
  • access to experts
  • convey appetite for risk – ability to accept that not everything will succeed

7. Mr Wheelhouse thanked all for a useful discussion and advised their comments would be noted by officials. Forum secretariat will proceed with the implementation of the Plan. While the role of the Forum in helping to deliver the Plan was not specifically discussed, there is no doubt that it will play a crucial role in monitoring its progress. Forum secretariat will ensure that the Plan features prominently at forthcoming meetings.

Following this discussion, the agenda was slightly rearranged to accommodate presenters.

Agenda Item 4 – UK Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

8. David Wilkes gave a short presentation on the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund , highlighting that the Fund will:

  • help the UK capitalise on its strengths
  • support business led collaborations with coordinated research efforts
  • identify challenges that may well cut across boundaries of research
  • focus on areas with the potential to transform existing industries and create entirely new ones

Agenda Item 5 – Innovation Scotland Action Plan

9. Andrea Nolan advised that the plan would run over 2 years and highlighted the following:

  • over 50% of PHDs are going into the business sector
  • universities are in touch with c.18,000 businesses each year

Agenda Item 6 – Pilot Project Update

10. A short update on the Health and Well-being pilot was given by Donna Chisholm. She advised that:

  • the 3 stage SBRI call would be sent to Innovate UK at the end of January
  • the competition should launch on 20 March 2017 with publicity and advice sessions for businesses
  • the first stage closing date is 17 May 2017 and it’s anticipated that 5 companies shall be selected

11. Jamie Coleman gave a brief update on the Digital pilot advising that he was discussing the final details with SG officials.

12. Mr Wheelhouse thanked everyone for their input and an interesting discussion. He then advised that the Terms of Reference, format and membership of the meeting would be considered and the secretariat would be in touch.


  • forum secretariat to proceed with implementing the Innovation Action Plan
  • forum secretariat to ensure that the Innovation Action Plan is a standing agenda item at future meeting.
  • forum members will monitor the Plan’s progress

J. Love
6 February 2017



Telephone: 0300 244 4000

Scotland CAN DO Innovation Forum
Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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