Image captured at the inaugural, in person, event.

With Scotland’s CAN DO Innovation Summit fast-approaching, the winners of its #SME stage competition have been unveiled, as further details of the programme for the virtual event on 3 February are announced.

The three winners of the competition, open to all small and medium sized Scottish businesses, were chosen from high-quality entrants who were asked to submit a short video demonstrating how they are building innovation into their daily practices.

The winners are rising stars from across Scotland – Edinburgh-based Scene Connect, Aberdeen-based Recycl8 and Edinburgh-based Space Intelligence. Getting a spot on the Summit’s SME stage gives the businesses exposure to a global online audience of over 800 investors, academics, entrepreneurs and innovators. The winners will also benefit from two days of support from an Innovation Specialist at Scottish Enterprise.

This year’s CAN DO Innovation Summit, a headline event of the VentureFest Scotland festival of innovation, has been carefully crafted to support Scottish SMEs to build innovation-led recovery, resilience and sustainable growth after recent national and global challenges. It will feature a speaker line-up of over 40 multi-sector SMEs and a range of innovation support agencies across 12 industry-led panel sessions.

Panel discussions and live Q&A sessions will run throughout the day covering the following themes: Journey to a Sustainable Future; Recovery & Resilience; Workplace Culture; Advance manufacturing & Digitisation; MedTech/Health Innovation.

Speaker highlights on the day will include world class keynotes: Lolita Jackson, Special Advisor for Climate Policy and Programs, in New York City’s Mayor’s Office; Ivan McKee, the Scottish Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation; Craig Foster, Art Director at Pixar Animation Studios; Chloe Demrovsky, the youngest and first female chief executive to oversee and expand the Disaster Recovery Institute’s international network; Dyan Finkhousen, founder and CEO of Shoshin Works in the US and John Reid, CEO of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS).

It has never been more important for business to be agile and creative – and over 800 delegates have already signed up to this year’s event, from Scotland, the UK and beyond. They have given a range of reasons for getting involved, including aiming to make new connections; wanting to learn about progressive workplace practices and hoping to learn how new technologies can help them tackle business challenges.

Enabling connections is a key objective of the Summit, at a time when networking can be difficult in a virtual world. With multiple opportunities to connect with new people, share knowledge and ideas and explore opportunities for partnership, the Summit makes it easier than ever to spark new connections online. Delegates can meet innovation leaders, support agencies, investors, entrepreneurs and academics through live Q&As, speed networking, 1:1s in the Delegate Hub, drop-in sessions and the Summit’s virtual Support Village.

Dr Laura Bell of the CAN DO Innovation Summit, said: “Recent events have created huge challenges for SMEs, who will now be critical to tackling the economic and societal challenges we are facing. This year’s Summit has been carefully crafted to help SMEs explore opportunities to develop new and better business models and to drive sustainable competitive advantage.

“Our virtual focal point for business will help SMEs adopt new technologies, build progressive working cultures and access the right support for innovation-led recovery and growth. We have a wide selection of world-leading experts and local talent lined up to speak at the event, as well as interactive sessions which can benefit SMEs across all sectors.

“I’d also like to thank our panel of judges for selecting three excellent winners to take their well-earned place in the spotlight at the Summit on the #SMEstage. We look forward to welcoming many more SMEs on 3 February.”

The #SMEstage competition winners were selected by an independent panel of judges made up of senior representatives from Scottish EDGE, Innovate UK and Scottish Enterprise.

The winners will have their moment in the spotlight at the Summit at 3.45pm when they will showcase how they are building innovation into their daily practices.

Evelyn McDonald said: “Judging the #SMEstage competition was a great way to start the year as it reminded us all that despite the challenges we are currently facing there are a wealth of entrepreneurs and businesses in Scotland creating new technologies to enable innovation led recovery and growth.  Winning the competition will give the businesses access to a wide audience which will hopefully bring useful connections and support as well as linking them into invaluable support from Scottish Enterprise.”

This is the second Summit, following a successful inaugural event in Glasgow, and is the first time it has been held virtually.

For more information on the event, and to register for free, please visit CAN DO’s website.

More on the #SMEstage competition winners:

Scene Connect is an innovator in the local energy space, helping communities drive the transition to net zero. Working with Locogen and Mentone Energy, they are developing the ZUoS Energy Services Platform to provide flexible control of low carbon technologies to support reliable, low-cost energy with localised grid management, with trials underway in Huntly and Perth.

Edinburgh-based Space Intelligence provides the information required by companies, governments and NGOs to develop Nature Based Solutions to climate change. With a world-class team of satellite data scientists, they provide high-accuracy land cover, peatland and forest carbon maps by harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence applied to big data from space.

Aberdeen-based Recylc8 is using patented bonding technology to develop a ground-breaking low carbon-footprint product made from Incinerator Bottom Ash. They will upcycle this ash from waste to energy incinerators, transforming it into a low carbon additive for concrete manufacture.  As well as utilising a resource that would normally be destined for landfill, their product also emits less C02 than traditional concrete production, giving the concrete industry a huge advantage.