Our innovation model

All of our projects must make a difference to health and care professionals and most importantly the citizens of Scotland to be fit for purpose and help change lives.

All of our projects must make a difference to health and care professionals and most importantly the citizens of Scotland to be fit for purpose and help change lives.

Innovation through collaboration

Before projects enter our innovation model they must demonstrate a combination of academic value, business value and civic value. They are also evaluated on their suitability regarding the DHI’s focus on achieving economic impact on Scotland. We will assess your idea, making sure it is a solution to one of our challenges and if successful, it will be placed in one of the three areas of our innovation model.

Our innovation model has distinct stages defined as Exploratory, Laboratory and Factory. Your project doesn’t have to go through all three stages, every idea is assessed on its own unique requirements and may skip or repeat phases.


The Exploratory stage more than just organisation. engages with users, expert health and care professionals, decision makers from government, third sector, businesses etc. Informed by the most current, diverse and relevant research, innovation and knowledgeable sources we will develop priorities for taking your idea forward. This provides a crucial horizon scanning capability allowing Scotland to design and innovate for the future. The Exploratory stage also involves activities to stimulate the development of ideas.


The laboratory (experience labs) offer a safe and creative environment where researchers, businesses, civic partners and service users can collaborate to find innovative solutions to the complex health and care challenges facing our society.

Researchers use current and emerging design research methods to engage with partners and participants, who are encouraged to share their own experiences and co-design new services. Real-life practice is often replicated to allow new technology, services, processes and behaviour to be trialled rapidly. The resulting ideas become candidates for further research and developed.



Our Factory stage supports projects in progressing a known solution closer to market and deployment. The Factory offers a facilitation and resource platform, including access to expertise and test environments, business mentoring support and facilitation to source funding. The Factory works with industry, health and care partners, third sector and university partners to develop solutions and put them into a live environment such as the NHS to evaluate their effectiveness in real life situations.

A creative, collaborative community

The nature of our Exploratory, Laboratory and Factory projects combined with the requirements for delivering Academic, Business and Civic value result in all projects being collaborative. The DHI directs its resource to support the development of open innovation communities that enable and encourage these multi-disciplinary partnerships.

Academic value

The interdisciplinary nature of DHI breaks down academic silos and leads to new, more productive ways of creatively synthesising the knowledge gained, creating a joined up community of excellence in the digital health field. This supports delivery of more effective knowledge exchange programmes and continues to build on Scotland’s international reputation for excellence in research. DHI generates new research topics, multidisciplinary collaborations and many opportunities to test theories and develop the evidence base by studying practical case studies.


Business value

DHI facilitates projects to support businesses in the development of their innovative solutions. We forge collaborations to co-design, develop and validate products and services that have a defined market fit and then help them to access the health and social care market. At DHI we foster an environment that helps overcome barriers and supports commercialisation of research-driven innovations, helping to shorten development times and bring better products and services on-stream sooner. Digital health is a growing global market and there is strong export potential for innovative products and services developed in Scotland. We (together with the enterprise agencies, Scottish Development International and commercial partners) support this internationalisation, as well as contributing to the attractiveness of Scotland as a research location for larger corporates, helping to bring inward investment and high value jobs to Scotland.

Civic value

We see the potential for transformation in the delivery of public services through the involvement of citizens in the co-creation of solutions to health and care problems. Digital technologies can deliver not only rapid treatment and user benefit, but also practitioner efficiency and reduction in negative longer-term impacts of delayed treatments. DHI innovates at the forefront of this redesign in health and care, working with clinicians, carers and users of services to prototype service improvements and identify how to embed those innovations into practice, improving patient and service user experiences.

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A driven and dedicated team

Discover the wealth of talent already working here and see the diverse experience they bring to help Scotland’s digital health innovators thrive.

Meet the team

Developing innovation in Scotland

We bring together health and social care, charity, technology, design and academic sectors to develop new ideas for digital health.

What we do