Innovating Mental Health Services in Scotland SBRI

Background Summary

The Scottish Health and Industry Partnership (SHIP) between the Department of Economy and Department of Health and Social Care at the Scottish Government has launched a National open innovation challenge aimed at Innovating Mental Health Services in Scotland on 22nd June 2022. 

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

  • Young person’s challenge.
  • 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).
  • Patient centred care pathways.
  • Treatment resistant conditions.
  • Prioritisation of backlog.

Organisations could apply for a share of £630,000 (inclusive of VAT) over a 2-phase competition. Phase 1 was allocated £180,000 for a maximum of 6 projects. Phase 2 was allocated £450,000 for a maximum of 3 projects.

Challenge Objectives

The aim of this Mental Health SBRI was divided into 2 challenges:

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

Innovation themes:

  • Supported self-management.
  • Diagnosis and assessment.
  • Digital psychological interventions (e.g. formal evidence based psychological treatments/ interventions, just-in-time adaptive interventions).
  • Information, advice, and self-help (this is not about creating new interventions, rather focusing on maximising what we currently have).
  • Transdiagnostic processes – issues that are present across disorders (e.g. sleep, rumination, social avoidance, pain).

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.

Innovation themes:

  • Digital pathway enhancements including asynchronous approaches (before referral, at triage, whilst awaiting first appointment, during treatment, after discharge, communication between services, person-centred care planning).  This could include information, advice, and self-help, and/or collection of clinical information (eg. from inventories to inform assessment/care).
  • Remote monitoring, including medication monitoring, collection of patients reported outcome data from digital products to help tailor care to needs of people with ongoing mental health challenges; and collection and analysis of data from multiple agencies that may indicate deteriorating mental health in adults or risk in children and young people.
  • Novel approaches to identify new therapeutic and technological opportunities for treatment resistant mental health problems.

Clinical Leads

Alastair Cook – Scottish Government
Fiona Duffy – Consultant Clinical Psychologist at NHS Lothian
Nagore Penades – Consultant Clinical Psychologist at NHS West Renfrewshire

Delivery Partners

Phase 1 Challenge Solvers

Phase 1 started on 6th February 2023 for a 3-month period and ended on 8th June 2023. A total of 5 companies were selected including:


MyHelp worked with the Department of Paediatric Psychology at NHS Grampian to improve the support available to young people, using digital solutions, to help manage mental health issues during treatment but with the opportunity to extend it to before treatment. Both patients and practitioners believed that MyHelp could help the relationship with tailoring of treatment by psychologists through this digital solution.

Red Star

Red Star worked with clinicians from NHS Glasgow to understand what they would like to see from a modern, data-driven clinical system to support mental health services. The team co-designed a solution with users which will provide a modern IT platform, which design address NHS Scotland Mental Health Services priorities, including streamline pathways for ADHD diagnosis and care by offering a digital first approach meeting that address the needs of young people, pilot a pathway for ADHD diagnosis, enhance remote monitoring for people with eating disorders, capture of information and digital referrals through asynchronous assessments and triaging, enhance the communication between community mental health, specialist services and GPs, and the digitalisation of information in one system.


Sentireal worked with NHS Lothian to develop the software platform, powered by AI, hosting mobile and web applications, offering information, advice, and self-help to patients. The proposed application will work as a stand-alone system, but we will endeavour to collaborate with NHS IT staff to integrate fully with Lenus. While the web-based element will assist clinicians prior to initial consultation with the young person. The team focused on eating disorders, and they intended to create a generic model, which will extend to include other key specific mental health conditions.


Voxsio worked with NHS Grampian. Voxsio has created the disruptive digital health app UB-OK to give young people with gastrointestinal functional disorders access to evidence-based psychological therapies and support for their physical symptoms. Bypassing waitlists, UBOK provides instant support, helping these young people to manage their physical and mental symptoms, creating better health outcomes. Voxsio has worked with young people and NHS clinicians to make UB-OK engaging, useful, and ethical. With colleagues in NHS Grampian, Tayside, Highland, and young people, Voxsio will now run a feasibility study based on the Medical Research Council framework. This study will establish early estimates of efficacy of UB-OK and importantly prove how young people engage with the app.


WYSA worked with NHS Lothian. WYSA aims to increase young people’s access to self-management support across Scotland whilst supporting services to receive referrals in a way that captures the voice of the young person and reduces the number of referrals that are rejected improving services capacity but most importantly improving the journey for young people. WYSA has launched a trusted Ai-enabled mental health app in Northwest Edinburgh for students aged 12-18 years in a pilot study aiming to increase access to psychological self-management tools for young people. Full access to the Wysa platform provided students with a wide range of tools and resources to help address challenges young people often face such as anxiety, sleep, stress, relationships, body image and more.

Phase 2 Challenge Solvers

Phase 2 started on 2nd October 2023 for a 12-month period and will end on 2nd October 2024. A total of 3 companies from phase 1 were selected including:

  • Red Star – working with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
  • Voxsio – working with NHS Grampian.
  • WYSA – working with NHS Lothian.

Wysa Phase 2 Explained

Outputs Expected

Phase 1: technical feasibility studies

This means planned research or critical investigation to gain new knowledge and skills for developing new products, processes, or services. The outcome of phase 1 was to work closely with the stakeholders to develop a solution.

In phase 1, companies had to:

  • Demonstrate the technical feasibility of your proposed innovation.
  • Establish ongoing collaboration between technical and clinical members of the project team.
  • Formalise any required ethical approvals, data sharing agreements and contracts.
  • Begin working with clinical data.

Phase 2: prototype development and evaluation

This can include prototyping, demonstrating, piloting, testing and validation of new or improved products, processes or services in environments representative of real-life operating conditions. The outcome of phase 2 will be a prototype of the solution. The primary objective is to make further technical improvements on products, processes or services that are not substantially set.

SBRI Key Dates

Phase 1

Competition Launch: 22nd June 2022
Briefing event for Applicants: 12.30-14.00, 29th June 2022
Deadline for applications: 17th August 2022
Applicants notified of decision: w/c 10th of October
Contracts awarded: w/c 24th of October
Feedback provided by w/c 31st of October

Phase 2

Phase 2 Application Opens for Phase 1 companies: 14th June 2023
Deadline for application submissions: 12th July 2023 at 17:00
Evaluation of applications: July 2023
Company presentations to Assessment Panel: 3rd August 2023
Applicants notified of decision: w/c 7th August 2023
Feedback provided by no later than 18th August 2023
Contracts awarded by 31st August 2023
Phase 2 Commences: 2nd October 2023

Strategic Priority Areas

Challenge A

  • Neurodevelopmental difficulties in Children and Young People.
  • Able Autistic Group.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • People with low levels of activity and promoting exercise as an intervention.
  • Hard to reach populations (people with existing mental health conditions and/or people with a co-occurring condition, such as sensory loss, alcohol, or substance issues).
  • Eating disorders – Low weight/ anorexia (this patient group has seen a 240% increase in referrals since routine services opened up again following the first COVID lockdown period).
  • Young people and innovation in schools.

Challenge B

  • Keeping people at home (e.g. innovation opportunities linked to the Intensive Home Treatment model).
  • Maintaining connections with home for inpatient care. 

Funding Partner

The Scottish Health and Industry Partnership (SHIP)