Your Town Centre: An Innovation Challenge

IC Cover“See the world as you want it to be, not the way it is”

There’s been much discussion over the last few years about the need for a new narrative or story for Scotland’s Town Centres, not least in the debates around the Fraser Review of Town Centres and the  Government’s response through the Town Centre Action Plan. Much has been made of the need for entrepreneurial vision and action to breathe new life back into our centres.

Scotland’s town centres have to be about people; people who want to meet, talk, create, trade, entertain …. We have to find new ways to unlock the potential of places and people and to match great ideas with opportunities.

And that’s where the newly announced Innovation Challenge comes in.

IC detail

The Innovation Challenge has been designed by Iain Scott (1001 Enterprising Scots), is being run by the Scottish Business Resilience Centre and is supported by the Scottish Government, fitting as it does with its Enterprise and Innovation framework and the Town Centre First principle.

This Challenge is about involving people who want to do something, recognising that ideas need to be tested, shaped and tried out. The Challenge is about raising awareness that true innovation starts with something small, and needs knowledge and expertise as well as energy to get it off the ground. Innovation can be exciting and frustrating, and may need access to technical advice and testing to turn a vision into reality.

The first round of the Innovation Challenge is now open (the first Challenge runs from May to October 2014 with a second from October 2014 to March 2015). Unusually it’s not about bidding for funds, but coming up with innovative approaches to generate prosperity using that time honoured asset- people. It is not about “shovel-ready” projects pitched against each other for a small sum of money, it is about people and ideas and working together to test and refine these ideas to a point where they can focus on the practical steps to making something innovative and different happen. The Challenge is about looking at places and spaces in a different way; one which opens up entrepreneurial opportunities.

The Challenge is open to people or groups who have an idea that can be implemented in an existing or emerging Business Improvement District or Development Trust Association in a town across Scotland.

IC what is on offer

We have to do different and innovative things in and for our town centres; so what have you got to lose? Got an idea, then Iain wants to hear it and the reasons behind it. We (and if you read the brochure and talk to Iain you will understand better what “we” is here) will then refine, hone and test it, before trying to make it reality.

A brochure with all details is available here or can be requested from

About Leigh Sparks

I am Professor of Retail Studies at the Institute for Retail Studies, University of Stirling, where I research and teach aspects of retailing and retail supply chains, alongside various colleagues. I am Chair of Scotland's Towns Partnership. I am also a Deputy Principal of the University, with responsibility for Education and Students and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
This entry was posted in BIDS, Community Development, Development Trusts, Entrepreneurship, Government, Innovation, Regeneration, Scotland's Town and High Streets, Scotland's Towns Partnership, Town Centre Review, Town Centres and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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