TECHNOLOGY firms that are bidding to help overhaul the way public services are delivered in Scotland are preparing to unveil prototypes today ahead of a presentation event next week.

Eleven firms are finalising how they will show their solutions to problems ranging from helping young people with mental health problems to saving the NHS money in equipment in Edinburgh ahead of the CivTech event next week.

CivTech, which is part of the Scottish Government, links firms who reckon they have the solution to problems faced by public sector bodies such as councils, police and the NHS.

Open challenges are set, to which any organisation, team or individual can respond.

Shortlisted proposals go into an Exploration Stage and are further developed.

The best go through to the Accelerator—four months of working with Challenge Sponsors, citizens, and the CivTech team through a unique workshop system—to create the best possible solution and a business capable of taking that solution to the world.

One challenge from the NHS National Services Scotland seeking to make NHS waiting time system more efficient and effective has been met by Cohesion, a young technology company based in Glasgow offering digital health solutions in healthcare and life sciences. 

Stirling Council and the NHS are pushing to open a wider mental health conversation to help young people with problems affecting relationships with friends and family and impact on achievement in every aspect of life including school and work, which can lead to serious problems, physical harm, and suicide.

Alexander Holt, who heads CivTech, said: "One of the key tenets we set out to achieve was that of economic development. Could we create companies that could do well by doing good?"

The solutions are being presented at the CivTech 3.0 Demo Day at Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Wednesday February 6.

The Herald will publish a full report in tomorrow's edition.

The Herald:

Apple has suggested that it could lower iPhone prices in response to falling sales.

Speaking after publishing the company's latest financial results, which showed that iPhone revenue was down 15% on last year, chief executive Tim Cook said Apple is starting to adjust its pricing in some countries in response to currency valuation changes around the world.

Mr Cook said the "relative strength of the US dollar has made our products more expensive in many parts of the world", but that it was now trying to protect customers from the impact of currency fluctuation.

"What we have done in January in some locations and (for) some products is essentially absorb part or all of the foreign currency move compared to last year," he said.

The company did not specify which countries it was focusing on, but suggested it would continue to look at how the iPhone is priced outside the United States after seeing the cost of devices rise in markets where currency has weakened against the dollar in the last year.

Santander has posted a double-digit drop in UK profits after it was stung by higher regulatory costs, with the high street banking giant also pointing to stiff competition in the sector.

The Spanish-owned lender posted UK pre-tax profit of £1.6 billion, 14% lower than the £1.8 billion reported a year earlier.
On an underlying basis, pre-tax profit declined to £1.7 billion in 2018 from £2 billion.

Net interest income fell 4% to £3.1 billion due to pressures on new mortgage lending margins.

Net mortgage lending - gross loans less repayments - came to £3.3 billion in 2018, which Santander said was its strongest lending in more than three years "despite the highly competitive market".