When The Herald Digital Transformation Awards in association with Digital World were launched for the first time earlier this year, there was no way of predicting how successful these would be. But as the entries began to flood in it became very clear that digital innovation in Scotland is thriving.

For the judges, reviewing the submissions was a huge and lengthy task, but last night the cream of Scotland’s digital talent was recognised when the winners were finally announced.

Amongst them were outstanding examples of creativity and entrepreneurship, along with a marked desire to make a difference in people’s lives. In a very impressive field some of the stand-out winners were Dale Colley, winner of Digital Young Person of the Year for his creation of the AquaBot, an autonomous, surface water-borne drone, launched while he was still a student at City of Glasgow College. With the potential to give real-time data, this innovative ‘Bot’ looks set to be a game-changer in the bid to end water pollution.

In the Best use of Technology in Healthcare category, sponsored by Capito, the winner was the NHSInform COVID portal. From a standing start this site grew rapidly to become the single, central resource for publishing all pandemic advice, in collaboration with national public health and government teams.

The GSC Young Team from Glasgow Science Centre claimed Best Use of Technology in the Third Sector title for its online foundation apprenticeships, a pilot scheme that allowed businesses to take on apprentices despite lockdown restrictions. The Team worked with Skills Development Scotland (SDS), to offer virtual work placements, based at Glasgow Science Centre, for eight young people in the areas of engineering, business skills and creative digital media.

Meanwhile Good-Loop, an ethical advertising platform, won Digital Marketing Campaign Award for its skill in connecting online advertisers striving to find customers with charities in search of funds. The scheme was launched in 2016 and since then, by encouraging the companies to donate every time an online advert was viewed for 15 seconds or more, Good-Loop has raised more than £2 million for good causes.

Meanwhile, thanks to the visionary thinking of two employees at Falkirk Council, the 4000 vulnerable citizens who rely on the local authority’s telecare service to check that they are safe and well, now have continuity of care after the unreliable analogue service was replaced with Scotland’s first end-to-end digital telecare service.

And these were just some of the very worthy winners who received accolades last night.

They were congratulated by Kate Forbes MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy, who described digital technology as: “a global megatrend that has changed every aspect of how we live our lives” Scotland, she said was playing a key role in its roll-out and she described the Third Sector as being at “the vanguard of digital transformation” during the pandemic. “Individuals and communities have stayed connected at a time when we had to be apart. In the midst of COP 26 and the climate challenge, digital delivering on Scotland’s net zero targets will only be possible when more of our businesses, institutions and individuals are willing and able to benefit from digital transformation. “We must invest in leadership, management and our workforce to turn investments in tech into positive outcomes for businesses, the education sector, our communities and our environment.”

Meanwhile Hugh Lightbody, Chief Officer, Business Gateway, whose DigitalBoost platform was sponsor of the Business Growth Award, said: “This event was a perfect opportunity to celebrate creative and resilient businesses that have been able to adapt to a difficult trading environment through their innovative use of digit al technologies. “All the speakers perfectly demonstrated the vital role that technology can play when it comes to running a business and the event provided an invaluable forum for people to come together following a difficult time. The stories were truly inspiring, and I hope everyone got something from the event, whether that was an idea for their own business, or a renewed sense of optimism about the future.

David Mains, Head of Digital Technology Recruitment, Tec-Source, sponsors of Digital Professional of the Year, said: “Tec-Source were delighted to support this celebration of Digital Transformation excellence in Scotland; the quality (and quantity!) of entries shows the real resilience that exists in the digital sector in Scotland.”

Mark Gibson, Managing Director, Capito, said: “I was very impressed by the sheer depth and breadth of the entries. “Many of the nominated businesses and organisations were at very different points in the lifecycle - ranging from early proof-of-concept and research and development, to more mature initiatives that are delivering and making a difference now. “The common threat that tied them together was the drive and passion to make a long-term impact on the lives of their target audience, customer base and society at large. “I have personally found it exciting and inspiring to hear these stories and everyone at Capito is proud to play a part in showcasing the exceptional talent and creativity that we have right here in Scotland.”

And Phil Ford, Head of Digital Economy and Financial Services at Skills Development Scotland said, “The quality of the award winners plus that of the finalists underlines why Scotland continues to punch above its weight in the globally competitive tech sector. “ As the pace of digital transformation continues to accelerate, there are a host of opportunities for people to play a part in that sector and carve out a successful career. That’s why it’s so important we continue investing in digital skills so employers can access the talent they need for future growth.”

For a full list of winners, visit the event website.

For information on the 2022 event please contact linsey.hunter@newsquest.co.uk.