Innovate UK earmarks £150,000 to explore automation tech to deliver citizen advice

Citizens Advice signage

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) and Innovate UK have teamed up on a competition that's inviting businesses with innovative ways of updating advice on the organisation's website to come forward.

CAS has earmarked 150,000 for the campaign, offering businesses a share of the pot if they can help it transform its website into a reliable resource for Scottish residents.

The Scottish citizens advice service has more than 3,500 pages of content on its website, but much of this is out of date or is rarely visited. Manually updating the content to bring it in line with current legislation is time consuming and costly, so Innovate UK is helping the public service organisation find a digital solution.

CAS and Innovate UK want to find a way of automatically scan through future legislation, find trusted sources of data and create drafts of updated documents, offering an audit trail along the way. The CAS will then be able to check these and replace existing content much more easily.

Innovate UK hopes the accuracy of these technologies will improve over time using machine learning and natural language processing.

Phase one of the project will see the partnership offer up to 150,000 in cash to businesses that can apply the technologies they've developed to the project. There may be a phase two, which will put aside an extra 30,000 to develop and test two of the best ideas identified in the first stage.

The funding for the project has been provided by the CAN DO innovation Challenge Fund as part of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI).

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.