Public Health Product Forge


Help find digital remedies for public health challenges - Product Forge is back with a public health hackathon from Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th January 2018 at the Biscuit Factory in Edinburgh.

In collaboration with the NHS Information Services Division, the Innovative Healthcare Delivery Programme, Canon Medical Research Europe and Scottish Health Innovations Limited, the Public Health Product Forge will unite the wider technology community, entrepreneurs and medical professionals to create digital innovations that tackle population health issues to ultimately improve the health of people and their communities. The event will cover a variety of themes including childhood obesity, addiction, and mental illness.

If you work in public health, are a developer, designer, or are interested in the subject, then this hackathon is for you!

Whether you already have an idea that you would like to prototype or you would just like to make new connections, we invite you to come along and meet people with a shared goal of finding digital remedies for challenges surrounding public health.

Use this opportunity to develop your career, gain new skills, network with professionals, meet potential employers or even kick-start your own company.

We’re kitting out the Biscuit Factory to make a cosy and welcoming space for you to work on your projects away from the winter weather. We’ll have snug working, chill-out, naptime and mealtime zones and we’ll be serving 10 free meals including hot and hearty dinners, and a special surprise for Burns supper! The venue will be open for 24 hour access, so feel free to stay and work into the early hours.

Registrations will remain open until 9am on Saturday for late starting participants.


Sponsors & Data Providers


Phil Couser
Director of Public Health and Intelligence at NHS National Services Scotland

After university Phil joined the Army, holding leading roles in the national level logistic planning for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and command of a regiment. He first worked for the NHS as Associate Director for Planning, Performance and Practice Based Commissioning for NHS North of Tyne. After which he was appointed Director for Public Health and Intelligence in National Services Scotland. PHI brings together Information Services Division and Health Protection Scotland.

Marion Bain
Co-Director of the Executive Delivery Group for Public Health Reform at The Scottish Government

Marion worked in a number of hospitals before specialising in public health and later established the Scottish Public Health Observatory. She has worked in local and national Health Boards throughout Scotland, the Scottish Government, and was Medical Director of NHS National Services Scotland. Marion is a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. She is currently Co-Director of the Executive Delivery Group for Public Health Reform.

Graham Watson
Executive Chair at Scottish Health Innovations Ltd.

Graham is an experienced non-exec director with a strong commercial track record as well as a former partner in a Big 4 accounting firm, with extensive experience working with SME clients delivering business development and strategic planning programmes and leading change initiatives. He has initiated and executed over 100 corporate transactions, valued at over £2bn and has lived and worked in Silicon Valley, as well as Scotland during my 35-year business career.

Professor Aileen Keel CBE
Director, Innovative Healthcare Delivery Programme (IHDP), The Farr Institute Scotland

AILEEN KEEL is seconded from Scottish Government to the Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics at the University of Edinburgh to lead the IHDP. Aileen joined the Scottish Office as a Senior Medical Officer in the Department of Health in 1992. She is Chair of the Scottish Cancer Task Force, Co-chair of COMQI (Clinical Outcomes and Measures for Quality Improvement), honorary consultant in haematology at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and has an Honorary Chair at the University of Edinburgh.


Chris Oliver
Professor Physical Activity for Health - University of Edinburgh

Chris Oliver is the Professor of Physical Activity for Health at the University of Edinburgh. He has advised the WHO and Scottish Government on ways to reduce sedentary behaviour. He recently retired as consultant orthopaedic trauma surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, where he also specialised in the management of chaos. He we will be speaking about empowering the #NextGen with world-changing tools to tackle major public health problems such as HIV, physical inactivity and motor vehicle injury.

Graham Mackenzie
Medical Doctor at NHS Lothian

Graham Mackenzie worked in general medicine and cardiology before training in Public Health. In addition to his roles in child health, maternal health and quality improvement he explores ways to use social media in public health, looking at ways to network, broadcast, learn and study the spread of health messages globally. He will be speaking about solving complex problems; averages being the enemy of progress; the inadequacy of routinely collected data; and thinking big, starting small and testing fast.


Scott Heald
Associate Director, NSS PHI / Head of Profession for Statistics, NSS

Scott is a statistician by background with 20 years experience in the health service and is currently an Associate Director with NHS National Services Scotland (NSS), leading its Data Management & Strategic Development function, with responsibility for the majority (approx 100) of health related data sets within NHS Scotland. He is also the Head of Profession for Statistics and has a leadership responsibility in ensuring the UK Statistics Code of Practice is implemented and adhered to across NHS NSS.

Lorna Jackson
Associate Director of Strategy, Business Development at NSS PHI

Lorna is Associate Director of Strategy and the Business Development Service at Public Health and Intelligence within National Services Scotland, providing analysis to support the transformation of information into intelligence.

Manuelle Debunne
Company Creation Executive at The University of Edinburgh, Medical Innovation Team

As 2013 Saltire Foundation Fellow, Manuelle has recently finished an executive and leadership training in Babson College, Boston. This programme helped her develop and comprehend entrepreneurial and leadership skills, which combine with a strong life science background to develop her interest in drug development and pharmaceutical field.

Grahame Cumming
NHS Lothian Innovation Champion

Grahame works with key public sector, academic and private sector organisations to develop innovation collaborations that seek to introduce new innovative healthcare solutions, that have been researched, evaluated and evidenced as being cost effective. He is keen to offer post-event support to any projects that show the potential to greatly improve the health of the citizens of Scotland.

Alex Chandler
Senior Information Analyst at NHS Information Service Division

Alex joined the Information Services Division part of NHS Scotland in 2013 after graduating with a degree in stats from the University of Glasgow. Focusing on skills and interests in open data and data innovation, he became one of the organisations open data champions focusing on the use and publishing of data that ISD are delivering. More recently, Alex has been working within mental health services focusing on improving access of these services on both national level and more locally with NHS Highland.

Tammy Watchorn
Head of Innovation at NHS National Services Scotland

Tammy is an enabler, educator, connector and facilitator with a focus on the innovation process and innovative outcomes for health. Since becoming Head of Innovation at the NSS, she has worked on a variety of projects aimed at improving healthcare innovation in Scotland. She currently serves as the Director of Public Sector Transformation at Pentacle the Virtual Business School.

Sally Kerr
Digital Innovation Manager at City of Edinburgh Council

Sally is the Digital Innovation Manager for the City of Edinburgh Council, a role including emerging technologies, and innovation activities across the Council and digital developments. She was previously the Council's Web Manager and developed a number of award winning websites including the Council's primary site. Tammy has a lead role in the Council's open data programme, running our portal and encouraging data publication. She also has experience of running hacks and challenge events.

Steph Wright
Project Development Manager for the Cancer Innovation Challenge

Steph is a Project Development Manager at The Data Lab Innovation Centre and manages the Cancer Innovation Challenge, a Scottish Funding Council funded project to encourage open innovation in data to improve cancer care in Scotland. Her diverse background started in astrophysics and then went through film, dance and then back to the sciences in genomics, then carbon capture and storage and now data science. She can offer insights into general communications, project management and innovation in healthcare.

Anna Grant
Policy and Development Officer at Carnegie UK Trust

Anna is a Policy and Development Officer at the Carnegie UK Trust. She works within their Digital Futures and Fulfilling Work themes, focusing around digital inclusion and data privacy. Specifically Anna has been leading the day-to-day management of the #NotWithoutMe programme, to highlight the digital needs of vulnerable young people and challenge the assumption that all young people are ‘digital natives’. Prior to joining the Trust, Anna worked within the commercial and social enterprise sector.

Idong Usoro
Director at Digital Treetop

Idon is an Innovation Consultant with extensive experience of developing and embedding digital health innovation, solutions and processes to problems. He brings broad knowledge on commercialisation, research and ethics, technical architecture, governance and cloud software development experience across Europe and North America having worked with SMEs and large FTSE 100 companies across a range of sectors.

Leah Lockhart
Digital Democratic Engagement Officer at The Democratic Society

Leah helps improve public services through person centered research and design. She's currently working with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and is a core organiser of the OneTeamGov network in Scotland, a movement of reform through practical action.

Dan Dickson
Young Scot 5Rights Youth Commissioner

Dan is currently a student at Edinburgh College and works with vulnerable communities of young people, in particular trans including non-binary and intersex young people. He is also on Young Scot's 5Rights commission, consulting for the Scottish Government on how Human Rights can be protected in the digital world.

Jaclyn Kaye
Proprietor at Armchair Books

Jaclyn is the co-owner of Armchair Books, a secondhand bookshop in Edinburgh's West Port. She previously worked as a public health researcher and on various digital projects in the public sector, but has since thrown it all away to spend her life balancing precariously on the top rung of a ladder, covered in antiquarian book dust. She comes down for meals.

Ian M Robertson
Consultant in People and Organisational Development, Strategy and Policy

Ian was a member of the winning team at the Local Transport Product Forge in May 2017 & has since mentored the CDD, ETIC and Public Health Product Forges. He began his graduate career working at QMU, and later moved to the Scottish Funding Council for Further and Higher Education where he worked in strategic planning and grant giving. Ian trained in evaluation with Manchester Institute of Innovation Research and holds a Postgraduate Diploma in People & Organisational Development from Roffey Park Institute.

Amy Hinchliffe
Designer at Everyone

Amy is a designer at Everyone, a digital agency based in Glasgow. She is passionate about applying creative thinking to problem solving and producing innovative design experiences.

Jamie McHale
Founder at Telaco

Jamie is the founder of Edinburgh-based business consultancy Telaco, as well as a Saltire Fellow in Entrepreneurship. He is an an entrepreneurial leader with a focus on strategy, technology and communications.

Silvia Colombo
Graduate Software Engineer

Silvia is an Informatics graduate whose interests include big data, emerging technologies, and user experience. She is a winner of the Smart Campus Community Contest and co-author of a big data-related scientific paper published in the Journal for Natural Language Engineering. She is currently a full-stack software engineer, passionate about making software functional, secure, and usable.

Roz Hewitson
Senior Project Manager at Realise

Roz is a senior project manager at Realise - a customer experience, design and build agency. She has 4 years of digital project management experience and she is particularly interested in user experience and service design aspects of projects though she also has experience in running large technical projects.

Asif Ishaq
Public Health Priorities Lead at The Scottish Government

Asif works in the Scottish Government leading the development of Public Health Priorities for Scotland, which will be published in spring 2018. He is committed to playing my part to create a healthier Scotland and to help reduce health inequalities.

Rod Walpole
Scientific Computing Officer at the Urban Big Data Centre

Rod specialises in GIS and spatial data analysis and is helping to set up the core Data Centre, ensuring that the spatial data sets it contains are managed efficiently and to develop an intuitive web mapping front end to display these resources. He has worked on data requirements for organisations including the Met Office and the European Space Agency and extensively with satellite and aerial remote sensing data in the past and is an Associate Fellow of the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society.

Peter Winstanley
Data & Standards at The Scottish Government

Peter is a data standards and engineering person with initial training in taxonomy and information modelling through a PhD in microbiology/immunology. He is well versed in assessing data quality and exploratory data analysis and has worked within the Scottish Government and other public-sector bodies to help them use various data in their organisations. He works with the EC and W3C on their data and standards activities and is currently co-chair of the W3C Data Exchange Working Group.

Lysimachos Zografos
Founder at Taka Apps

Lysimachos is a scientist by training, driven to translate the potential of biomedical and technological innovation to improve our health and lives. he has a solid understanding of innovation and commercialisation processes and a technical background in computational and molecular systems biology. Beyond academia, his professional experience includes drug discovery and digital health.

Christina Boididou
Research Data Scientist at Urban Big Data Centre

Christina is responsible for data analysis, enrichment and enhancement through statistical programming and machine learning. She recieved her diploma of Electrical and Computer Engineering from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki then worked at the Information Technologies Institute as a Research Associate, doing research on machine-learning-powered social media content verification. Her experience also includes working as a Software Developer focusing on back-end development and data engineering.

Ross Tuffee
Co-Founder at Dogfish Mobile

Ross set up Dogfish Mobile with Paul Burrowes 8 years ago just after Apple launched their iPhone. Dogfish Mobile is an enterprise mobile software development company focusing on the delivering behavior changing solutions for businesses, organisations and their consumers and their employees. He started his career as a management consultant with Ernst & Young and was then invited to join the Management Team of one of its clients, First Choice.

Gavin Wheeler
Senior Software Engineer at Toshiba Medical Visualization Systems (Europe) Ltd

Gavin is the Project Lead and Senior Software Engineer at Toshiba Medical Visualization Systems. He is responsible for a variety of Image Analysis and Applications software projects related to Healthcare, CT and Ultrasound.

David Anderson
Information Analyst at NHS National Services Scotland

David has worked in the national procurement division of NHS Scotland for a number of years and has been involved in the development of tools that can be used by budget holders and procurement professionals to identify opportunities to save money and reduce their overall spend. In addition, a suite of reports for the purchasing system, used by all health boards, has also been developed.

Dr Michael Barry
Emergency Medicine Doctor at St John's Hospital

Michael is a clinician software developer and junior medical doctor working in A&E. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2013 and completed his Foundation Training at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals. Whilst working on the Robotic Urology team, he was bitten by the “health tech bug” and took time out to complete a software development bootcamp. He is now exploring ways to use technology to solve some of the big problems in healthcare.

Calum Forsyth
CEO at Seedhaus

Calum is CEO and co-founder of Seed Haus and he has led investments in several high-growth tech startups and supported numerous founders, helping with product market fit, customer acquisition, and strategies for raising early stage capital. He holds a MSci(hons) from the University of Glasgow and a PhD from the University of Strathclyde and a position within Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde where he is responsible for the strategic leadership of the Enterprise Solutions programme.

Richmond Davies
Service Manager at NHS Information Services Division

Richmond is Service Manager at NHS Information Services Division responsible for Information Governance, Data Quality, Statistical Governance, Clinical Terminology, Open Data and Transforming Publications. His academic background is in information science.

Robert Skey
Head of Public Health Reform Policy at The Scottish Government

Robert is Currently Head of Public Health Reform Policy in the Scottish Government. Responsible for the structural reform of the Scottish public health landscape, including the production of related high level priorities and the establishment of a new single body for public health.

Paul Mathieson
Data Consultant at APL Business intelligence

Paul is Proficient, enthusiastic, hands on Business Intelligence Consultant with 15 years experience, currently running data consultancy company focusing on providing data engineering/BI expertise within healthcare. Experience includes BI strategic planning, multi disciplinary team/project management, pre-sales consulting, requirements gathering/ analysis, BI systems design/development, infrastructure implementation and system administration all utilising industry best practice.

Stuart Deed
Strategic Partnering Director at DHI

Stuart is a Strategic Partnering Director with responsibility for the development of partnerships which enable the commercialisation of digital technologies and services in health and care identified by the DHI as potentially disruptive or having significant market potential. He's inspired by the strength of innovation in digital health and care within the Scottish academic and business communities and is delighted to be involved helping to make these ideas become reality.

Kirstin Leath
Health and Social Care Manager

Kirstin has previously worked in a range of roles with the NHS, worked on digital health projects in work and outside for fun and now works with a Scottish Government agency on health policy. She completed her PhD in Biochem umpteen years ago and enjoys poking around in data. She looks askance at unlabelled axes.

Areti Manataki
Research & Teaching Fellow at the University of Edinburgh

Areti is a health informatics researcher, applying artificial intelligence techniques to process- and coordination-related problems in healthcare. She also teaches courses that introduce medical students and professionals to data science.

Robert Rea
Head of Business Development at Scottish Health Innovations Ltd.

Robert Rea is Head of Business Development for Scottish Health Innovations Ltd and holds a BSc (Hons) Developmental Biology, and a Ph.D in Biology. He completed post-doctoral research fellowships at Walter & Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne, Australia. After which he worked at the University of Queensland before becoming Automation Manager for Swedish biotech company Cellartis and he held the position of Business Development Executive at the University of St Andrews from 2013-2014.

Zahid Deen
Digital Health and Care Strategic Lead at Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland

Zahid actively works to increase citizen and third sector participation in innovative digital health and care. He is project director of ‘Our GP’, one of the largest co-design projects undertaken in Scotland, through which citizens and professionals collaborated to design future GP digital services. Zahid brings 15 years’ experience in digital and previously worked as a Policy Manager at the UK communications regulator, Ofcom and was the Scottish Government’s Head of Telecommunications Policy.


  • What if I can't start on Thursday evening or attend all of the event?
    While we highly recommend attending all of the event, we understand that due to dependents, work or other commitments this isn't possible for all of our participants. The first thing to note is that participants can start the event late, either on Friday morning or Friday evening - in fact, we keep registration open until Friday 5pm. When you register you'll be asked when you can start, and late starting participants are supported by the mentors in forming new teams or joining an existing team. If there are other parts of the event you are unable to attend, the most important thing is to communicate this to your team and the lead mentor at the event so they can plan accordingly. This is an especially important issue to raise during team formation. One of the most important days is Sunday, where we have pitch run-throughs. We do ask that if you want to present to the audience on Sunday evening, that you attend the whole of Sunday in order for the mentors to help you develop your presentation.
  • What is the situation with Intellectual Property (IP) at your events?
    We should stress that we are not lawyers or a law firm, and if you have concerns or specific issues, you should seek your own independent legal advice. However, neither Product Forge or our partners hold any IP rights to your project developed at the event, unless you have made a specific agreement to the contrary, and no such agreement is required to participate. The default situation is that you own what you build, and the default will hold true for almost all our participants; you will know if it doesn’t. It should be noted that ideas are presented in an open forum on Sunday, and given that ideas are not inherently protected (in the same way that your code, brand or other creative output is), you might consider this when deciding what to share at the event. That said, it’s our firm belief that projects are best developed in the open with external feedback, and most entrepreneurs err too much on the side of caution in this respect. With regard to IP issues within a team, one of the reasons we have strict limits on team sizes is that it is much easier to come to an agreement on IP after the event when there are a limited number of contributors. We can direct you to support after the event to help you with this. We strongly encourage project partners to release any data or source code that they are providing to our participants under an open source, commercially friendly licence (e.g. BSD/MIT, OGL, Creative Commons Attribution Only). Where this is not possible, there may be specific agreements required between you and our project partners to gain access to these resources, and such agreements may include clauses relating to your IP; however, you will not be required to access these resources in order to participate at the event.
  • What happens to projects after the event?
    That's entirely up to you - you own what you build, and it's up to you how you would like to see it taken forward, or not. However we hope that as many teams as possible will continue development of their projects, or pass them over to someone else to keep them going. We'll help you connect with support after the event, and in some cases our project partners can provide access to funding. In terms of what actually has happened after a Product Forge, in the past teams have gone on to secure funding for their concept, or worked with one of our partners as a collaboration. In some cases they haven't pursued their initial idea, but are continuing to work on other projects together. It's a common critisism of events like ours that whilst they are lots of fun, nothing long term comes out. We've demonstrated time and again that this isn't the case at Product Forge.
  • Why are you charging when other hackathons are free?
    Most hackathons run over 24 hours - ours last over three days and nights and the venue is kept open around the clock. Due to the costs of running an extended event and the problems of no-shows and drop-outs when providing complimentary tickets, we ask participants to pay a small cover charge to ensure they’re fully committed. Even on the basis of meals alone, we feel the tickets are more than value for money. Students can also apply for a concession of up to 80%, and in some circumstances, travel reimbursements can be provided. However, most people come to Product Forge to learn, or to prototype a new idea. At the end of the weekend you will have had hours of support and mentorship, and whatever you build is yours - neither Product Forge or our partners will hold any IP rights to your project.
  • Is Product Forge a hackathon?
    One of our past participants said that Product Forge was the “hackathon with a twist!” What did they mean by that? Whilst we incorporate many of the same elements of a hackathon as you’d expect - the intensity of the experience, developing a technical prototype - we also expect our participants to consider the business case behind what they’re building. This, in our opinion, is the essence of product development, and closer to the experience you would have working in a startup.
  • I am not technical, will I have anything to contribute?
    Yes, absoutely - Product Forge isn’t just about the developers! In fact, 50-60% of the participants at Product Forge are not technical, and are there instead to contribute business, design or other specialist knowledge. Whatever your background you’ll find something to contribute, and we’ll have mentors on hand to help you collaborate effectively with your team.
  • Do I need to have an idea to come to the event?
    No, not at all! We’ll be providing plenty of support and inspiration to get you thinking creatively, and ideas are developed as teams.
  • What if I already have a team, or what if I don't and I don't know anyone?
    Team formation happens at the event, and you don't need to know anyone else who is going. You'll quickly meet new people! Whilst you're welcome to attend the event with someone that you'd like to work with, we actively encourage participants to work with people they don't know. We also have strict guidelines on team size and teams need to have a balance of skills.
  • Is this only for students, am I too old?
    No! Product Forge is open to all, and whilst it used to be true that the majority of our participants were university undergraduates, this is no longer the case. Most participants at Product Forge are subject matter experts, freelancers and other professionals. Due to other commitments you may not want or be able to attend into the early hours like some of the student participants - that's completely understandable, and we just ask that you attend the team check-ins and communicate your availability to us and your team-mates.
  • What do I need to bring?
    We provide the food and drink, so all that is absolutely required is a laptop and lots of enthusiasm! If you're intending to stay late or sleep at the venue, please bring a sleeping bag, toiletries and a change of clothes. You may also want to consider bringing business cards and/or copies of your CV if you're hunting for work.
  • Do you have a code of conduct policy?
    Yes, [we have a code of conduct]( for which all attendees at our events are expected to abide by.



This is a past event and registration has now closed.


The Biscuit Factory

4-6 Anderson Place, Edinburgh, EH6 5NP