A Scottish Government challenge launched by Forestry and Land Scotland has helped create an award winning business that could benefit forestry around the world.

The FLS 'Civ Tech' challenge – to find a way of improving the chances of tree seed surviving and germinating to produce the seedlings that will sustain the ongoing success of Scotland’s £1bn forestry sector – met with a huge response from technical innovators.

One proposed solution, put forward by SilviBio, a new-start set up as a direct result of the challenge, is a seed coating ‘survival capsule’ for conifers. The coating provides a water source that will improve the survival of tree seedlings by 40% in drought conditions.

FLS innovation manager, Josh Roberts, welcomed news of the award, saying that it was an endorsement of the benefits of approaching an issue by challenging companies to innovate.

“The Civ Tech challenge programme is a great – it’s effectively a way of crowd-sourcing solutions for a range of challenges that Scotland faces and it invites some of Britain’s best, technologically minded, innovative thinkers to put forward their ideas," said Mr Roberts.

“The level of interest was amazing and some of the ideas pretty ingenious. The seed coating solution, which will be of benefit to many countries around the world, is a game-changer and it’s great to see that level of creativity and hard work recognised with a national industry award.”

SilviBio won the GROW Agri-Tech Business Plan Competition for 2020. GROW and Agri-TechE both aim to encourage and support the growth of a world-leading network of innovative farmers, producers, scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs who share a vision of increasing the productivity, profitability and sustainability of agriculture.