Close this search box.

Improvement Districts Innovate to Support Scotland’s Towns

Business Improvement Districts all across Scotland build digital high streets with support from Scottish Government fund (please see local case studies in notes section).

Local businesses and high streets all across Scotland are being supported to innovate and go digital to help trading continue during the COVID-19 outbreak by Business Improvement Districts. 

At the end of March, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government announced a special £1 million BIDs Resilience Fund to empower them to support local businesses to adapt to the current crisis and explore digital solutions to maintain trading. The fund is administered through Scotland’s Improvement Districts, the national centre for BIDs in Scotland. 

So far, several partnerships have been agreed or further developed giving local BIDs access to a series of digital platforms for their own businesses. They include:

  • Hungrrr – online food ordering system which allows businesses and towns to create bespoke pages – used by BID St. Andrews and Discover Dunblane BID (St. Andrews, Dunblane and rural Stirlingshire).
  • Miconex – local town centre gift card – used by Milngavie BID (Milngavie), Perth and other sites.
  • Pay it forward campaign with Collection Pot crowndfunder – Aberdeen Inspired BID (Aberdeen)
  • Serveback – online localised business directories – Inverness BID (Inverness)
  • Destination Digital – holistic digital communications, social media platforms and online business directory – Cupar Now (Cupar)

Business Improvement Districts are collaborative business improvement projects whereby local businesses vote to establish a company to deliver joint economic and business development initiatives from a shared fund.

Local businesses agree to pay an additional levy on top of their business rates to pay for projects that will improve the local economy and business outcomes for businesses and communities alike. There are 37 active BIDs across Scotland with many more in the pipeline.

Speaking about the initiatives delivered by local BIDs, Phil Prentice, the Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnerships and Programme Director of Scotland’s Improvement Districts, said:

“Thanks to support from the Scottish Government through the £1 million BIDs Resilience Fund, BIDs across Scotland are supporting local businesses to innovate with digital platforms that allow them to keep trading during this difficult time. We’re glad to be able to strike up these national partnerships to allow BIDs and town centres to establish digital high streets and business directories so people can still support their towns by shopping local.

“This has been a hugely difficult time for town centres and local businesses, and it will be important that we work together on the far side to ensure this innovation to continue as our high streets continue to change and evolve. However, what this crisis has shown is how resilient and creative our town centres can be and this bodes well for the future.”


  1. For media enquiries, contact Gareth Brown ( / 07907 520571)
  2. More information about Scotland’s Improvement Districts can be found here.
  3. A selection of case study information can be found below.
  4. Image: Mohamed Hassan, from Pixabay.

Case studies

Hungrrr (BID St Andrews, & Dunblane BID / Stirlingshire Towns)

The #LoveStAndrews Market Place delivered by BID St Andrews and powered by the Hungrrr Platform aims to provide a marketplace where all local businesses with existing delivery and/or click and collect services and those businesses who would like to adapt to this model during this challenging economic period can do so whilst adhering to the current restrictions. 

The app will expand from the traditional hot food delivery app to include all sectors and services. The app will help to drive revenue streams, save jobs and ensure that businesses survive in the long run. 

#LoveStAndrews will local customers connected to their local independent businesses despite being socially distanced from them.

Jane Kennedy, Manager BID St Andrews said:

“We were so impressed when we saw how the Hungrrr Platform was supporting and driving  business forward in Dundee and felt they were the ideal partner for us to support our Marketplace App here in St Andrews. We realised how absolutely essential it was for our local businesses to be supported in their efforts to continue to provide amazing products and services during this current crisis. 

Considering the enormous constraints on how businesses are able to operate we feel that the #LoveStAndrews Marketplace App with its delivery/click and collect model offers businesses the chance to drive revenues, secure jobs and provide a service to the local community, whilst also adhering to the government advice and social distancing rules. We can’t wait to launch so we can support local and continue to #LoveStAndrews.”

Scott Campbell, Managing Director of Hungrrr said:

“The Hungrrr platform was set up originally to help restaurants and takeaways get online quickly with world class app and web technology. It has allowed hundreds of businesses to save thousands in commissions from the other delivery providers such as JustEat and Deliveroo

Over the years the platform has continually evolved and it now is flexible enough to allow almost any type of business to become e-commerce enabled. 

During this recent pandemic Hungrrr has been able to assist businesses to continue to trade that otherwise would have had to close. It is hard to imagine a piece of software to be more perfectly designed than our platform to assist businesses in this environment. We are able to create a customer designed website with native apps and payment options including card and Apple Pay etc. We can do this within days rather than weeks or months. 

We feel very proud to have been chosen to partner with BID St Andrews and #lovestandrews Market place. We look forward to assisting the local businesses to reach out to their customers in a way that might never have done before. We are very happy to assist in ensuring that customers are able to buy local and support their local businesses while still adhering to social distancing guidelines”. 

Hungrrr are also involved in a new High Street First – Rural Stirling Digital Marketplace app for Discover Dunblane BID, together with the newly launched convenience store ordering and delivery app Snappy Shopper, and developed by Dundee-based MTC Media.

Miconex (Milngavie BID)

Original content for below article here: 

A Scottish town is calling for residents to give extra support to local businesses during Covid-19 lockdown.

Milngavie, in East Dunbartonshire, has issued an appeal to the population of some 13,000 to purchase a pre-paid gift card.

The Milngavie Gift Card, which was launched last November by Milngavie Town Centre BID, is an innovative scheme that aims to keep money in the community.

The card is a pre-paid MasterCard that is accepted in more than 50 businesses in the town.

The card works in the same way as department store or shopping centre gift cards but within Milngavie town.

Graeme Ross is the chair of Milngave BID, an independent organisation funded by all the businesses in the town.

He said: “Milngavie has many businesses that really need the support of local people just now.

“While some, such as the butcher, fishmonger and pet shop, are still open for customers many others have had to close, or scale back their operations.

“We hope that as well as shopping locally, residents will buy a Milngavie Gift Card for themselves or for other people.

“The more money we can lock into the town during the Covid-19 pandemic and afterwards, the better it will be for the survival of our businesses, both small and large.”. 

Miconex has also launched a new partnership with Collection Pot on 1 May to enable the collection of money online to load onto local gift cards.

Milngavie Improvement District have already established plans to reward care workers in Milngavie by setting up Collection Pots for individual care providers who will be rewarded with the Milngavie Gift Card. This will allow people to recognise local key workers whilst supporting the local economy.

Collection Pot (Aberdeen / Aberdeen Inspired)

Aberdeen Inspired have teamed up with Crowdfunder on the campaign Pay it Forward, to offer businesses a platform to gather funds from customers and supporters for services to be used at a later date. Crowdfunder cover all platform and transaction fees, meaning fundraising is 100% free for local businesses during the coronavirus crisis.

Read more:

Serveback (Inverness BID)

Grant MacLennan, Founder & CEO, Serveback said:

“ServeBack was a project kicked off in response to the Covid-19 crisis and its effect on local economies and its businesses. We saw there was a need for individuals to be matched with local businesses to both purchase much needed products and provide a way to support local economies.

ServeBack’s catalogue has grown organically with both businesses owners, and customers, adding the details of local business and how they are continuing to serve throughout the pandemic. BID organisations, such as Inverness, have added the businesses within their district to increase the number of people aware of how the businesses in Inverness have adjusted during this time. 

In response to the activity of the Inverness BID we have added the ability to have pages specific to a region. e.g We are currently working on other features like this to help focus on local areas. 

As the project continues, we welcome other BID organisations to get in contact to defined how we can best serve local businesses and economies though, and post, the pandemic.”.

Destination Digital (Cupar / Cupar Now)

A testimonial from the Cupar Now Group’s Chair (Alison Strachan) and elected representative (Cllr Margaret Kennedy):

“As Scotland’s newest Improvement District and only Digital model, we have been impressed by the level of support Destination Digital Ltd has been able to provide during the Covid-19 crisis.

They have been quick to adapt to the considerable changes impacting on the town’s business community and have demonstrated significant levels of support that have not only continued all that the Digital Improvement District has been tasked too deliver but have gone above and beyond to provide a much needed ‘go to’ hub for the community – disseminating regular, concise and clear messaging to help all. This has included support for businesses, numerous community partners, our culture and tourism sector, education providers and – most importantly – the town’s health and social care partnerships.

Destination Digital Ltd have also helped businesses to collaborate to provide much-needed support for the most vulnerable in and around Cupar. The core focus may have changed from what we were all expecting when the Ballot was won last December, but the flexibility, response and understanding demonstrated by CuparNow is more than proving the value of managed, integrated digital support for everyone in our community.”

In the 28 days to 1 April, CuparNow’s messaging engaged with more than 30,000 people, generated 28,369 video views and reached more than 40,000. Their Blog became the ‘go to’ resource for much needed information on local services: receiving 2,800 unique views in the final week of March. 

Read the full case study about actions taken by Cupar Now / Desitnation Digital here.