Fund criteria

This call will support projects with innovative ideas for solving real, practical problems in UK adult vocational learning.

What is VocTech Seed looking for?

We want to see innovative digital vocational learning ideas which are:

  • Genuinely innovative in their overall approach, their technology, or the sector or community of learners to which they will be applied.
  • Ideas where people are really thinking differently about how to use technology to deliver effective vocational learning at scale.
  • Projects that look at any and every aspect of vocational learning, including (but not limited to) design and development of learning tools, new delivery models, evaluation and assessment, accreditation and recording evidence of achievement.
  • Projects targeted at extending learning provision to sectors, industries and communities of learners that currently lack good access to vocational learning due to factors including market/sectoral structures, cost, time, distance or language.

This year we are keen to draw upon the insights we have gathered from market intelligence work and engagement with stakeholders. These have highlighted areas where we feel there is a both a need for innovation in adult vocational skills and opportunity for scale. Issues, for example, include:

  • Innovation in assessment, enabling learners to access feedback and content tailored to them, when they need it
  • Innovative use of data, including AI and big data to improve outcomes for learners
  • Making it easier and cheaper for trainers and teachers to develop their own high quality, interactive e-learning content for vocational learners
  • Creating ecosystems with relevant employers and learning organisations to create new ways for people to validate their skills and create career pathways

What will VocTech Seed fund?

VocTech Seed will fund the design, development and early stage testing of novel approaches to digital vocational learning; helping to take those ideas through basic prototyping to the next stage of 'seeding the market' by delivering a first proof of concept prototype and planning a route to market. This could include:

  • Design, development, and prototyping
  • Refining learning design
  • Small scale testing with users
  • Planning a route to market & strategies for scaling
  • Project Management
  • Evidencing impact & what works

Projects must:

  • Focus on adult vocational learning in the UK (be aimed at adults (16+))
  • Offer new learning tools, not just new learning content
  • Show real innovation and risk to justify Ufi funding
  • Show a clear understanding of the vocational learning market, have evidence of a defined learning need and describe how they expect the tech will improve outcomes for learners, in addition to the technical advances
  • Show real innovation and risk to achieve a step change beyond normal business development to justify Ufi funding
  • Have plans for testing with relevant learners/trainers/employers and for incorporating feedback from testing into product development
  • Show ambition and vision for how the project could get to market and be eventually scaled up to reach a large number of learners, if the proof of concept proves successful

Ufi does not fund...

  • Core costs/general overheads of non-charities
  • Training places for individuals – we focus on the potential for long term impact for many
  • Standard ‘content’ projects, for example a project purely to address coding or entrepreneurship skills. If you are teaching a digital skill it isn't enough to assume that this would be a project Ufi would fund. We are interested in how the innovation in the approach, using technology, improves outcomes for vocational learners
  • Basic digital skills – using Office, getting online
  • Schools. Sometimes there are spill over benefits for those aged 14 -16, but this must not be the focus of the project
  • Routine business or product development where there is no public benefit case for charitable funding
  • Research projects
  • Degrees / degree level studies
  • Projects for beneficiaries outside the UK
  • Generic employability skills such as CV building or time management
  • Enterprise or entrepreneurship

If your organisation is not a charity

Ufi funds projects involving charities, private companies, community interest companies and other not for profit organisations. As a charity itself, Ufi must ensure that any grant given to any organisation that is not also a charity demonstrates public benefit.

This means being able to see evidence of how the proposed approach will benefit learners, how the community of learners has been defined and the total size of the group the project could reach. Projects must always explain clearly why they need Ufi funding to support their project and how Ufi’s charitable funding will make a difference. Finally, we need to make sure that our funding is not more than is necessary to deliver the project and is not replacing private funding. The questions we ask in our application forms help us understand how your proposal can have a beneficial public outcome, both immediately and in the longer term.

Return to the fund overview

Continue reading about the VocTech Seed Grant Fund.