Information to help your application succeed

The Manufacturing Skills funding round is open for applications from 26 October 2016 – 14 December 2016 (9am). Join our mailing list to keep in touch and receive regular updates. 

Application is via a simple online process.  Register and create an account – then you can log in, access the Stage 1 application form, save your draft and return to it at any time while the funding round is open. As well as information and guidance on our website, there are workshops and webinars to help you. All applications are made online. 

Stage 1

Complete a short form outlining details of your organisation, project and required grant and submit this electronically before the closing date of 14 December 2016 (9am).

All applications will be reviewed and selected applicants will be invited to proceed to Stage 2.  Applicants will be advised by 23 January 2017 whether they have been successful in moving forward to Stage 2 or not.

Stage 2

You will be asked for more detail on the project's goals, beneficiaries, costs and communications. The deadline for submission of Stage 2 applications is 22 February 2017 (9am).

Evaluation at each stage is undertaken by an expert panel. Final funding decisions are made by the Ufi Board of Trustees.  

In our evaluation at Stage 1 and Stage 2, we will look at how well projects meet Ufi priorities.  Please look at our funding strategy – Learning Without Walls, our funding criteria and the FAQs to better understand what we are looking for and guide your application.

We encourage you to attend a workshop or webinar which will enable you to better understand the criteria, ask questions and discuss your idea informally with the Trust.  

We will undertake the normal background checks on organisations who apply. 

Funding Award

If successful at Stage 2 projects will be required to complete a Project Implementation Document (PID) and Funding Agreement which will be approved by an Ufi Project Manager. 

Projects will be monitored over their duration and organisations will be asked to report on how they are meeting their stated goals. Projects will be expected to attend three #ManufacturingSkillsFund workshops over the funding period.  Workshops are for the benefit of projects, to aid collaboration and provide access to support. Attendance is mandatory and a condition of funding.

Other Ufi Funding Opportunities

To keep informed about funding rounds, please register with Ufi if you haven’t already signed up for our mailing list.

#ManufacturingSkillsFund is intended to stimulate new ideas and approaches to technical skills development. We want to see applications that can test and demonstrate the potential of digital technology to develop new ways of learning which have a positive impact on cost, quality or access to new contracts or markets.  

Ufi will provide funding and support to help ventures to develop these ideas into more robust, demonstrable digital products or services.

Successful ventures can receive grant funding of between £50,000 and £150,000 for a project lasting up to 18 months.

For projects funded via #ManufacturingSkillsFund, Ufi does not ask for an equity stake or for loan repayments. 

What are we looking for? 

For this call we are inviting applications in one or more of the following areas: 

• Projects which have the potential to address current and future skills shortages in technical skills (e.g. Robotics / Maintenance / Quality / Systems and Process).

• Projects which have the potential to test new methods to develop vocational skills using digital technology.  This could include blended learning, learning in shared industrial settings, smartphones / wearable technology and the application of VR and AR technology in vocational learning.

• Projects which use digital technology to help upskill and bring new talent into the sector by providing bridges to employment 

Projects must be:

• Vocational, focusing on the skills that adults (post 16) need for work

• Collaborative, involving employers, SMEs in the supply chain and ed tech / learning design experts

• Able to demonstrate how they deliver against priorities for the sector

• Able to identify target audience and what impact the project with have on learners and business productivity

• Realistic and deliverable within the timeframe

We will not fund:

• Pure research projects

• Projects from large companies unless they primarily involve SMEs in their supply chain

• Projects for, or targeted at, schools or universities

Your venture should:

• Have identified who is involved and what their role is within the collaboration. Endorsement of your project by an employer or partner is not the same as collaboration. You will need to be able to demonstrate how the different partners in your project will contribute to the development and delivery of the project

• Be able to clearly explain the adult vocational learning issue you are seeking to address. You need to be able to demonstrate your understanding of the specific skills requirement your project aims to address and how your project will make an impact on business productivity and competitiveness

• Be ‘scalable’ – we are looking for technology solutions that can impact widely as they grow; describe how you think your approach can do this.

• Have identified their target users and, ideally, undertaken some feasibility testing with small groups of users and/or beneficiaries to illustrate its potential and demand, and show how you have responded to user feedback in both design and development 

By the end of this funding you will have:

• Evaluated and evidenced the potential of your product/service to address a vocational learning challenge

• A more robust, working digital product/service which has been piloted with its intended audience

• Identified next steps for developing your product/service and be able to demonstrate the potential of your approach to your identified future customers or partners 

Who can apply to the #ManufacturingSkillsFund?

The majority of organisations we fund are UK-based.  But we will consider applications from outside the UK if they can clearly demonstrate how they will address vocational learning challenges faced in the UK.  We only fund projects that can demonstrate their impact in the UK.

Applications can come from:

Organisations, education providers, non-for-profits, charities, entrepreneurs, teams or companies who want to apply their talent and technology to address vocational learning issues in the UK manufacturing sector

Manufacturing SMEs, industry bodies, membership organisations and industrial collaboration centres, such as Catapults

Start-ups, early-stage ventures or teams working within large organisations who are looking to develop a radically new approach

I want to apply, what next?

All applications must be made online. If you think you have what we are looking for, then register, sign in, then complete and submit our concise online application form. Forms will be available on our website when the #ManufacturingSkillsFund opens on 26 October 2016. The closing date for applications is 14 December 2016 at 9am.   

We recommend that all applicants sign up for one of our pre-application events or webinars to find out more about the criteria for the fund and to talk to the Trust informally about your idea.

To help you understand what Ufi is likely to fund, here are some sources of further information and guidance.

Presentation and tips for applicants 

Rebecca Garrod-Waters explains #ManufacturingSkillsFund  - slides from webinars 

Manufacturing skills fund - FAQ from workshops and webinars

Top 10 tips for applicants - summary guidance

Technology considerations on scaling up - guidance


Our five year funding strategy, 'Learning Without Walls

Our Scaling Up Report, which gives background on where we think the gaps lie in current vocational learning provision, and some of the potential opportunities.

FE projects should look at the Feltag report, and consider how your proposed project could improve the use of technology for learning and skills in FE.

Read about the skills issues facing the engineering and manufacturing sector. These are interesting pieces from SEMTA and the EEF. The Automotive Industrial Partnership have produced detailed reports on skills needs and provision. 

You might want to read Manufacturing, Britain’s Future which considers how technologies such as Internet of Things, Internet of Services and Big Data will fundamentally change how manufacturing works and improve productivity and efficiency on the shop floor. 


We are looking for projects which have a new digital solution for a vocational learning need. Successful applicants have projects which bring both the technology and the route to learners.

For inspiration, look at other projects we have funded. We do not think there is only one solution to the big challenges posed by increasing digital vocational learning, so do not be deterred if a past project seems to cover similar ground. Successful projects demonstate a novel use of technology and a clear route to market for the proposed product/service. 


Come to a pre-application event where you can meet Ufi staff and discuss your potential project. 

Attend a web chat with our Chief Executive


Please review our general FAQs which should answer most of your questions. You can also look at specific FAQs from the manufacturing skills fund workshops and webinars. If you have a question which is not included please email FAQs will be updated to cover common questions as they arise. 


Frequently Asked Questions

For more information about the application process and more technical advice regarding what is needed,
please visit our Frequently Asked Questions