Guidelines: VocTech Impact

Information to help your VocTech Impact application succeed

VocTech Impact 2017 funding round is open for applications from 1 to 28 February 2017 (9am). 

Ufi uses an online application process.  Once you have registered on the Ufi website and created an account, you can log in, access the application form, save your draft and return to it at any time while the funding round is open.

There is information and guidance on our website.  Please look at our funding strategy, Learning Without Walls, the specific criteria for the fund (see next tab on this page) and our FAQs to understand what we are looking for and guide your application.

You can also attend a workshop or a webinar to hear more and ask any questions you might have. You can email us with general questions about the fund at info@ufi.co.uk. Workshops also offer the opportunity of a face-to-face discussion with members of the Ufi team about your specific project idea.

Process and dates

Ufi has a two stage application process. Access to Stage 2 is by invitation only, following success at Stage 1.  Evaluation at each stage is undertaken by an expert panel, selected to represent the experience and expertise relevant to the fund. Final funding decisions are made by the Ufi Board of Trustees.  The total size of the budget for the call is confidential and Ufi’s aim is to fund all projects which meet our criteria. 

Stage 1 requires that you complete a short form outlining details of your organisation, your project and the funding requested.

The deadline for submitting a Stage 1 application is 9am on 28 February 2017.

Please note that we do not accept late applications.

All eligible applications are assessed on how the project fits with Ufi’s overall mission and the specific objectives of the funding call.  Successful applicants will be invited to proceed to Stage 2.  

Stage 1 applicants will be advised by 4 April 2017 whether or not they have been successful in moving forward to Stage 2.

Stage 2 requires you to complete a more detailed application with more information on the technology, route to market and deliverability of the project.  As part of your application, you will need to provide additional information in the form of a project plan and budget.

The deadline for submission of Stage 2 applications is 9am on 28 April 2017.

Ufi Board will reach final decisions on funding by 30th June 2017.

If you are successful, you will be allocated a Project Manager to work with you on a PID (Project Implementation Document) that sets out how the project will be delivered and the milestones which need to be achieved for funding to be drawn down. 

Each project is unique and we will work with you to agree what is best and most reasonable for your project.  It is for you to determine how your project is best delivered and to work with your Project Manager to agree a monitoring plan. The funding milestones will be set as part of this process.

This call will support projects that can show real impact in the world of vocational learning and make a significant difference to how people learn and to the number of people gaining new skills. 

Funded projects must be able to demonstrate how novel approaches to digital technology can be used to transform access to vocational learning; to achieve greater scale in delivery of vocational learning; and evidence the value of digital approaches to vocational learning more widely to encourage further innovation and adoption of new technology.

How much funding is available?

Between £150k and £300k is available for projects of up to 18 months duration.  

The funding level and the timescale have been carefully considered to encourage applicants able to deliver a significant level of impact and the volume of activity we are expecting. 

The funding for any individual project depends on the problem being addressed; and the nature and scale of the solution proposed. Each will be considered on its merits and the costs assessed against the proposed work plan and timetable. 

What is VocTech Impact looking for?

    • Projects delivering directly to a high number of learners during the project duration, using novel approaches which can ultimately achieve even greater scale and demonstrate the value of digital solutions to a wider audience.
    • The emphasis of the project must be on new learning tools which use genuinely innovative methods to raise the skills levels for a significant number of learners and not just on learning content.
  • Proposals where the early stages of development and initial testing are complete and there is a clear plan for how the programme can be rolled out to a large number of learners.
  • The project does not have to be completely new – but must have some significant novel element.  This might be deployment in a new industry sector or with a new community of learners; or the development of new technology to achieve scale.   
  • Applicants need to clearly explain how Ufi support is going to make something happen that could not otherwise happen, make it happen more quickly or at a greater scale.

What particular areas is the fund focused on?

This is an open call and we are interested in creative and interesting ideas from all industries, sectors and technologies, in line with our normal parameters.  Some of the areas where we believe there is great scope for digital approaches to vocational learning are shown below, but we equally welcome ideas which fall outside of these:

  • Learning in context - learning that is delivered where and when it is to be used enables learners to make connections between knowledge and its application.  Digital technology offers mechanisms for delivering vocational learning on a ‘just-in-time’ basis, in more places and for learners to have control of what and where they learn. 
  • Automation and machine learning – Machine learning underpins adaptive learning systems that can predict student outcomes and generate personalised learning recommendations on what next to study or practice, based on individual assessments of performance, learning style and so on.
  • Hyper-local projects linking employers and learners – Innovations in digital technology can match the needs of learners and employers at a very local level.  Technologies developed at this level could be replicable across wider geographies for increased impact and scale.
  • Analytic tools – Data collected from learners and from engagement in on-line learning and networks can be used to improve the learning experience, enhance understanding of the links between inputs and outputs in learning, and improve information for educators and learners.
  • Harnessing digital to support individualised and differentiated learning – Digital technology can transform differentiated learning, enabling individual learners to progress according to their own needs, skills, interests, readiness, or choice.  Adaptive systems use smart software and personalised information to assist learners to navigate their learning journeys.

Projects must:

  • Focus on vocational learning
  • Provide a solution to a defined learning problem, focused on the needs of employers and learners
  • Have a clear plan for rollout, with a realistic plan for reaching and engaging users
  • Deliver to a large numbers of learners during the funding period; and have the potential for greater impact once Ufi funding has ceased  
  • Have a plan for business sustainability beyond the period of Ufi funding
  • Be realistic and deliverable within the timeframe

What kinds of organisations can apply?

VocTech Impact is looking for projects which can reach a large number of learners, with the potential for further roll out to an even greater number and for this reason Ufi expects to be working with larger, more established organisations than in some of our other funding calls.

This can include including charities, trade bodies and existing learning providers and other private sector organisations (providing there is a sufficient balance of public/private benefit).

As a charity, Ufi’s funding decisions must ensure that public benefit is greater than private sector benefit. To meet this test, applications from ‘for-profit’ organisations must show the wider societal benefits the project will deliver and a commitment to Ufi’s work to showcase practical examples of digital delivery of vocational learning and to networking with other Ufi projects.

We welcome applications for projects involving more than one organisation working in collaboration.  We do not have a fixed view how a collaboration is organised or who should be the applicant / lead partner but we do expect all partners to be active participants in the project.

The majority of organisations we fund are UK-based.  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.

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

Tips for applicants 

Publications

  • 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.

Projects

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. 

Events

Sign up for a pre-application event where you can meet Ufi staff and discuss your potential project. There will be workshops for applicants on:

Register for a web chat with our Chief Executive. There will be webchats for prospective applicants on:

FAQs

Please review our general FAQs which should answer most of your questions. Specific FAQs from the VocTech Impact workshops and webinars will be published on this page as they arise. If you have a question which is not included please email info@ufi.co.uk.  

Frequently Asked Questions

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