Guidelines: VocTech Seed

Information to help your application succeed

VocTech Seed 2017 call is open for applications from 24 April to 25 May 2017 (17:00)

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 funding round and our FAQs to understand what we are looking for and to guide your application.

You can also attend a workshop or a webinar to hear more and ask any questions you might have.To attend you will need to register on our Events page. 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.

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.

You must submit this electronically before 17:00 on 25 May 2017.  Please note that we do not accept late applications and if you are experiencing technical problems you need to tell us as soon as possible via info@ufi.co.uk

Applications are assessed on how well the project fits with Ufi’s overall mission and the specific objectives of the funding call.  Stage 1 applicants will be advised by the end of June whether or not they have been successful. Successful applicants will be invited to proceed 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 17:00 on 28 July 2017.

Ufi’s Board of Trustees will reach final decisions on funding by 30 September 2017. 

If you are successful, you will be allocated a Project Manager to work with you on a Project Initiation Document (PID) 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.

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.

VocTech Seed Funding Criteria

Our VocTech Seed fund plays an important role in creating a pipeline of new approaches by supporting innovative and creative projects at a relatively early stage of development.  It enables new ideas to reach a point where they can demonstrate their potential to customers or funders and reach the market. 

This call will support projects that show the potential to have a real impact in the world of vocational learning and to ultimately make a difference to how people learn and to the number of people gaining new skills. To achieve this, projects need to offer high quality, innovative solutions that are flexible and adaptable to future change; are cost effective and could improve business efficiency.  Projects must aim to improve outcomes for learners and improve the quality of vocational teaching and training.

This is part of Ufi’s work to encourage greater awareness of the potential for vocational learning solutions - encouraging digital innovators to explore the market for voctech solutions and providing evidence to potential investors and purchasers of the range and scale of opportunities in voctech.

How much funding is available?

Up to £50,000 is available for projects of up to 12 months duration.

The funding level and the timescale have been carefully considered to encourage applicants with well-developed ideas for digital vocational learning innovations, which need further development and proof of concept testing with small groups of learners.

The funding offered 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 Seed looking for?

        • Projects where the applicants are really thinking differently about how to use technology to deliver effective vocational learning at scale and which are genuinely ground breaking in their overall approach, their technology, or the sector or community of learners to which they will be applied.

        • Our VocTech Seed funding is aimed at projects at an earlier stage and smaller in scope than other UFI funding rounds.  However, they must still show real ambition and vision, and an understanding of how the project can be subsequently taken to market and scaled up to reach a large number of learners.

        • Projects aimed 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.

        • We are particularly keen to support projects which will have long term impact on employers, communities of learners or sectors which cannot easily access current provision because of industry or market conditions, past learning history or other factors.

        • 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.

        • 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 – technology can transform differentiated learning, enabling individual learners to progress according to their own needs, skills, interests, readiness, or choice.  

What will VocTech Seed fund?

              • The design and development 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.

              • This can include projects looking to extend an existing approach to a new market, industry or community of learners; or the develop of innovative technology to advance an existing learning approach; as long as there is significant innovation and intention to achieve a step change beyond normal business development activity.

              • Projects that show good understanding of the vocational learning market and provide evidence of the issue they plan to address. They must describe how the learning will be delivered in addition to the technical advances that are proposed; and include plans for testing with relevant users/learners and for incorporating feedback into product development.

              • Ambitious projects which show the potential to scale up and reach a large number of learners; and with a vision of their route to market and outline plan for reaching their users and customers.

Projects must:

              • Focus on vocational learning

              • Provide an innovative digital solution to a defined learning issue

              • Offer new learning tools, not just new learning content

              • Understand who the customers will be and the likely route to market

              • Have ambition for the future growth of the project and a vision for how it could be scaled up to impact on a large number of learners

              • 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?

The VocTech Seed funding round is likely to be particularly suitable for early stage businesses, smaller digital innovators and other organisations looking to test new digital approaches on a small scale.  It is also suitable for digital innovators currently working in other markets who can see opportunities to adapt their approach to vocational learning. It may be particularly useful to edtech businesses looking to expand their products and series to delivery to the voctech market. 

However, it is open to all organisations, including charities, trade bodies, existing learning providers and employers who would like to test new approaches to using digital technology for vocational learning.  Applications can be strengthened by demonstrating a collaborative approach, especially where employers and digital learning specialists are working together.  We do not have a fixed view on how collaboration is structured or who is the applicant or lead partner but we do expect all partners to be actively engaged in project activity. 

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.

As a charity, Ufi must ensure that grants given to any organisation that is not a charity demonstrate public benefit. We must be able to see evidence of how your approach will benefit learners.  We also need to see that you have defined the community of learners you plan to target and provided evidence of the total size of the group your project could reach. Finally, we need to make sure that our funding is sufficient to deliver the project but 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.

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

Tips for applicants 

  • Technology considerations on scaling up - guidance

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.

  • Download our e-flyer document which provides summary information about this call.

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