VocTech Showcase 2018


By Rebecca Garrod-Waters, CEO Ufi 

Learning is about sharing knowledge and ideas. This can happen in many forms, locations and across all ages. There is, however, an unfortunate perception in the UK that learning stops once you’ve left the school classroom. 

Ufi’s primary aim is to increase the quality of vocational learning through innovative technology. But more broadly, our aim is to change this perception and advocate the advantages of lifelong learning.

It’s for this reason that I find our annual VocTech Showcase event so rewarding. It is gratifying to watch passionate creators come together in one room to demonstrate their VocTech projects, share their experiences, build relationships and foster new ideas. 

Last week, we held our fourth VocTech Showcase. Over the past few years, we have seen the event grow substantially, in the number of attendees, but most importantly in the maturity of the projects that we have funded. Some projects attending this year were given funding in our first ever VocTech Seed Fund in 2013, some were granted funding only this year. But all projects arrived at the Showcase eager to learn from one another.

With thirteen live demos and many more project teams in attendance, the event also highlighted the range of inspiring work that has been achieved since Ufi was founded. From virtual reality and mobile apps to badging and micro-credentials, the array of vocational learning technologies was astounding. We are very proud to see how the projects we have funded over the years have developed and also to see so many inspiring people together for the benefit of UK learners. 

Taking centre stage on the night were four projects from organisations that show the potential that technology has to improve the quality and scale of vocational training in the UK: Bridgwater and Taunton College in partnership with National College for Nuclear, Learning Labs, iDEA and National Composites Centre.

Stefan Cecchini from Bridgwater and Taunton College kicked off the Showcase presentations by demonstrating how VR is being used in their PRACTICE simulator to train their apprentices in the nuclear industry. He then spoke about the huge potential for similar platforms to be used across all heavy industries. Veejay Lingiah from Learning Labs showed the audience how their Flash Academy tool is helping workers from non-English speaking backgrounds engage in workplace training. Kerensa Jennings presented iDEA (The Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award) which is an online platform to help people of all ages to gain and improve their digital skills. Finally, Dennis Crowley, explained how the National Composites Centre’s LayupRITE tool helps students in the manufacturing sector learn how to assemble composites in a practical way.

This year’s VocTech Showcase was also special for the Ufi team as we celebrated Ufi’s inaugural Ray Barnes Prize, an award created to continue the legacy of Ufi’s late-chairman Ray Barnes, a lifetime advocate of innovation-led skills training and development who we sadly lost last year. 

The Ray Barnes Prize for Impact through Innovation was awarded to Interactive Scientific (iSci). iSci were one of the first companies to gain funding in 2015. Their progress since then speaks volumes about the passionate work that the iSci team have put in over the past few years and upholds the values that Ray promoted throughout his career. 

iSci CEO Becky Sage accepted prize on stage and highlighted Ufi’s role in helping them in their journey to create Nano Simbox, a unique learning platform that brings to live molecular dynamics in the education world.  

We are very pleased to see that our passion to increase vocational learning through innovative technology is growing and showing so much progress. We already look forward to next year’s event! 

To find out more about the next Ufi funding round click here.

To discover more about the projects featued in this blog click here.