VocTech Impact 2018: Guidelines

Information to help your VocTech Impact application succeed

VocTech Impact 2018 funding round is open for applications from 13 June to 11 July 2018 (5pm). 

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 from the 'Funding' menu, save your draft and return to it at any time while the funding round is open.

There is information and guidance on these pages.  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 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, but please note that we cannot discuss your specific project in detail during a webinar or by email.

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 5pm on 11 July 2018.

We do not accept late applications. If you experience technical problems you need to tell us as soon as possible via info@ufi.co.uk.

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 in early August 2018 whether or not they have been successful. Successful applicants will be invited to proceed to Stage 2 which opens on 14 August. 

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 7th September 2018.

Ufi’s Board of Trustees will reach final decisions on funding by 31 October 2018.

What happens if my application is successful?

Successful applicants will receive a conditional offer letter of funding which sets out the requirements for due diligence, what needs to be done to complete the funding agreement and an invitation to an induction webinar.

The Ufi funding agreement is in two parts: the Ufi Standard Terms & Conditions of Grant and a Project Initiation Document (PID).

You will be allocated a Project Manager to work with you to agree a PID. The PID 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. We will expect you to set clear objectives for the project, that describe the outputs and outcomes the project aims to achieve. 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.

Improving UK skills through digital vocational learning

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.

Scaling up the change in vocational learning

Ufi aims to help raise UK workforce skills, by promoting innovative use of digital technology to increase the number of adults accessing vocational learning. Ufi believes that digital technology can play a greater role in enabling adults to get the skills needed for work in the 21st century. We want to see digital tech making a real change to how vocational learning is developed and delivered; and to scale up this impact to make vocational learning better, more accessible and more affordable.

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 skill; helping us to build a better, quicker, digital future for vocational learning. This means looking for projects that:

  • Use digital technologies in new ways to enable large numbers of learners to develop new skills during the project duration.
  • Demonstrate how this new approach can be used to achieve even greater scale in delivery of vocational learning.
  • Help to evidence the value of digital approaches to vocational learning more widely.

In this round we are NOT looking for:

  • Learning Management Systems
  • Platforms
  • Brokerage projects

Except where there is genuine innovation, in particular around inter-operability .

Solving practical problems

Ufi supports projects that aim to solve practical problems in vocational learning and does not fund speculative build it and they will come type solutions. Projects must start with clearly identifiable learning issues, describe the problem they aim to address, and offer high quality, innovative solutions that are flexible and adaptable to future change. By improving outcomes for learners and improving the quality of vocational teaching and training, Ufi projects should show how they will produce tangible benefits and enable people to gain skills directly needed in the workplace.

High quality solutions

Quicker, better learning is only possible if the development process and the end product is really high quality. This requires a recognition of the learning pedagogies specific to the digital world, and the real potential of digital approaches to vocational learning. To achieve this potential, projects need to offer high quality, innovative solutions that are flexible and adaptable to future change. We expect our projects to include consultation and testing with users, providers, employers and learners - and to see their feedback incorporated into product development. This will also help increase the adoption of high quality digital tools as part of professional practice within the vocational education and training community.


Projects must have the potential to be sustainable and continue to have an impact after Ufi funding has ended. Projects need to show an understanding who the customers and users might be, why the project approach provides a good solution for the problem and how it will get to market. Projects need to offer cost effective learning solutions that can improve business efficiency. There need to be clear objectives for the project, that describe the outputs and outcomes the project aims to achieve.

Showcasing the art of the possible

VocTech Impact projects will provide practical examples to demonstrate to a wider audience how digital technology can help transform vocational learning, either in the workplace or helping adults into work through gaining job specific skills. This will help to support those who commission or purchase training by raising the visibility of the new technologies that are available and showing how new digital technology can help meet business needs.

How much funding is available?

Between £150k and £300k is available for projects of 18-24 months duration.  

The funding level and timescale are intended to encourage applicants with innovative projects able to deliver a significant volume of activity and level of impact which can demonstrate their wider applicability. 

The funding for any project is dependent upon the nature of the problem the project is seeking to address; and the nature and scale of the solution proposed. Each will be considered on its individual merits and the costs will be assessed against the proposed work plan and timetable. The total size of the budget for the call is confidential. Ufi's aim is to fund all good projects.  

What is VocTech Impact looking for?

  • Large scale, near to market innovations which demonstrate how the use of digital tech can deliver adult vocational learning at significant scale. We will want to know how the project will produce tangible benefits to learners and employers and the number of learners who will benefit throughout the duration of the project.
  • Projects that solve practical learning problems. Project proposals must clearly describe clearly the learning problem they plan address, evidence that a solution is needed and who the customers and users will be.
  • Projects where the applicants are thinking differently about how to use digital approaches to deliver effective vocational learning at scale; and how to make use of technology for genuinely novel approaches to learning. Projects may be innovative in their overall approach, their technology, or the industry sector or community of learners being targeted.
  • 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.
  • Projects which provide working examples of vocational learning innovations to show learners and employers how the idea works in practice.
  • Projects that clearly explain how Ufi support will make something happen that could not otherwise happen, make it happen more quickly or at a greater scale.

What will VocTech Impact Fund?

  • Work on the design and development of novel approaches to digital vocational learning; to help take those ideas from proof-of-concept to large scale tests and trails, or initial role out to a limited audience as the first stage of a larger programme.

  • Projects working with users throughout the process to co-design and test solutions, so that problems are properly understood from the user perspective and new learning tools are designed and developed in ways that really work for learners and employers/providers.

  • Projects seeking to extend an existing approach to a new market, industry or community of learners; or to develop innovative technology to significantly advance an existing learning approach.  (Note that these must show real innovation and a step change beyond normal business/product development to justify Ufi funding.) 

  • 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.

  • Projects aiming to achieving real change in how learning for work happens, with the courage to do things differently and take risk.  Ufi aims to share the risk inherent in innovative approaches.  Ufi’s project management processes are designed to be agile and flexible to adapt to changing circumstances. 

Projects must:

  • Provide an innovative digital solution to a defined issue for vocational learning
  • Offer a high quality digital learning tool, which makes full use of the potential of technology to provide new approaches to learning for work
  • Have a well-developed, tested proposal which is ready to be rolled out to a significant number of vocational learners
  • Include realistic plans for ongoing testing with relevant users/learners and to be incorporating feedback from testing into product development. 
  • Have access to a population of learners who will develop new vocational skills during the project duration 
  • Have a clear vision and ambition for the further growth of the project and its potential to be scaled up to impact on more learners and change how UK vocational learning happens
  • Be able to show how the project can provide a cost effective and efficient learning solution and meet business needs 

What kinds of organisations can apply?

For the VocTech Impact call, Ufi is looking for projects which will impact on large numbers of learners, with the potential for further roll out to an even greater number. We therefore anticipate working with larger, more established organisations, including charities, trade bodies and existing learning providers and others in the private sector.   

Applicants may benefit from working in collaboration with employers or other learning providers to make sure that the idea is addressing a recognised learning need, and to provide a route for early stage testing with learners.  We are flexible about how collaborative projects are structured but expect to see this clearly reflected in the project management arrangements and for all partners to be active project participants. If a project is a collaboration, please note that Ufi will only enter into a funding agreement with a single lead applicant who will be responsible for project management and any  supplier or collaboration agreements which may need to be put in place. 

Whenever Ufi funds an organisation which is not a charity, it has a legal obligation to ensure that any private benefit that arises is not more than is necessary to deliver the public benefit that is the stated purpose of the project.  (See the additional explanation below)  

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. 

If your organisation is not a charity. 

Ufi is involved in funding 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 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. 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. 

Please read the FAQs  if you have further questions about what Ufi will fund. 

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

Tips for applicants 


  • Our five year funding strategy, 'Learning Without Walls
  • 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.


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. 


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:

  • June 13th -Swansea 
  • June 21st - Liverpool
  • June 26th - London

Register for a webinar with our Chief Executive. There will be webinars for prospective applicants on:


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