VocTech Now: Guidelines | Ufi VocTech Trust

VocTech Now: Guidelines

VocTech Now is open for applications 30 March - 6th April (5pm)

VocTech Now is part of Ufi’s response to support the vocational learning sector in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic. There is high demand for this fund so please check you are eligible before you apply.


Before you start


How to apply

Ufi uses an online application process. Once you have registered via the Ufi website and created a MyUfi 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: Beyond 2020), the specific criteria for the funding round and our detailed FAQs to understand what we are looking for and to guide your application.


Application process 

Applications are made through your MyUfi account.

To apply to VocTech Now, you must first to register on MyUfi and create an account – then you can complete your application, saving and returning to make any adaptations at any time while the funding round is open. If you have do not have a MyUfi account you can register for one here.

Evaluation of proposals 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 Senior Leadership Team.

The process requires you to complete a short form outlining details of your organisation, your project and the funding requested. You will need to provide us with information on how developed your idea is, including details about the learner needs that you are targeting. You should demonstrate how you are immediately ready to implement the VocTech solution’s ideas. Applications are assessed on how well the project fits with Ufi’s overall mission and the specific objectives of the funding call.

As part of your application, you will need to provide additional information on your organisation. You must be a registered charity, educational organisation or business – for this call we cannot fund individuals not already in established organisations. You will also need to provide evidence of a business bank account.

The deadline for submission of Stage 1 applications is  6th April 5pm. 

  • We do not accept late applications. If you experience technical problems you need to tell us as soon as possible via applicationqueries@ufi.co.uk
  • Applicants will be advised on 14 April 2020 whether or not they have been successful.
  • Successful applicants will be expected to commence work straight away. Please only apply if you are in a position to use the funding immediately.
  • We may open a second round of funding later, subject to the outcome of the first round.

What happens if I am 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 Plan.

You will be allocated a Project Account Manager to work with you to agree a Project Plan, which will closely follow the information set out in your application and any conditions of approval. This sets out how the project will be delivered and the dates on which the grant will be paid.

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.

To find out more about our Ufi Ventures investment fund, please visit our Ventures page.  


Ufi vision

To create a world where vocational skills are celebrated and valued by all as the engine upon which the UK economy is built and where development of those skills is made possible by the best technology solutions, providing easier access, greater opportunity and better outcomes for all. 


Our mission

Ufi supports the development of digital technologies that help us all obtain the vocational skills we need to get more out of our working lives. We do this by: 

  • Providing funding, expertise and commitment to innovators in vocational technology (VocTech). 
  • Building an active VocTech community of educators, developers, designers, employers, investors and policy makers – sparking discussion and debate amongst them. 
  • Using our funding to catalyse change in attitude, focus and investment in VocTech in the UK. 


What is the purpose of VocTech Now?

VocTech Now is a targeted grant call to accelerate the use of VocTech tools to enable those in work or training to continue to engage with their vocational learning programmes during this period of travel disruption.

These are small grants of between £10k and £25k to support vocational learning providers to rapidly transition to remote teaching and training and deliver accessible learning at a time of significant change.


VocTech Now Funding Criteria

We are looking to support vocational training providers who need to move to digital delivery methods in order to keep their learners engaged, as existing face to face delivery models are restricted as a result of Covid-19.

VocTech Now is a very targeted solution to address immediate barriers being faced by vocational learning providers in supporting users and by learners in continuing with their programmes with the closure of most training facilities.

We are looking for applications from vocational learning providers who

  • need to transition to digital delivery methods
  • have a reasonably well-developed idea about how digital tools can solve the problems they have accessing learners, as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions
  • can deliver to a significant number of learners through an existing route to market
  • can implement their ideas immediately and show real results for their learners quickly

VocTech Now is for projects that can be deployed quickly with direct positive effects for learners who would otherwise not be able to access learning, so that

  • more adults to access the skills they need for work and professional updating in this new environment of travel restriction.
  • the professional practice of learning providers develops so that they can continue supporting their students and move more practitioners into a ‘digital first’ or blended way of working after Ufi funding ends.

In order to achieve this, projects MUST build from a strong base already, both in understanding of the target learners, route to market and having some level of understanding of the current VocTech market or groundwork already in place.

What kinds of projects are we looking for?

We will support projects with realistic ideas that can be developed and implemented in order to show real results for their learners quickly

It is also an opportunity for people to innovate and to adopt VocTech as a long-term part of their working practices.

We are particularly interested in applications from organisations delivering vocational training to key workers / key sectors.

Please remember that Ufi’s mission is in vocational learning, particularly ensuring that the most disadvantaged in our society have access to learning. Applicants that propose non-vocational ideas (for example well-being, general support for mental or physical health) are unlikely to be successful.


How much funding is available?

VocTech Now provides grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 for projects lasting up to 3 months.

The funding offered for any individual project depends on the problem being addressed, and the nature and scale of the proposed solution. Each is considered on its merits.

What can the grant be used for?

Ufi funding can be used to fund the staff time, contractors, suppliers and resources need to take the idea to a position where it can operate, and continue to scale, when Ufi funding ends.

Funding can be used for:

  • The adoption or implementation of existing VocTech tools and techniques e.g. Learning Management Systems (LMS) – our normal calls focus on the development of new ideas. This call is about immediate take-up of solutions that are available in the market.
  • Costs associated with transforming content to be suitable for digital delivery
  • Access to expert advice to design, develop and deliver high quality digital learning
  • An appropriate level of equipment purchase, with a strong justification for the need for the capital spend
  • Work virtually with users and / or customers to co-design and test solutions at scale
  • A limited element of business development and strategies for sustainability
  • Project management and reporting to Ufi, including evaluation and evidencing benefit


How will the grant be paid?

Given the short duration of projects, there will be an upfront payment of one third of the grant, one third payment at the midpoint, subject to satisfactory progress, and one third on completion.

On completion of the project you will need to provide certified timesheets, receipts and evidence of all spending. Any projects requiring capital equipment purchases may be asked to depreciate the assets over a longer period than the project and claim only a portion of the costs.

Successful applicants will be expected to commence work straight away. Please only apply if you are in a position to use the funding immediately.

VocTech Now projects must:

  • Focus on adult vocational learning in the UK (be aimed at adults (16+))
  • Support the delivery of vocational learning that has been disrupted or impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions.
  • Benefit a significant number of learners – Projects should ideally benefit over 100 learners during the funding period and have a clear vision for the further growth after Ufi funding.
  • Provide a digital solution to a defined issue for vocational learning caused by the Covid-19 restrictions.
  • Offer new accessible tools for learners, not just new learning content. Projects must tell us how they plan to procure a high quality digital learning solution for the first time.
  • Have a clear and realistic route to market – VocTech Now projects must have access to a population of learners so that they are able to begin delivery immediately.
  • Be able to start immediately - Successful applicants will be expected to commence work straight away. Please only apply if you are in a position to use the funding immediately.
  • Clearly show why Ufi support is needed – Explain why this investment in digital learning could not otherwise happen in your organisation.
  • Be committed to Ufi’s mission – Projects must help Ufi demonstrate and evidence the value of digital approaches to vocational learning more widely and participate in Ufi communications and engagement activities.


VocTech Now will not fund:

  • The acquisition of training places for individuals – we focus on the potential for long term impact for many.
  • The acquisition of kit as a standalone project – although for rapid deployment we recognise that VocTech Now projects may have to acquire capital equipment to deploy the tech.
  • Schools. Sometimes there are spill over benefits for 14 -16 you, but this must not be the focus of the project.
  • Routine business or product development where there is no public benefit case for charitable funding.
  • Pure research projects.
  • Degrees / degree level studies.
  • Projects without UK beneficiaries.
  • Please remember that Ufi’s mission is in vocational learning. Applicants that propose non-vocational ideas (for example well-being, general support for mental or physical health, enterprise / entrepreneurship, generic employability skills) are unlikely to be successful.


What kinds of organisations can apply?

Ufi is looking for projects which will impact immediately on existing learners, with the potential for further roll out to an even greater number. We therefore anticipate working with established organisations, including employers, colleges and other existing learning providers, charities and trade bodies.

On this occasion, we cannot fund applicants if not already a business/charity due to the immediate need to implement.

Applicants may benefit from working in collaboration. We are flexible about the structure of collaborative projects but expect to see this clearly described in project management arrangements and for all partners to be active project participants. Where 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 funds 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 community of learners has been defined, the total size of the group the project could reach how the proposed approach will benefit those learners. We also need to make sure that our funding provides no more than is necessary to deliver the project and does not replace private funding. The questions we ask in our application forms are designed to help us understand how your proposal can have a beneficial public outcome, both immediately and in the longer term.


Help for applicants 

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

If you experience technical problems you need to tell us as soon as possible via applicationqueries@ufi.co.uk



What else is Ufi doing to help the vocational learning sector?

We are delivering a series of ‘how to’ guides to assist in the adoption of VocTech and share good practice from our current projects and expert team. Details on our Resources page. To keepin contact and find our about other funding opportunities sign up for the Ufi newsletter.