VocTech Seed: Guidelines

Information to help your application succeed

VocTech Seed 2019 call is open for applications from 15 January to 08 February (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 detailed FAQs to understand what we are looking for and to guide your application.

You can attend a workshop or join a webinar to hear more and ask questions  - sign up on our Events page. You can also 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.

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 you to complete a short form outlining details of your organisation, your project and the funding requested. Applications are assessed on how well the project fits with Ufi’s overall mission and the specific objectives of the funding call.
  • 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.

Dates and deadlines

  • The deadline for submission of Stage 1 applications is 17:00 on 8 February 2019.
  • We do not accept late applications. If you experience technical problems while completing or submitting your application, you must tell us as soon as possible via info@ufi.co.uk.
  • Stage 1 applicants will be advised in early March 2019 whether they have been successful. Successful applicants will be invited to proceed to Stage 2 which opens on 11 March 2019.
  • The deadline for submission of Stage 2 applications is 17:00 on 5 April 2019.
  • Ufi’s Board of Trustees will reach final decisions on funding by 31 May 2019.

If you are successful, you will be allocated a Project Account Manager to work with you to deliver a Project Initiation Document (PID), which 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 Account 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: improving UK skills through digital vocational learning

This call will support projects with innovative ideas for solving real, practical problems in UK vocational learning.

Changing how vocational learning happens

Ufi believes that digital technology should play a greater role in enabling adults to get the skills needed for work in the 21st century. Our aim is to see digital tech being used to significantly improve how UK vocational learning is developed and delivered; and to ‘scale up’ this effect to make learning for work better, more accessible and more affordable.

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

High-quality solutions

Quicker, better learning is only possible if the development process and the end-product are really high quality. This requires a recognition of the learning pedagogies specific to the digital world, and the specific challenges of developing digital learning. We expect our projects to include consultation and testing with users – providers, employers and learners - and to see how their feedback has been incorporated into product development.

Creating sustainable change

The VocTech Seed fund helps create a pipeline of new learning solutions by supporting innovative and creative projects at an early stage of development, enabling new ideas to reach a point where they can demonstrate their potential to customers or funders and reach the market. 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 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.

We believe this is the right level 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 proposed solution. Each is considered on its merits and the costs assessed against the proposed work plan and timetable.


What is VocTech Seed looking for?

  • Projects that solve clearly identifiable, practical learning problems. Project proposals must describe the problem they aim to address, explain who the customers and users will be, why the project approach provides the best solution to the problem and how it will produce tangible benefits to learners and employers.
  • Projects where the applicants are thinking differently about how to use technology to deliver effective vocational learning at scale. Projects must be genuinely innovative in their overall approach, their technology, or the sector or community of learners to which they will be applied.
  • 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.
  • VocTech Seed funding is aimed at projects at an earlier stage and smaller in scope than other Ufi funding rounds. We expect them still to show ambition and vision for how the project can subsequently get to market and scale up to reach large numbers of learners.
  • We are particular keen to see projects with innovative solutions to improving provision for sectors, industries and communities of learners that currently lack good access to vocational learning due to issues such as market or industry conditions, cost, time, distance, language or other factors.


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.
  • Projects looking 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. (These must show real innovation to achieve a step change beyond normal business development to justify Ufi funding.)
  • Projects with a clear understanding of the vocational learning market, evidence of a defined learning need and clear view for how learning will be delivered, in addition to the proposed technical advances. We expect projects to have realistic plans for user testing and incorporating feedback into product development.
  • Ambitious projects which show the potential to scale up to reach large numbers of learners, with a vision of their route to market and outline plan for reaching their target users and customers. This includes being clear about who will buy the product as well as who the learners will be.
  • Projects that 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.
  • VocTech Seed is open to proposals addressing all industries, geographies, and digital delivery approaches (within normal parameters).


VocTech Seed is NOT currently looking for:

  • Solutions for brokerage or matching employees (including apprentices) with employers or training opportunities for employment or work experience.
  • Learning management systems – although we are keen to see projects aimed at increasing the aggregation and interoperability of technology to improve learning delivery.
  • Digital skills learning specifically, including coding skills, unless the delivery mechanism is exceptionally innovative and radical.


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 users and 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 is 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.

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 also 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. Projects must always explain clearly why they need Ufi funding to support their project and how Ufi’s charitable funding will make a difference. 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.


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

Help for applicants 



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. 


Please review our general FAQs which should answer most of your questions. Specific FAQs from the 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