Deadline: 13 February 2020
The Ufi Charitable Trust is accepting applications for its VocTech Specialist Program 2020.
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Ufi is a UK based charity. It aims to improve UK productivity by making innovative use of digital technology to increase the skills of the UK workforce. Its projects are all intended to demonstrate how digital approaches can bring more learning to more people, more of the time in order to improve the workforce skills available to UK businesses and organisations, and improve outcomes for individuals by enhancing their workplace skills.
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.
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Ufi supports the development of digital technologies that helps all obtain the vocational skills they need to get more out of their working lives. They 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 their funding to catalyse change in attitude, focus and investment in VocTech in the UK.
What is the Purpose of VocTech Seed?
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- Ufi encourage ideas which have the potential to transform how vocational learning happens, rooted in a real-world understanding of the problems, issues and opportunities in the vocational sector. Projects will need to show how the idea is novel – show Ufi that you understand the market you are looking at and why this is better than anything that has been thought of before.
- Ufi can support ideas for new tech, new markets, new communities of learners and they are happy to welcome new project teams. The emphasis here is on the ‘new’. VocTech Seed has been designed to support innovation and they are ok with risk. This is about sharing that risk in order to encourage the development of new digital vocational learning tools, enabling organisations to test new ideas and work out the next steps necessary to plan a route to market and long-term success.
- Funding is to support for the development of early stage ideas, small scale testing, proof of concept work and the development of strategies to scale once Ufi funding has ended.
Ufi are particularly keen to support projects focused on areas, sectors or communities where the existing vocational learning system fails to adequately address vocational learning needs and where digital technology could make a difference. This might include:
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- Areas where geography makes it harder to access learning;
- Sectors where industry structure, low productivity/low margins etc makes it difficult for employers to provide training;
- Communities of learners who (for social, economic or other reasons) have not engaged with traditional learning approaches earlier in their lives and might be better engaged by new approaches.
Between £15,000 to £50,000 is available for projects of between 3 and 12 months duration.
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What will VocTech Seed fund?
The design, development and early stage testing 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 and planning a route to market.
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- Focus on vocational learning in the UK (be aimed at adults (16+)
- Offer new learning tools, not just new learning content
- Show real innovation and risk to justify Ufi funding
- Show a clear understanding of the vocational learning market, have evidence of a defined learning need and describe how they expect the tech will improve outcomes for learners, in addition to the technical advances.
- Show real innovation and risk to achieve a step change beyond normal business development to justify Ufi funding.
- Have plans for testing with relevant learners/trainers/employers and for incorporating feedback from testing into product development.
- Show ambition and vision for how the project could get to market and be eventually scaled up to reach a large number of learners, if the proof of concept proves successful.
Ufi does not fund:
- Training places for individuals – they focus on the potential for long term impact for many.
- Standard ‘content’ projects, for example a project purely to address coding or entrepreneurship skills. If you are teaching a digital skill it isn’t enough to assume that this would be a project Ufi would fund. Ufi are interested in how the innovation in the approach, using digital tools, improves outcomes for learners
- Basic digital skills – using Office, getting online.
- Schools. Sometimes there are spill over benefits for 14 -16 yo, 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
- Research projects
- Degrees/degree level studies
- Projects for beneficiaries outside the UK
- Generic employability skills such as CV building or time management
- Enterprise or entrepreneurship
- The call 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 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.
- The majority of organisations fund are UK-based. They will consider applications from outside the UK if they can clearly demonstrate how they will address vocational learning challenges faced in the UK. They only fund projects that can demonstrate their impact in the UK.
- If applicants 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, Ufi need to make sure that their funding is not more than is necessary to deliver the project and is not replacing private funding.
The specific criteria for projects varies between funding calls and is set out in the guidelines for each call. However, there are general criteria which apply to all their projects:
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- Ufi only fund projects which support the digital delivery of adult vocational learning. This means learning associated with the skills and knowledge that people need for work. Projects must be for adult learners, which they define as over the age of 16 years.
- Projects must have the potential to reach large numbers of learners – they are looking for ideas that can make a real difference to how UK vocation learning happens and this can only occur if projects can scale up and be rolled out widely, providing quicker, better learning.
- Ufi are interested in 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.
- 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 specific challenges of developing learning for the digital world. Ufi expect their projects to include detailed consultation and testing with users – providers, employers and learners – and incorporate their feedback into product development.
How to Apply
Interested applicants can apply online via given website.
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For more information, visit https://www.ufi.co.uk/ufi-seed-guidelines