As Nesta begins preparing for the next round of the Digital Makers open call for funding (more details to come this summer), I think we can learn a lot from reviewing and evaluating our previous efforts.
Nesta announced the first grantees of the Digital Makers Fund in May. It's very exciting to be working with such a great bunch of organisations to support more young people to become digital makers. As they deliver and scale their projects over the coming year, each grantee will be evaluating their impact and sharing what they're learning along the way. Expect a noisy and insightful year from the Digital Makers grantees, like this recent blog by Technology Will Save Us.
Taking a cue from our grantees, we've also taken the time to evaluate and reflect on the open call process. That's why we've decided to publish a review of the first Digital Makers open call. Click the link to the right to download it.
Inside this review, you'll find a snapshot of the digital maker community who engaged with the open call and reflections on the process itself. We hope it will provide some general feedback to applicants while also giving the wider community a taste of what's happening around digital making.
Supporting young digital makers is a relatively new and rapidly changing market which makes it ripe with opportunity. Understanding what's going on and where you fit within the current landscape is therefore invaluable. A good knowledge of the market also tended to help applicants develop a unique offer that went beyond simply disseminating or aggregating existing resources and tools.
Reviewing the first open call has definitely reinforced my belief that people across the UK are doing great things to encourage young people to become digital makers. But we're still a ways off from ensuring every young person can access a full range of opportunities from a variety of players. While far from a perfect measure, over 40 per cent of applicants did come from London and the South East. Equally, applicants were a rather diverse range of group, but we did see a lot of new companies come forward.
Finally, if we want to see digital making opportunities become more widely available, we can't underestimate the importance of infrastructure and kit. A number of applications sought support to cover capital costs - particularly for schools and smaller organisations. While outside of the open call's remit, I greatly appreciate that procuring appropriate tools and resources is a fundamental challenge faced by many projects that wish to deliver digital making activities.
If you have any thoughts or feedback on the process, please email the education team at [email protected].