Nesta, the innovation foundation, and the Department for Education have today launched a call out to Edtech companies as the first step of their £4.6 million funding programme to stimulate industry innovation, support the development of edtech products, and build the evidence base to ensure that technology meets the needs of teachers, lecturers, pupils and students.

Digital technology has transformed almost every sector, but until now education has lagged behind with little coordination or systematic testing of what works in practice. Schools are facing considerable challenges and the partnership between Nesta and DfE aims to test and scale Edtech products, both new and existing, that could have the biggest impact.

The EdTech Innovation Fund will see 20 Edtech organisations receive up to £100,000 to improve, evaluate and grow the reach of digital tools across four challenge areas:-

  • Formative assessment
  • Essay marking
  • Parental engagement
  • Timetabling

Technology has the potential to make a real difference to these challenges, significantly reducing teacher workload, improving teaching and ultimately improving student outcomes.

Nesta is open to applications from the UK and internationally as long as funding is used to deliver a product in England. The financial support will last for a period of up to 18 months and grantees will have access to non-financial support relevant to their individual needs provided by Nesta.

Organisations are invited to apply until 9am 15th July 2019, with more information available on Nesta’s website.

Grants will support with:-

-Improvement - improving and testing early-stage products that want to grow their reach and impact

-Implementation - supporting products to expand their reach to more schools, colleges and students

-Evidence - supporting organisations to build the evidence base for what works in the four challenge areas

The second stage of the programme, the Edtech Innovation Testbed will invite participating schools and colleges to match with EdTech products aligned to their needs. Through the testbed project, each school or college will have the chance to trial technology for free and be closely supported to evaluate its impact, helping Nesta to share lessons learned for products, schools and colleges more widely with the sector. More information on this will be released on the Nesta website soon.

Joysy John, Director of Education, Nesta said:

“Nesta has a long history of supporting technology in education through investments, research and policy. Our recent report, Educ-AI-tion Rebooted, showed the potential for new digital technologies to transform our education system. We also know that existing technology could have a positive impact on some of the key challenges in the education sector.

“By working in partnership with the Department for Education we hope to have a greater impact on the education system and the EdTech sector. We aim to improve teaching and learning, bring more efficiencies to schools and colleges, save teacher time, and ultimately improve student outcomes.”

Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Chris Skidmore, said:

“We launched the EdTech Strategy earlier this year to make sure the education sector is able to take full advantage of all the opportunities technology can offer.

“In partnership with Nesta, we are investing £4.6million in helping the sector make the most of those opportunities and I would like EdTech companies to step forward with bold, innovative proposals that will make a real difference to the lives of students and teachers.”

The fund and testbed are part of the Department for Education’s broader Education Technology Strategy, Realising the potential of technology in education, launched in April 2019.


For more information contact Juliet Grant in Nesta’s press office on 020 7438 2668 or 07866 949047, [email protected] or [email protected]

Notes to editors:

About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society. We've spent over 20 years working out the best ways to make change happen through research and experimenting, and we've applied that to our work in innovation policy, health, education, government innovation and the creative economy and arts. Nesta is based in the UK and supported by a financial endowment. We work with partners around the globe to bring bold ideas to life to change the world for good.