CareerTech Challenge Fund: Meet the innovators
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CareerTech Challenge Fund: Meet the innovators

Nesta, in partnership with the Department for Education, is supporting 11 organisations to develop digital solutions to improve adult learner motivation and career adaptability (the ability for an individual to cope with current and future changes to work) through online courses. Funded projects will provide upskilling and retraining for those at risk of losing their roles due to automation.

Meet the recipients of the CareerTech Challenge grants:

Digital Mums

Awarded £200,000

Digital Mums is a social media training company specialising in getting mums job-ready so they can create flexible careers that fit around family life. They believe that encouraging women to become lifelong learners is the route to reducing maternal unemployment and supporting women to find rewarding, flexible careers.

Funding will support the development, evaluation and scale-up of their project-based online learning course for mums currently in roles at risk of automation.

Wizenoze, in partnership with Cell-Ed

Awarded £225,000

Wizenoze was founded in 2013 to solve the challenge faced by learners of finding too much, inappropriate and/or irrelevant information by facilitating access to tailored education through developing industry-leading technologies. Learners can search and find content online that matches their needs and reading skills. For the CareerTech Challenge, Wizenoze has partnered with Cell-Ed, a Silicon Valley-based mobile-first learning company. Workers rapidly build essential life and job skills and earn credentials by completing Cell-Ed’s industry-specific micro-lessons on any mobile device through text and audio, no internet or apps needed. Live coaches provide personalised support to engage and encourage.

Funding will be used for Wizenoze and Cell-Ed to integrate as one universally accessible solution that upskills workers and delivers a world of learning that matches their needs and literacy level. This will enable workers to advance their careers and improve their livelihoods.

Coventry University Online

Awarded £248,003

Coventry University Online is a relatively new but already experienced provider of distance learning, delivering online courses at scale to global cohorts of degree students up to Master’s level. Coventry University Online is well versed in providing world-class and socially-orientated education flexibly, and understands the barriers that may exist for many adult learners.

Funding will support Coventry University Online, in partnership with FutureLearn and the Behavioural Insights Team, to develop and test a new student-centred digital skills course for adults below degree level, with a focus on the use of different digital tools to enhance learner motivation and improve student completion rates.


Awarded £241,000

MyKindaFuture has built and developed Connectr, an employee experience platform that ensures everyone feels a sense of belonging at each stage of their professional journey: from career inspiration, to first jobs and support once in a role. Through the platform, employees are matched with a peer mentor and provided with relevant learning content to help them progress. MyKindaFuture is seeking to test whether their combination of learning content and peer mentoring improves learner motivation and career adaptability.

Funding will support the development of machine learning to improve peer mentoring matching systems, and the digital design of learning content for employer partners.

The Open University

Awarded £240,000

The Open University is an expert in distance and online learning. Combining this with its industry and academic experience in cyber security education, this project will demystify cybersecurity, giving learners confidence to engage with the digital world and gain further skills to enhance their career options in the changing economy.

Funding will support the adaptation of the current OpenLearn course to a Gamified Intelligent Cyber Aptitude and Skills Training Course (GI-CAST). Alongside gamification, GI-CAST will use artificial intelligence and behaviour analytics to personalise learning to increase learner motivation.

Game Academy

Awarded £175,000

Every second person in the UK plays video games. Many of the most popular games demand complex problem solving, active learning and decision-making, and ask players to manage teams, resources and adversity. Game Academy enables gamers to acquire new skills and work through their game play and online content.

Funding will be used to build and implement an analysis and diagnosis of learners' game play and capabilities. It will gain an understanding of how analysis and diagnosis of a player's in-game talent can help signpost them to new learning opportunities; and how peer learning opportunities, rewards and role models can increase learner motivation.


Awarded £249,999

CENTURY is an award-winning AI education technology company, whose teachers, neuroscientists and technologists develop world-leading artificial intelligence tools for schools and colleges.

Funding will support CENTURY to pivot their existing product, which focuses on school-age learners, to provide a personalised learning journey for adults. CENTURY will focus on increasing learner motivation through the use of AI-powered personalised learning.

Saffron Interactive, in partnership with TUC unionlearn

Awarded £249,999

Saffron Interactive is passionate about developing learning which creates a sense of ownership over new behaviours, and new values for the learner. Regulated and accredited by the Learning and Performance Institute (LPI), Saffron Interactive has ranked in the top 15 Learning Technologies providers in LPI’s awards since their inception. For the CareerTech Challenge, Saffron Interactive will partner with unionlearn, the learning and skills organisation of the TUC.

Funding will be used to advance TUC’s Value My Skills tool, available to union members. Saffron Interactive will develop a chatbot and recommendation engine to create personalised paths for learners.

Agent Academy CIC

Awarded £150,000

Agent Academy is an award-winning, industry designed and delivered learning programme. The current programme is delivered to young people, aged between 18 and 25, who find themselves – post-higher education – without the skills to begin their careers in the digital, creative or tech industry. During a 12-week programme, they learn from digital and creative specialists with contributions from business leaders and experts. Alongside industry training, participants work on a real-life client brief, offering a practical approach to learning to ensure they are ready to hit the ground running and successfully kick-start their future careers.

Funding will support Agent Academy to expand their existing course to people over the age of 25 and without an existing degree throughout England. Agent Academy will design and develop unique personalised learning content, using 'real world' scenarios to increase employability of learners through automatically generated work portfolios that can be attached to the learner’s CV.

Sopra Steria, in partnership with ELATT

Awarded £249,999

Sopra Steria is a European leader in consulting, technology transformation and software development. Sopra Steria has partnered with ELATT, a London based adult learning provider, to co-develop an online workplace skills course, DigiLearn. DigiLearn will provide learners with the necessary soft and hard skills to succeed in the future world of work.

Funding will be used to support the development and user testing of digital interventions such as chatbots, adaptive learning pathways and gamification to find the most effective way to encourage learner motivation.

City of Glasgow College

Awarded £204,900

City of Glasgow College’s Citizen Literacy Taster is developing an existing prototype smartphone app to provide adaptive, personalised support and encouragement for adult learners taking their first steps in learning to read and write. The app reduces the stigma and anxiety these learners face by providing an independent learning solution based on the English ETF-endorsed phonics methodology for functional skills. It provides a bridge for developing confidence in learners to move on and approach their local learning providers to continue their journey.

Funding will support the project partners to create and develop an introductory adult literacy training course, featuring voice and handwriting recognition for learner input and an online tutor persona to guide the learners, providing verbal feedback. The app will feature the ability to work with regional accents.