Grants of between £100,000 and £250,000 are available for innovative tech solutions that can build career adaptability skills and / or motivation to learn for people who are most vulnerable to workforce changes.

Those in roles most susceptible to change often lack the access to support and opportunities for further learning.

Solutions must be delivered within existing online learning courses and be relevant and impactful for the target beneficiary group.

The innovative tech solutions we are seeking to support will need to be delivered within the context of an existing (or adapted) online course of 15-50 hours that builds core skills such as communication, numeracy or digital skills. This means people involved will be able to build a sense of agency to navigate the changing job market, at the same time as improving on skills employers are looking for.

Innovative tech solutions to build career adaptability skills and / or learner motivation could involve:

  • Personalisation of content and delivery to improve interest, engagement and relevance
  • Increasing attainability of learning and opportunity to achieve
  • Making learning fun or rewarding
  • Increasing the choice and agency of participants to explore as they learn
  • Enabling opportunities for self-reflection and relevance of learning
  • Pairing or grouping so learning is supportive and social

The tech solution doesn’t have to be completely new to the world, but it does need to be a breakthrough for this sector and / or to the target beneficiary group. This is particularly important given the current lack of online learning opportunities for people in lower skilled roles with fewer qualifications.

We actively welcome partnerships for this Fund, given the requirement for digital solutions to be embedded within existing online courses that build core skills.

In addition to to £250,000 equity-free grant funding, successful applicants will receive support to test their approach, design with target audiences in mind, refine their business model and connect with investors and potential buyers.

Target beneficiaries

For this Fund, innovative tech solutions to build career adaptability skills and / or motivation to learn must be targeted to people who are most vulnerable to workforce changes. Target beneficiaries are:

  • Located in England;
  • Working in roles most susceptible to change due to automation;
  • Employed, self-employed or working part time in England;
  • Aged 24-65 years old;
  • Without a qualification at degree level;
  • Earning below £35,000 per annum

Key dates

  • 16th Oct 2019: fund launch
  • 9th Dec 2019: applications close
  • 20th Jan 2020: shortlisted candidates informed
  • 2nd March 2020: final funding decisions made


Applicants need to meet the following criteria in order to be eligible to apply:

  • Must be a UK registered company/charity. If you are not, then you need to apply with a lead partner who is a UK registered company/charity.
  • Need to allocate budget for a programme evaluation and will be completed within the timescales of the fund.
  • Must have in place the ability to deliver the innovative tech solution within an online learning offer that involves 15-50 hours of learning.
  • Learning must be delivered wholly or predominantly online.
  • Solutions must be suitable for beneficiaries in England.

We are unable to support:

  • Applications from individuals, employees of Nesta, other individuals or organisations working on the Fund, and their immediate families,
  • Solutions that are not likely to be of public benefit. We cannot support ideas that are solely or predominantly for the personal or private financial benefit of an individual or organisation.
  • Solutions that are likely to increase inequality or exclusion, or otherwise have a harmful or detrimental effect on individuals (such as through the unethical use of private data).

Applying and selection process:

Apply to the CareerTech Challenge Fund by 2pm 9th December 2019.

We will use five assessment criteria applications:

  1. Innovation (how new / novel your solution is for this market/ audience) - 35%
  2. Impact (what difference the solution might make for learners) - 20%
  3. Capacity (how well placed the team is to deliver in time & budget) - 20%
  4. Target beneficiaries (who will benefit from this solution during Fund) - 12.5%
  5. Sustainability (the potential for solution to continue beyond the Fund) -12.5%

Shortlisted applicants will be informed in January 2020 and will need to attend a development day in London on Thursday 30th January 2020 and selection day in February 2020, also in London.

Successful applicants will be informed in late February 2020.

Apply to the CareerTech Challenge Fund

Submit your application now

CareerTech Challenge

Are there any other requirements?

  • If your application is shortlisted, you must be available to attend the development day on 30th January and selection day in February 2020, both in London.
  • You must keep accurate records of spending, comply with monitoring requirements and inform Nesta of any changes to your plan.
  • You must be committed to attending Nesta workshops, identified public events and follow-up about your initiative up to three years after the fund.
  • You must inform Nesta of any conflict of interest.

Learning more about the fund

To join a forum to connect with potential partners, please email [email protected].