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Who should apply?

The EdTech Innovation Fund grants will support:

  • Improvement - developing 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

Eligibility Criteria

In order for your application to be considered, your product must satisfy our eligibility criteria.

The eligibility criteria are:

  • Your product will be delivered in England in primary and/or secondary schools and colleges. This varies for each of the challenge areas, so please check the specific fund application pages.
  • Your product uses digital technology to support one of four challenge areas (as defined in these eligibility and selection criteria and FAQs)
  • Your product is ready to be, or has already been, used in schools or colleges in England
  • Your application must be submitted in the name of a corporate body which may include schools, charities or private companies. We do not consider applications from individuals.

Selection Criteria

We are looking for innovative products that:

  • Use digital tools to support one of four challenge areas (see below for more detail on each challenge area):
    • Formative assessment
    • Essay marking
    • Parental engagement
    • Timetabling
  • Are already being used in, or are ready to be delivered in, schools or colleges in England. This includes being able to be implemented in schools without excessive cost or resources.
  • Are committed to evaluating their impact and using evidence to develop their product, and will use at least a part of the funding to do this.
  • Can commit to involvement in non-financial support that Nesta and/or other partners will provide. More detail will be available to shortlisted applicants.
  • Can demonstrate how this funding would support further testing and delivery and can add value to your product or organisation that would be difficult to achieve without Nesta support.
  • Can explain sound ideas for how the project could be sustainably grown in the future, and how delivery can be replicated across schools/locations.
  • Can work collaboratively with schools and parents to ensure their intervention is implemented effectively, e.g they provide training to teachers on the intervention and how the digital technology works.
  • Have a lead already in place, who is supported by a competent management team or board, who are open to challenge and support.
  • Are committed to meeting a high standard of digital security, protecting young people from access to online harms and GDPR-compliant data protection.

We are open to applications from the UK and internationally as long as funding is used to deliver a product in England.

We are also particularly interested in certain tools and products in each challenge area, specifically:

Formative assessment

  • Support with all elements of the formative assessment process, including planning, teaching, assessing, evaluating, giving feedback and storing information;
  • Help reduce teacher workload through saving time on preparing, marking, analysing in-class assessments or feedback;
  • Support student learning and improve student outcomes through high quality feedback;
  • Are easy to implement in schools and are not overly resource intensive, including support for teachers through CPD;
  • Tools which are aligned to any area of the curriculum and can clearly demonstrate their alignment to established curricula and programmes of study;
  • Tools which can link their approach to established good practice in teaching and learning, to research on teaching practice, or clear user-needs.

Essay marking

  • Use artificial intelligence technology to analyse essay text, pattern recognition to decipher handwriting or machine learning algorithms for effective marking;
  • Have been successful at analysing text in other contexts that could be applied to essay marking in schools;
  • Help reduce teacher workload through saving time on marking essays in schools or colleges;
  • Can improve the accuracy, reliability or help to reduce or minimise bias through marking;
  • Are easy to implement in schools and are not overly resource intensive;
  • Use insights from other sectors (e.g. higher education, recruitment) and are interested in applying the technology in the school and college sector.
  • Are marketable and can show a demand from schools for the product.

Parental engagement

  • Use digital tools that can be used on multiple devices to improve the quality of parental engagement;
  • Help improve opportunities to engage with parents at secondary schools and colleges, particularly parents whose working hours or responsibilities make it difficult for them to take part in school engagement;
  • Help improve opportunities to engage with parents who have low literacy or English as an Additional Language;
  • Aid parent’s understanding of their child’s progress and activities at school, and support them to help with their child’s learning at home;
  • Aid bilateral communication between parents and teachers, without increasing teacher workload;
  • Save teachers’ time and reduce email traffic to teachers by making parental engagement more efficient;
  • Are easy to implement in schools and for parents and are not overly resource intensive;
  • Are marketable and can show demand from schools and parents.


  • Use digital technology to support efficiencies and effectiveness in the overall timetabling process, resulting in timetables which promote learner needs and balance teacher requirements including flexible working patterns;
  • Can take account of the wider teaching workforce context within individual schools;
  • Help improve opportunities for flexible working through smarter timetabling tools;
  • Bring efficiencies to school leaders and those responsible for developing the school timetable;
  • Integrate with other school data management systems;
  • Are easy to implement in schools and are not overly resource intensive;
  • Are marketable and can show a demand from schools for the product.