Funding opportunities for designers this winter

As another lockdown begins and an uncertain winter looms, we’ve rounded up recent opportunities available for designers to look into now.

NHSX – AI in Healthcare Award

Who? NHSX is the National Health Service’s technology arm, which seeks to implement digital and data-driven solutions in healthcare.

What? This is the second round of funding being made available for its AI in Health Care Award. This latest round is particularly interested in products that are at phases three or four, meaning they are ready to support the first real-world tests in health and social care settings, or which need to generate early clinical safety and efficacy data. A range of areas in healthcare are projected to benefit from AI – from imaging and screening, to triage services and operational automation.

How much? In this second round of funding, awards are uncapped and given per product typically for 12-36 months. The total amount set aside for the three years in £140 million.

Apply: Accelerated Access Collaborative website.

UKRI, Museums Association – Digital Innovation and Engagement Fund

Who? UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is a public body of the government that directs R&D funding, while the Museums Association is a professional membership organisation working in the heritage and cultural sectors.

What? The two organisations are teaming up with creative design consultancy The Liminal Space to launch a new fund to support museums in starting, scaling up or evaluating innovations made in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The idea is to shape “a new cultural future”, according to UKRI had of public engagement Tom Saunders, and a special focus is being placed on engaging under-represented people and communities. A series of workshops will also be offered to complement funding.

How much? Grants of up to £50,000 will be awarded.

Apply: Museums Association website, more information from 11 November.

British Council – Digital Collaboration Fund

Who? The British Council is an organisation that specialises in international cultural opportunities.

What? The council is offering up grants for creatives looking to undertake internationally collaborative projects. The focus is on digital grants, and is an attempt to restart projects that were put on pause because of the pandemic, and begin new ones. Virtual conferences, exhibitions, online cultural archives and digital games have all been named as example ideas by the council, which is hoping that the scheme will help usher in a new wave of “sustainable” collaboration that doesn’t rely on air travel.

How much? Two levels of funding are up for grabs: 12 grants worth between £10,000 and £20,000, and 15 grants worth between £40,000 and £50,000.

Apply: The British Council website.

Department for Transport – Accessibility-Technology Research and Innovation Grants

Who? The DfT is the government department responsible for overseeing the UK’s transport network.

What? As part of the DfT’s Inclusive Transport Strategy, the department is looking to transport solutions which remove barriers currently faced by people with additional needs. The grant programme is looking to fund at least three companies’ projects, which could significantly improve “access to services and confidence in travelling”. This could include projects that make it easier to access information, automate processes, or better support travellers and co-design in these fields is strongly encouraged. Projects looking for funding will need to have already been lab tested, ready for further development.

How much? Funding of up to £120,000 will be available for at least three companies.

Apply: Connected Places Catapult website.

Paul Hamlyn Foundation – Arts-based Learning Fund

Who? The Paul Hamlyn Foundation is an independent grant-making organisation which seeks to support people overcoming disadvantage, with a history of funding arts projects.

What? The Arts-based Learning Fund was developed to support pupils in formal education settings engage with the arts. It’s open to organisations that wish to engage with students in their particular field of creativity. The end result of this work could look like specific programmes to support a school’s needs or that is co-created with cultural organisations, for example. Funding is designed to be flexible, owing to the coronavirus pandemic and awards to organisations outside of London will be prioritised.

How much? Grants as high as £400,000 can be made, but most will be around £150,000 to £250,000 over two or three years.

Apply: The Paul Hamlyn Foundation website.

UKRI – Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge

Who? UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is a public body of the government that directs R&D funding.

What? The Smart Sustainable Packaging Challenge aims to establish the UK as a leading innovator in the consumer packaging field. Prospective applicants to the challenge must deliver on the UK Plastics Pact, which seeks: a more circular packaging value chain, improved communication techniques to increase recycling rates and more consistent data on supply chains. Projects can either be a redesign of existing goods or an entirely new product. Suggested themes include reusable packaging, packaging tracking and plastic alternatives.

How much? The competition will award grants between £50,000 and £150,000 per project.

Apply: website.


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