The Young Foundation and The National Lottery Heritage Fund are working together to pilot a new funding initiative, supporting organisations to explore, test and grow ideas to shape the future of the heritage workforce. 

Through a combination of financial support, expert advice, and collaboration, the Heritage Innovation Fund will help organisations nurture experimental new ideas and solutions to challenges around how we work, who is part of the heritage workforce, and what skills are needed to meet the future demands and ambitions for the UK’s diverse heritage sites. 

The initiative is intended to involve three phases: 

  • Explore: defining the problem and developing potential solutions. 
  • Test: putting promising prototypes into practice and gathering evidence of what works. 
  • Grow: implementing findings more widely within organisations and across the sector. 

Applications are now open for the Explore phase, with grants of up to £25,000 for organisations that are committed to innovation, prepared to learn and experiment, and willing to share their failures, as well as their successes. Eligible organisations may be not-for-profit or public sector, local authorities, or private owners of heritage. The grants are expected to cover time and exploration activities for six months. 

Alexandra Roberts, Head of Innovation and New Business at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, says: 

“In our recent UK Heritage Pulse survey, support to innovate and test new approaches emerged as one of the top four priorities for action. This pilot initiative is just one of the ways we are responding to this identified need. It is an important part of our wider commitment to working alongside practitioners from across the UK and all parts of heritage to explore the ideas, solutions and technologies that could effectively support heritage in the future.” 

The Young Foundation will deliver the Heritage Innovation Fund, providing expert advice and helping participants develop their innovation skills through group and one-to-one sessions. 

The Young Foundation’s Chief Executive, Helen Goulden, says:  

“Through recent challenges – from the pandemic to other national and global crises – heritage sites have proved vital for people’s health and wellbeing, and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to those working to protect such spaces, supporting jobs and tourism as they do so. But the time is ripe to make progress on some of the stubborn and persistent workforce challenges, to ensure the heritage workforce is fully fit for the future. 

The Young Foundation has a long and proud history of supporting UK communities, people and organisations to innovate and take actions on the issues they care about. We know that the heritage sector can innovate, and the pandemic has shown us just how swiftly radical change can happen. We are delighted to support the Heritage Innovation Fund to provide the support, structure and collaborative learning environment for heritage organisations who want to experiment and learn to build new ways of working in a changed and changing world. And excited to see what emerges over the course of the fund and beyond.” 

Learn more about the Heritage Innovation Fund at a webinar at 11am on 21 July, and take part in workshops to hone your idea on either 4 August, 24 August, or 13 September. The application deadline is midday on Tuesday 27 September. Find out more by reading the Heritage Innovation Fund application guidance. 

Environment Health & wellbeing Health and Wellbeing Innovation and Investment heritage innovation investment workshops Posted on: 5 July 2022


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