Wednesday, 17 August 2022
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Wednesday, 17 August 2022

National Lottery Heritage Fund launches pilot funding initiative to champion innovation

THE National Lottery Heritage Fund is launching a new funding initiative which will give pioneering organisations the freedom to be ambitious in their thinking and help shape the future of the heritage workforce. 

The Heritage Innovation Fund will give groups the power to be more experimental, creative and try new ways of working to meet the future demands and ambitions for the UK’s diverse heritage.

Through a combination of financial support, expert advice and collaboration, the Heritage Innovation Fund will help organisations to explore, test, and grow ideas to meet the challenges faced by the sector.

Alexandra Roberts, our Head of Innovation & New Business, said:

“This is a timely moment to be launching the Heritage Innovation Fund. The act of looking forward is a powerful one, particularly when we have been through such turbulent times. 

“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 National Lottery Heritage Fund is partnering with The Young Foundation to deliver the Heritage Innovation Fund. The Foundation will provide expert advice and help develop participants’ innovation skills through a series of group and one-to-one sessions.

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

“Through recent challenges – from the pandemic to other national and global crises – heritage sites have proved vital for people’s health and wellbeing. 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 action 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 we’re excited to see what emerges over the course of the fund and beyond.” 

The initiative will help enable organisations to investigate the challenges they have in areas such as diversifying the workforce, developing volunteering opportunities or making the most of advances in digital technologies. It is intended to have 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.

The Heritage Fund is currently accepting applications for the Explore phase with grants of up to £25,000 available to cover organisations’ time and exploration activities for six months. 

The pilot is open to not-for-profit and public sector organisations, local authorities, as well as private owners of heritage. 

The Heritage Fund will be running a series of online events across July and August to help organisations understand the aims of the programme and if the grants are right for them. The events are:

Organisations will then have until Tuesday 27 September to apply.

More info can be found at Heritage Innovation Fund.

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