National Lottery Heritage Fund launches ‘Heritage Innovation Fund’ pilot

The fund is hoped to provide heritage organisations with the opportunity to explore and test solutions to workforce diversification, volunteering and new technology.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has announced a new funding initiative which is hoped to support the future of the heritage workforce.

The pilot, named the Heritage Innovation Fund, is a combination of financial support, expert advice and collaboration.

It has been designed to enable organisations to investigate challenges in areas such as diversifying the workforce, developing volunteering opportunities or seizing advances in digital technologies.

It is intended to have three phases; ‘Explore’ will define the problem and develop potential solutions, ‘Test’ will put prototypes into practice and gather evidence of what works, and finally ‘Grow’ will implement the 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.

Alexandra Roberts, Head of Innovation & New Business explained that the fund is a result of Heritage Fund’s recent UK Heritage Pulse survey, which identified innovation and testing new approaches as a priority.

“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: “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 Heritage Fund is to run 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. Organisations will then have until Tuesday 27 September to apply.