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Incubator Discovery Grants

Impacts and News

Impacts and News

Impacts and News

Incubator Discovery Grants are funds of up to £300 for educators who want to understand a teaching and learning challenge and test possible solutions within their faculty. We will award up to five Incubator Discovery Grants in each faculty. Awards will be made in conjunction with Faculty Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor Education.

An Incubator Discovery Grant will enable you to gather a diverse group of people to explore an educational challenge together. You might host discussions between students, academics, or professional service colleagues, and/or people connected to the university. Through your grant activities you might build a team who would like to explore the challenge with you. 

The grant could be used to pay for catering, off campus room hire, and/or vouchers given to students' or those not employed by the university in recognition of their time.

The IncubatorDiscovery Grant must be used to complete two of three possible templates: Empathy Map/s, a Systems Map, or Prototype Evaluation. These templates are tried, and tested tools used widely in Design Thinking to explore problems and gather diverse experiences.

The output of your Discovery Grant will be completed templates and a short reflection on them to be submitted to the Education Incubator and your faculty’s Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor Education.

These three Design Thinking templates are tools that will support you and your team as you plan your activities to explore the identified problem.

Empathy Map 

Empathy Maps are used to build an understanding of ‘user’ needs at the definition stage of a project. It is likely that in our context the ‘users’ are students, but they also may be colleagues. The map enables us to empathisewith the feelings, behaviours, and needs of the people whose experiences we want to improve. 

As a workshop activity, creating an Empathy Map means bringing together one or more groups of people - academics, students, professional staff, senior managers - to explore and set out motivations and needs.

Systems Map 

‌A systems map is a visualisation tool to help identify the component parts and their interactions in the complex system in which your ‘problem’ occurs. As you work within the system it is likely you have a really clear understanding from your own perspective. It is important to gather people together with diverse perspectives in order to gain a fuller representation of the system.

This is an exploratory and research activity that can be delivered as a workshop that will help visualise the patterns in the system, the relationships, and perspectives of the people you are innovating for, and to see the gaps and areas for growth and change to potentially re-design the system. 

Proto-Typing Evaluation

Testing one or more potential ideas as a prototype enables you to get quick feedback from users before deciding on a final solution. We are used to thinking of prototypes as low resolution things but they can also be storyboards or role plays - or indeed any method for enabling your users to understand how you think an idea would work in practice. They can then give feedback.

The Incubator Discovery Grants could act as seed funding. Once you have tested your idea and disseminated outcomes through your Discovery Grant project, you may wish to apply for our Project Grants <link to Project Grans page> to develop your discovery further.

What this fund looks for?

To be successful your application will have:

  • An identified problem within an area of teaching and learning (within your Faculty)

  • A clear plan using two of the templates to explore and contribute to exploring a problem and/ or enhance existing practices

  • Completed delivery of activities by end of January 2022

What project teams receive?

  • Funding to pay for identify costs to deliver activities within the plan e.g. focus groups,

  • Support from the Education Incubator team to process funds and help structure activities

Selection Criteria: 

  • Potential to impact a teaching and learning problem and education practice

  • Potential to impact student learning and engagement

  • Collaborative and Innovative approach

How to apply: 

Applications received should clearly set out:

  • What activities you will deliver with an identified timeframe

  • Which two design thinking approaches you will use as part of your activities and why

  • What anticipated outcomes that will be created

You can apply by completing the online Application Form

Application dates:

  • Closing date for applications: Friday 4th November 2022

Applications will go to the relevant Faculty panel for review and applicants will be informed of the outcome within a week of the closing date.


To learn more about these grants, or if you have any questions about our funding opportunities, please email the Incubator on