About Collaborate and Innovate

The Collaborate and Innovate funding programme consists of two funding schemes: the Archive Testbed Fund and the Networks for Change Fund. Both schemes support a drive towards innovative practice, the development of new ideas, and collaborative approaches to problem solving.

Archive Testbed Fund

The Archive Testbed Fund provides micro-grants of up to £5,000 to archives who want to test, explore, pilot or evolve an innovative new idea that may lead to positive change and improvement for the individual archive and the wider sector.

Networks for Change Fund

The Networks for Change Fund provides grants of up to £15,000. Grants are awarded to groups of archives wanting to:

  • develop a new archives network or partnership.
  • strengthen an existing network or partnership in order to develop into robust and sustainable bodies able to collaborate effectively and deliver shared interest projects.
  • undertake a development project within an existing network, leading to positive change for the archives, the network and the wider archive sector.

Aims of Collaborate and Innovate

  1. To empower archives to use creativity and innovation to develop ideas and solutions, especially for the key themes of digital capacity, impact and resilience.
  2. To enable grantees to undertake pilot projects which might not ‘succeed’ in the traditional fashion and to share the learning outcomes of all projects funded.
  3. To increase resilience, efficiencies and collaboration through the development of strong archive service networks.
  4. To help archives build fundraising skills and confidence through the application process.
  5. To manage the fund in an objective and transparent manner.

Outcomes of Collaborate and Innovate

  1. Innovative, creative approaches will be piloted and tested.
  2. The learning outcomes of pilot projects will be made freely accessible to the entire archive sector.
  3. New networks will be created where they are most needed and beneficial to the sector.
  4. Existing networks will be strengthened, developing robust and sustainable bodies capable of delivering shared interest projects.
  5. Archivists and sector professionals will have the confidence to advocate for innovative projects and secure new funding to further support such projects.


We can currently only award grants to archives in England. We are actively seeking additional funding for this programme, which will enable us to award grants throughout the United Kingdom in the same way as our Archives Revealed programme. For more information about eligibility, please see the ‘how to apply’ pages of the Archives Testbed and Networks for Change funds.

Additional funding awarded

For some rounds, we have been able to award more funding than usual. For the 2020-21 financial year, we increased the programme’s funding to further support the sector during the pandemic. This meant that Collaborate and Innovate was able to award £65,000 in Archive Testbed grants and £60,000 in Networks for Change grants before 30 March 2021. Before this, over rounds 2 and 3, the Archive Testbed Fund awarded £60,000 more than usual to projects that focused on digital engagement. This funding was made available as part of our Plugged In Powered Up strategy to build digital capacity across the sector.


Please see our FAQs for answers to the most popular questions about the Collaborate and Innovate programme.