Archive Testbed Fund

About the Archive Testbed Fund

The archives sector employs a wide range of skilled and experienced people who have the capacity and talent to formulate new and innovative ideas for projects, systems, processes, and methods that, if developed, could have a transformative impact on the work of archives in the UK.

The Archives Testbed funding scheme provides grants of up to £5,000 (and up to £10,000 in round 6) for archives who would like to test, explore, or evolve a new idea that has the potential to lead to positive change or improvement to the way we keep, preserve, promote and enable access to archives. The purpose of the fund is to encourage services to trial new approaches, provide them with room to experiment even if the initiative might ultimately fail, and enable the results and learning outcomes of our support to be shared with the wider archive sector.

Please feel free to contact us at candi@nationalarchives.gov.uk to discuss your Archive Testbed idea.

Additional funding until 30 March 2021

To further support the sector at this time, The National Archives is pleased to be able to allocate additional funding to the Collaborate and Innovate programme for this financial year. This means the Collaborate and Innovate programme will be able to award £65,000 in Archive Testbed grants and £60,000 in Networks for Change grants before 30th March 2021.

We are therefore looking to fund £22,000 of testbed grants in rounds 4, 5 and 6, and we are seeking applications for grants of £1,000 - £10,000.  The objective of the fund remains to fund innovative testbed projects which 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.

Over rounds 2 and 3, the Archive Testbed Fund was also pleased to award an additional £60,000 to projects that focused on digital engagement. This additional funding was made available as part of our Plugged In Powered Up strategy to build digital capacity across the sector.

Themed rounds

Find out about themed rounds, which are designed to encourage thinking around certain identified challenges in the sector.

How to apply

Learn more about the eligibility criteria, the reasons to apply and how to do so.

Deadlines and key dates

Find out about the scheme's deadlines and decision timelines.

Assessment process

The assessment for funding is focused on establishing whether the idea described by the applicant is innovative, has a robust testing proposal, and could have a significant impact on the archive service and wider sector.

Frequently asked questions

Find answers to common queries about the Archives Testbed Fund

Current projects

Read about the projects that were awarded Archive Testbed grants in 2019 and 2020.