A North-East immersive technology company and a Manchester-based STEM education provider are accelerating plans to build a diverse talent pipeline that supports the UK’s journey to net zero.
Fuzzy Logic Studio and The Blair Project have worked together for the last nine months to develop and release ProtoEV NxtGen – a gamified Augmented Reality app targeted at underrepresented youth aged 11-19. The free-to-play platform teaches users how to convert virtual petrol go-karts into fully electric virtual e-karts, educating them about battery technologies, power train systems, data analytics, renewable energy, and computer-aided manufacturing. In-app billboards then connect high-quality talent to apprenticeships, internship opportunities, industry placements, and career advice.
The first iteration of the iOS and Android app received funding from the Driving the Electric Revolution challenge, delivered by Innovate UK for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). Alongside 15 other projects, ProtoEV NxtGen will support the UK’s push towards a net zero carbon economy and contribute to the development of clean technology supply chains, worth £80 billion in gross domestic product by 2050.
As a Black-owned social enterprise, The Blair Project is eager to see a new wave of diverse talent entering and progressing through career pathways pivotal to the country leading the charge in areas such as automotive electrification, hydrogen, and low-carbon heating.
Nile Henry, Founder and CEO of The Blair Project, said: ”Three million young people studying in schools across England are from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds. Yet, according to the Royal Academy of Engineering, only 9% of UK professional engineers come from BAME backgrounds. Misconceptions about careers in engineering are a huge deterrent. For the UK to successfully close the existing and emerging skills gaps relating to net-zero technologies, we need to help underrepresented young people gain greater exposure to career pathways in STEM and raise their aspirations.
“This app marks a radical shift for our social enterprise as we seek to introduce cutting-edge digital technologies that grow an army of future innovators, technicians, engineers and ecopreneurs. ProtoEV NxtGen will enable all young people, regardless of age, ability or background, to tinker with new technologies, discover talents they never knew they had, learn industry-relevant skills, collaborate with others and progress into rewarding careers through the power of gaming.”
More than 312 schools are lined up to trial the app in the new academic year through a partnership with Planet Possibility. By 2026, The Blair Project wants to app to be available in 3,500 secondary schools across the UK. A second phase release is now in the planning stages. It will include the addition of valuable tools to help young people identify their talents, build a CV, and develop the future skills employers desire.
Harvey Trent, Director of Fuzzy Logic Studio, said: “Our collaboration with The Blair Project to date has resulted in the development of a truly immersive application that answers some of the biggest challenges facing the UK’s drive to net zero. We know that by effectively applying the principles of gamification to both the learning and recruitment environments, we can actively contribute to making career pathways in STEM more appealing and accessible to young people from diverse backgrounds.”