PONToon – Partnership Opportunities using New Technology fOstering sOcial iNclusion

EU ERDF Specific Objective

4.1 – Improve the collective ability of stakeholders to enhance social inclusion and increase economic revitalisation in urban and rural areas 

This Interreg Va project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

Summary description of PONToon

PONToon builds upon strands of two previous INTERREG IVA sibling projects: BRIDGE (Building Research and Innovation Deals for the Green Economy) and FLAX: Increasing it’s value for society, including elements of the INTERREG IMPRESS Project. How are we going beyond BRIDGE? How is this capitalising on BRIDGE? PONToon will focus upon previously successful results and practical outcomes, highlighted in the previous projects, taking them in a new direction, which builds upon the green and digital agenda for youth and generational job creation. The project aims to advance practical solutions and long-term UK French collaborations by developing partnerships between education, business development agencies and social groups for the emergence of community led initiatives to enhance and support future employment and sustain the development of cross-border areas of excellence using disappearing making skills and local materials, underpinned by the digital such as games, technology, 3D/VR technology, social media, web/mobile technologies, broadcast and digital sound.

The consortium can offer an ideal skills toolbox underpinned by the digital economy such as pervasive technologies which are known to increasingly influence society, business, healthcare and security, to meet the cross-border requirements that will be an economic imperative for the future. Communication of research, public engagement and dissemination of the project will be a key component to measure impact, achieved through the organization of bi-national events, to target a various audiences and the general public through the use of online film, mixed media, networks and exhibitions. The initial focus will be young people and we aim to promote the project inside schools, further education institutes and youth and community groups, including sports and community arts.

The project will bring diverse partners together with a focused goal of using digital technology and technical capability to address trans-national issues of social inclusion in disenfranchised rural and urban communities. PONToon will do this by a series of interventions responding to national and local issues designed to support social inclusion, utilizing digital technologies.

Our consortium consists of higher education, NGOs and business organisations working to alleviate social deprivation, supported with specialist digital experts who will deliver a comprehensive range of solutions.


The Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries at the University of Portsmouth will lead a new project that will improve the employment rates of women from disadvantaged backgrounds by developing a range of digital tools and technologies that will be used to tackle the digital skills shortage that currently exists in the UK and France.

The project, known as PONToon (Partnership Opportunities using New Technologies fostering sOcial and ecOnomic inclusion), will target socially excluded women who are far removed from the labour market and who may face challenges such as single parenthood and mental health issues.

PONToon will focus on developing several digital tools that will help upskill women by improving their digital competencies and providing them with the necessary digital skills to access the labour market. The various tools will include virtual reality interviews, webinars and bespoke computer game experiences, where the game scenarios aim to engage and train users on basic and advanced ICT skills, social media usage and other
digital skills. These novel forms of training are often found to be more engaging and e􀃗ective than traditional methods and will help socially excluded women gain the relevant employability skills needed to support their economic inclusion.

The tools will be co-created and developed by women who currently do not have access to digital technology. Through developing the tools they will learn additional skills on idea development, data creation and project management. The toolkit will then be shared with service providers, job centres and local authorities enabling them to offer a more engaging and complete training offer to women. Over the 3-and-a-half year lifetime of the project, the tools developed by PONToon will help train 1600 women with the aim of 400 participants returning to work as a direct result of this training.

Commenting on the project’s approval Professor Joan Farrer, Associate Dean (Enterprise & Innovation) from the University of Portsmouth said: “Our world today is becoming increasingly reliant on digital technology. For a lot of disadvantaged women there is a lack of training available to help them understand and use this technology.

“By using cross-border expertise, this project will provide engaging ways of teaching women how to use this technology.This will mean that what may seem like small tasks, such as writing a CV or using Google maps to find an interview become easier. These skills will play an important role in helping these women find a job.”

Plymouth Mind is very proud to be one of the recipients of this funding, which will have a significant impact in our local communities.

PONToon will allow us to utilize advancements in the digital economy to support social cohesion and pilot new methods of learning and training. It will offer job creation, utilize heritage and demographic needs, and provide sustainable interventions which will bring communities closer together.