The PONToon applied research project is moving into its final phase in 2020. Following two years of English and French partnership and app development, research and community engagement, the partners will be focusing on completing numerous deliverables including ensuring the future sustainability of the project.

PONToon (Partnership Opportunities using New Technologies fostering sOcial and ecOnomic inclusioN) was devised by Principal Investigator Professor Joan Farrer from CCI and began in June 2017 with a budget of €5.8 million euros. Approximately €1.5 million euros was allocated to the University of Portsmouth who is the lead partner; 69% grant funded by the European Regional Development Fund with 31% UoP partner contribution.

Social and economic inclusion and equality are at the heart of this European research and innovation project that uses a range of new technologies to support and up-skill the women in our target group aged 18 to 35. UoP has been using 3D/virtual reality technology, web/mobile apps and social media to engage the women and improve their access to equal training and better employment opportunities. The eleven partners from the South of England and Northern France have been actively engaging women and service providers from their local communities in PONToon.

Train Station Image

In 2019, the University of Portsmouth released the trial PONToon Digital Toolkit, containing a range of tools to improve the women’s digital skills in order to enhance employment opportunities. The Digital Toolkit was developed by the partnership, through needs, testing and feedback which consists of an innovative recruitment website prototype, Career Guide mobile application, Skills articles and a VR game designed to help users familiarise themselves with the process of using public transport in this case, taking a train. Stakeholders and our women are invited to trial these apps on

The toolkit was also tested at the PONToon festival in August 2019. The event was enhanced by a series of workshops focusing on personal and professional development for a range of female attendees. The workshops focussed on employability skills including CV writing and interview skills, entrepreneurship, and digital skills such as photography, videography and blogging. 

The University of Portsmouth PONToon project team and ambassadors will deliver a second series of workshops to women in the local community such as the Community Day Rehab, Solent Recovery and the Cross Cultural Women’s Group. These events, and those of the partnership, will lead into the sustainability of the research and ensure 3 years of knowledge is passed onto other service providers. The PONToon Digital Toolkit and all information such as video diaries and e-books generated during the project will be open source to be adopted by relevant users. In addition, social enterprises in France and the UK will be established for hundreds of women to gain work experience in both countries. To follow the project’s progress during its last year, please subscribe to the newsletter on