Ignite Partnership announces £500k to three new funded partners
Mission 44
22 Feb 2023

Ignite is supporting three new organisations, Gender Action, Bradford College and the Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers (AFBE-UK), to create more opportunities for young people from underserved communities to progress into STEM careers and motorsport.

Ignite announces three grants to boost diversity in STEM

Research shows that women and ethnic minorities are significantly underrepresented in STEM across the UK:

  • Women represent only 27% of the UK STEM workforce and only 10% of engineers

  • Black and mixed ethnic groups represent just 3% of UK engineers

  • Black engineers have higher unemployment rates than other engineers, being twice as likely to be unemployed 6 months after graduation

  • Only 9% of apprenticeships in engineering and manufacturing technologies are given to women and girls, and 2% by Black students

Ignite, launched by Sir Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team, was founded to improve diversity in STEM and motorsport. To date, Ignite has committed over £1.1m to fund initiatives supporting young people from underserved communities across the United Kingdom. Moving forward, Ignite will be embedded into Mission 44, to nurture and grow its mission. It will continue to benefit from ongoing collaboration between Mission 44 and Mercedes to drive greater diversity in the sport. This second wave of grants will support:

  • Gender Action to grow participation in its school-charter mark scheme: a whole school approach to promoting gender equity, supporting the participation, attainment and progression of women and girls in STEM subjects.

  • Bradford College, alongside Bradford City Council, The Leap and other regional partners, to a) raise awareness of motorsport STEM career opportunities, b) work with employers to increase the available apprenticeships; and c) provide financial bursaries and wraparound support.

  • AFBE-UK to scale the organisation’s work and expand its ‘Making Engineering Hot’ programme to new regions. They aim to increase the number of ethnic minority young people pursuing careers in engineering motorsport careers.

“We know that for young people from underserved communities to progress in STEM and motorsport, we need to provide more opportunities now. That’s why I am delighted to announce a second wave of grants from Ignite that will drive impact, contribute to long-term change, and provide young people with the chance to thrive.”

CEO, Mission 44

“In 2021, the Ignite Partnership started out on a mission to create a more diverse sport. Thanks to the diligence of the Ignite team, I’m confident that this significant investment in selected partners will make a real difference for young people from underserved communities and bring sustainable improvement in the diversity of our sport. As Ignite now moves under the umbrella of Mission 44, I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in establishing this important venture. We look forward to working together to continue to drive greater diversity in our sport.”

Chief People Officer, Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team

“With this new funding from Ignite, Gender Action hopes to reach hundreds more schools and aspires to reach more than 60,000 students. We’ve learned from decades of research from across the organisations that founded Gender Action, that trying to challenge individual issues in individual subjects doesn’t have a sustainable effect which is why we are championing a whole of school approach” – Georgina Phillips, Gender Action Steering Group Member

“At Bradford College, we share a passion for transforming lives. This collaboration will help reduce barriers facing learners from our communities and display to them that there are jobs and careers in these spaces for them. We hope to increase the number of underserved young people into STEM motorsport careers and provide a springboard to support young people in taking their talents beyond what they may have ever imagined.” – Chris Webb, Chief Executive Officer, Bradford College

“We’re delighted to be part of the Ignite partnership. We hope we can build upon the successes we’ve had, scale them up in new contexts and show the many opportunities that exist, especially in motorsports for young people. We can’t wait to get started.” – Ollie Folayan, Co-founder of AFBE-UK


Founded by Sir Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team and now embedded into Mission 44, Ignite exists to increase diversity and inclusion within motorsport. With a focus on improving representation in STEM roles, Ignite aims to create and strengthen pathways to and within UK motorsport for people from underrepresented and disadvantaged groups through interventions across education and careers.


Gender Action is a school-charter mark scheme that supports schools with training, resources, and peer support to develop and implement a whole school approach to gender equity and support the participation, attainment and progression of women and girls in STEM subjects. The programme was founded by the Institute of Physics, King’s College London, UCL Institute of education and University Council of Modern Languages. The Development Education Centre South Yorkshire (DECSY), established in 1984 that brings nearly 40 years’ experience working with schools and teachers to effect lasting change, are now administrating the programme.

Get Involved: If you’re a teacher or school you can register to participate at genderaction.co.uk


Bradford College is a statutory corporation created under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. Bradford College is one of the biggest education and training providers in the region with students studying their A Levels, T Levels, vocational qualifications, community courses, apprenticeships, degrees and masters. The courses are careers focused, with the aim of giving students a head start into the industry they aspire to work in.

Get Involved: If you’re a motorsport employer, you can express your interest in providing an apprenticeship opportunity by contacting ignite@bradfordcollege.ac.uk


AFBE-UK was established in 2007 as a community initiative following the UK Business and Enterprise Committee and the Royal Academy of Engineering’s published reports about shortage of engineering skills in the workforce and in particular the under-representation of people from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds. AFBE-UK aims to promote greater achievements in education and engineering through their programmes which are led by senior engineering professionals. AFBE-UK’s mission is to showcase the technical talent available within the Black and Minority Ethnic community and support the growth of the wider community.

Get Involved: If you’re a STEM professional and interested in supporting young people through mentorship opportunities, contact AFBE-UK at afbe.org.uk/Contact-us