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Nesta (formerly NESTA, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) is a British foundation, registered as a charity, which supports innovation.
In 2021, Nesta announced their 10-year strategy that sees them focusing their efforts on three core missions: A Fairer Start, A Healthy Life, and A Sustainable Future.
Nesta was originally funded by a £250 million endowment from the UK National Lottery. The endowment is managed through a trust, and Nesta uses the interest from the trust to meet its charitable objects and to fund and support its projects.
NESTA was set up in 1998 by an independent endowment established by an Act of Parliament, the National Lottery Act 1998. It had been a Labour Party manifesto promise. Lord Puttnam was the first Chair. In 2002 it was awarded £95 million.
In April 2012, following the appointment of Chief Executive Geoff Mulgan, the body became an independent charity, shortening its name to Nesta. With this change, Nesta shifted its focus to innovation for public benefit.
Following the arrival of Nesta's new Chief Executive Ravi Gurumurthy in December 2019, Nesta announced their new 10-year strategy in March 2021 which focuses on three core missions: sustainability, health inequalities and the education attainment gap.
Following Nesta’s new 2030 strategy, Nesta primarily operates in the following three areas:
- A Sustainable Future: Nesta’s programmatic focus is on reducing household emissions by 28 per cent versus 2019 levels, helping to ensure the UK is on track to reach zero by 2048. They will also explore how to improve the UK’s productivity levels.
- A Healthy Life: Nesta is focusing on increasing long-term health whilst narrowing health inequalities. In order to halve the UK’s obesity rate by 2030, Nesta is primarily focusing on tackling food environments. Their secondary focus is expanding the evidence bank on the link between loneliness and ill health.
- A Fairer Start: Nesta is focusing on improving outcomes for low-income children. Nesta aims that, by 2030, the UK will have eliminated the school readiness gap between those born into deprivation and their peers, with similar gains at age 16 among students receiving free school meals.
Alongside Nesta's social innovation missions, the charity also runs several specialist enterprises that they have incubated:
- Nesta Challenges. runs challenge prizes, which are competitions that offer a reward for the first or best solution to a social problem.
- Innovation Growth Lab. An initiative led by Nesta in collaboration with government partners, working globally to promote experimentation and ensure that innovation and growth policy is informed by new ideas and robust evidence.
- People Powered Results. An enterprise that focuses on place-based and people-focused approaches to achieving system change. They work with local and national organisations and people to create the conditions and cultures required to rapidly adopt new innovations and scale what works.
- Nesta Data Analytics. A multidisciplinary team of developers, data scientists, visualisers, user researchers and ethicists exploring innovative and responsible applications of these methods to achieve social impact.
- Centre for Collective Intelligence Design. An integrative team that uses novel data, digital technologies such as AI, and participatory methods to engage diverse groups of people in new ways. The Centre helps organisations use these approaches to generate new insights, create innovative solutions and make more inclusive decisions.
- National Lottery Act 1998 Section 16 and Schedule 4
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- The Public Bodies (Abolition of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) Order 2012
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