Nesta (charity)

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Formation1998 (21 years ago)
HeadquartersVictoria Embankment
London, EC4
United Kingdom

Nesta (formerly NESTA, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) is an innovation foundation based in the UK.

The organisation acts through a combination of programmes, investment, policy and research, and the formation of partnerships to promote innovation across a broad range of sectors.

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.

The charity is registered in England and Wales with charity no. 1144091 and in Scotland with no. SC042833.


The old NESTA was set up in 1998 by an independent endowment in the United Kingdom established by an Act of Parliament.

On 14 October 2010 the Government announced that it would transfer NESTA's previous status from an executive non-departmental public body to a new charitable body.

On 1 April 2012 the old NESTA transitioned from being an executive to a charitable body, shortening its name to "Nesta".[1]


Nesta currently operates in the following areas:

Economic growth[edit]

Nesta's Policy and Research team publish regular research papers on how innovation can boost economic growth.

In 2012 it published Plan I,[2] an innovation manifesto for the UK, and the Innovation Index[3] figures, which showed that there had been a £24bn drop in innovation funding in the last decade.

Previously it published The Vital 6 Percent[4] and Mass Localism.[5]


in 2012 the charity launched a £25 million impact investment fund, Nesta Impact Investments, run by its subsidiary Nesta Investment Management. Other investors include Big Society Capital and the Omidyar Network. The fund invests in social ventures with innovative products or services that address the following three challenges: an ageing population, the employability of young people, and the sustainability of UK communities.[6]

Public services[edit]

Nesta runs practical programmes to find innovative ways of delivering cheaper, more efficient public services, and demonstrating how these can be scaled up across the UK.

Previous examples of work include the Innovation in Giving fund, in partnership with the Cabinet Office, which seeks to find and support new platforms for the giving of time, skills and money. They also ran an education programme,[7] looking at how children can be taught to become digital makers, and how the education system can benefit from digital technology.

In the past they ran The Big Green Challenge,[8] a £1 million prize fund to stimulate community action on climate change.

In 2012 Nesta published a report criticising the use of technology in schools. The report highlighted areas where new technology could be usefully employed. It argued that digital technology was often purchased, costing £450 million per year, without demonstrable evidence it was improving education methods.[9]

Creative industries[edit]

Nesta also specialises in original research into the UK's creative industries, and runs practical programmes to help the sector.

In February 2011 Nesta produced Next Gen, in association with Ian Livingstone and Alex Hope, which helped start the debate about teaching UK schoolchildren to learn how to code. The report specifically called for ways to protect the future of the UK's video games and video effects industries by arguing for, among other things, the introduction of computer science teaching in schools.

It is runs the Digital R&D Fund, in partnership with Arts Council and the Arts and Humanites Research Council, and also runs the Creative Business Mentoring Network, which pairs mentees from creative companies with experienced business leaders.

Government innovation[edit]

Nesta runs several programs to help governments become more innovative. Its flagship initiative in this field, States of Change,[10] aims to bring together governments to share experiences about how to implement new ideas. It has created several toolkits to foster skills to help public servants innovate.


Sir John Gieve chairs the organisation. Geoff Mulgan is the organization's CEO.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Scott Buckler (3 April 2012). "Nesta becomes an independent charity". Gov Today. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  2. ^ Plan I
  3. ^ "Nesta report shows £24bn collapse in innovation investment and a more deep-rooted crisis". Nesta. 16 June 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  4. ^ "Publications". Nesta. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  5. ^ "Publications". Nesta. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  6. ^ Andrew Holt (23 October 2012). "Nesta launches £25m impact investment fund". Charity Times. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  7. ^ "Decoding Learning". Nesta. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  8. ^ "Big Green Challenge". Nesta. Archived from the original on 20 November 2009. Retrieved 3 April 2015. The Big Green Challenge is NESTA's £1million challenge prize designed to stimulate and support community-led responses to climate change. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ a b Caroline Donnelly (16 November 2012). "Nesta blasts UK schools for "wasted" technology investments". IT Pro. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  10. ^ "States of Change | Nesta". Retrieved 9 April 2018.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′59″N 0°06′31″W / 51.516525°N 0.108623°W / 51.516525; -0.108623