Nesta (charity)

Coordinates: 51°30′59″N 0°06′31″W / 51.5165°N 0.1086°W / 51.5165; -0.1086
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Formation1998; 25 years ago (1998)
HeadquartersVictoria Embankment
London, EC4
United Kingdom Edit this at Wikidata

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.[1] It had been a Labour Party manifesto promise.[2] Lord Puttnam was the first Chair.[3] In 2002 it was awarded £95 million.[3]

In October 2010, the government announced that it would transfer NESTA's status from an executive non-departmental public body to a new charitable body.[4]

In April 2012, following the appointment of Chief Executive Geoff Mulgan, the body became an independent charity, shortening its name to Nesta.[5][6] With this change, Nesta shifted its focus to innovation for public benefit.

In 2016, Nesta received a $300,000 grant from the Global Innovation Fund to carry out research on market failures in aquaculture in Bangladesh and India.[7]

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.[8]


Nesta and the Nesta Trust are registered as charities in England and Wales,[9][10] and Nesta is registered in Scotland.[11]

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.


Sir John Gieve chairs the organisation. Ravi Gurumurthy is the organisation's Chief Executive.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Lottery Act 1998 Section 16 and Schedule 4
  2. ^ Gibbons, Fiachra (1 July 1999). "Arts and science 'damp squib'". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  3. ^ a b Curtis, Polly (11 November 2002). "£95m boost to UK innovation". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  4. ^ Curtis, Polly (14 October 2010). "Quango review sees five major bodies becoming charities". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  5. ^ Scott Buckler (3 April 2012). "Nesta becomes an independent charity". Gov Today. Archived from the original on 6 January 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  6. ^ The Public Bodies (Abolition of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) Order 2012
  7. ^ "Nesta". Global Innovation Fund. Retrieved 20 October 2023.
  8. ^ Hargrave, Russell (2 March 2021). "Nesta unveils new ten-year strategy". Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  9. ^ "NESTA, registered charity no. 1144091". Charity Commission for England and Wales.
  10. ^ "The NESTA Trust, registered charity no. 1144683". Charity Commission for England and Wales.
  11. ^ "NESTA, Registered Charity no. SC042833". Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
  12. ^ Kantaria, Priya (6 August 2019). "Ravi Gurumurthy to join Nesta as chief executive". Retrieved 17 January 2022.

External links[edit]

51°30′59″N 0°06′31″W / 51.5165°N 0.1086°W / 51.5165; -0.1086