We believe that innovation - the creation and adoption of new ideas - is the primary source of human progress. But too often innovation doesn’t back the things that really matter to people. Nesta wants to make innovation work for everyone.
Innovation also faces many barriers - such as the fear of failure, rigid institutions and individual disempowerment. Our work aims to counter these barriers: helping the pace of innovation keep up with the big challenges facing the UK and the world, like our ageing population, stretched public services, and a rapidly changing jobs market, and helping people become active agents in their own lives.
Nesta achieves impact directly through our practical programmes (exploring new ideas, testing what works, and applying innovation methods to critically important fields), and indirectly through the take up of new ideas and methods for innovation by others.
Our innovation methods
Our innovation methods are where Nesta’s core expertise lies, and underpin the work we do in different fields. Our methods are a combination of tools, technologies, funding structures, skills and techniques which help us and our partners address big challenges in new ways. We work hard to understand, codify and share methods for innovation - from accelerators to open innovation, design to experiments.
Nesta now incubates many units focused on deploying different innovation methods. For example, challenge prizes are one of a family of ‘open innovation’ methods that help organisations tap ideas and brains far beyond their own boundaries. Prizes specify a problem to be solved but incentivise solvers anywhere. Nesta tested and refined this method, worked with others in the field, codified it, and now, through our Challenge Prize Centre, provides partners all over the world with advisory and delivery services.
Our priority fields
We apply our innovation methods to big challenges in priority fields that matter to the future wellbeing of the public - where we see both significant challenges and opportunities for us to achieve impact.
Our priority fields and the challenges we want to help tackle are:
- Health - How do we help a health and care system under crisis from an ageing population living with more long-term conditions?
- Education - How do we prepare young people for future work in a more automated economy where the jobs of today will not be the jobs of tomorrow?
- Government innovation - Public services are at breaking point, stretched by spiralling demand, stagnant funding and citizens disillusioned by politics. How can the public sector deliver more, and engage their citizens, with less?
- Arts and the creative economy - How do we protect and grow a strong, sustainable creative economy and arts sector, given its economic and cultural value?
- Innovation policy - how do we create better conditions for innovative firms to thrive, increase productivity and create good jobs?