Bright Ideas Research Fund
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Please note that this call has now closed. The closing date was 12 noon on Friday the 24th of October 2014, successful applicants to the call will have been contacted by now. We may have future calls (subject to funding constraints) more information on this will follow on this page. If you would like to find out who has been funded to date through this grants programme, please see the document on the right hand side of this page.

In the Policy and Research team at Nesta we like to fund new ideas and different approaches. But we know that we don’t have the capacity to put in place a major programme in every interesting area of research.

We’ve set up the Nesta Policy and Research Bright Ideas Research Fund to provide small grants to develop interesting research projects and policy proposals in fields that relate to innovation but where we do not have big programmes already in place.

We hope that the fund will lead to interesting insights in its own right, and perhaps in due course to some larger research projects.

Who should apply?

We welcome applications from a wide range of people and organisations, including:

  • think tanks
  • academics
  • journalists
  • charities
  • businesses

What we are looking to fund

In short, we are looking to fund good new ideas relating to innovation and innovation policy. This could include the development of a new idea about how innovation happens, a pamphlet making an interesting and compelling argument relating to innovation, an examination of a new innovation or technology, or a worked-up, evidenced proposal for a policy related to innovation.

Projects can involve primary research, novel argumentation, or the development of a new idea, or ideally more than one of these things. They should be carefully and rigorously carried out, and should stand up to scrutiny. The end product should be written in an accessible style, suitable for a non-specialist reader.

Types of project we are interested in funding

  • arguing for and designing a novel policy that relates to innovation in one of our areas of interest
  • research into an aspect of innovation policy (this could be quantitative or qualitative academic research, or more journalistic research into an emerging field)
  • research into a trend in how innovation happens (this could be quantitative or qualitative academic research, or more journalistic research into an emerging field)

Fields that we are particularly interested in

Below is a list of some of the things that we are currently working on to give you an idea of what themes we are interested in (although this list is not exhaustive):

  • understanding the innovative businesses that matter
  • what do emerging technologies mean for the economy and society
  • how can we get a financial system better suited to innovation
  • developing an innovation policy for the arts
  • Datavores ie data analytics changing the way we do business
  • better government policy for innovation – data, experiments, judgment
  • better government policy based on evidence and experiments
  • new trends in innovation from around the world
  • collective intelligence
  • how to encourage new ideas and experimentation in social innovation
  • scaling up social innovation
  • big and open data for social innovation
  • collaborative economy
  • smarter smart cities
  • accelerators

What we are not looking to fund

There are a few things that we will not fund through the Bright Ideas Research Fund:

  • Evaluations of your organisations own innovation or programme.
  • Capital or material costs e.g. the purchase of a laptop to help you carry out the research.
  • The running of practical activities or day to day running of a programme, business or social enterprise.
  • Development or instigation of a business plan.
  • Product development.
  • Fund-raising events.
  • Activities that are normally the responsibility of government.
  • Conferences, group travel, honoraria for speakers.

What we offer and budget information

We will only fund up to £10,000 per proposal. We would not expect to fund any additional charges beyond the £10,000. Full economic costing is not required; we will assess each application on a case by case basis for overall value for money. 

This will be grant funding – we will not own the IP to the work, although, as a charity, Nesta has an interest in widely disseminating the findings from research and projects it supports for public benefit and therefore Nesta may publish and republish findings for this purpose. Please note that VAT is not payable on grants.