Announcing the Everyone Makes Innovation Policy programme grantees

We asked you for creative ways to involve the public in developing innovation policy, and you responded, with storytelling, art, digital approaches and immersive experiences. You came to us with a diverse range of policy issues that you wanted to engage the public on, ranging from driverless cars to data sharing, genetic engineering to local industrial development plans.

These are just some of the highlights from the response to our call for ideas for creative approaches to engaging the public in discussions about innovation policy. Forty-nine organisations applied to the fund, confirming to us that there is no shortage of great ideas out there. After reviewing the applications, we chose the five ideas below. 

At Nesta we strongly believe that people outside of the science, innovation and business community should have a much greater say in how innovation policy develops. We also believe that policymakers, and those seeking to influence innovation policy, need to be much more experimental in the methods that they use to engage the public. Over the next eight months, we’re looking forward to supporting these projects, sharing what we learn, and engaging broadly with those who are working on or interested in public engagement in innovation policy. 

Five experiments in creative public engagement

Here are the five projects that we have funded:

1. 10:10 is a charity focused on helping people to take practical action on climate change. It will organise a 'heat-seeking quest' event, which invites people to consider the issue of (waste) heat and low carbon energy, not just as a technical or policy problem, but a fun, cultural experience. The project will also explore how effective these methods are at influencing the views of policymakers. 

2. Community Action MK, a charity based in Milton Keynes, wants the developers of driverless cars to think about the needs of disabled people. To do this, they plan to use storytelling methods, alongside a live demonstration of driverless car technology, to understand the needs of disabled people and influence the practice of engineers and policymakers. 

3. Doink is a collective of artists, technologists and researchers who have a mission to harness the power of data to tell stories and help organisations make better decisions. In partnership with the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), they plan to work with young people across Birmingham to build a data installation that will explore ideas around future skills, to inform and influence the skills policy of the LEP. 

4. Talk Shop and its partner Thinking Box are organisations with a mission to invigorate democracy by involving ordinary people in informed conversations that enable them to have greater influence over the decisions that affect them. In this project, they plan to organise a series of democratic debates on driverless cars, specifically engaging those whose voices are usually ignored in this discussion: schoolchildren, less mobile older people; people from deprived neighbourhoods; and ethnic minorities. Talk Shop and Thinking Box will build these conversations around a discussion kit and videos, to create a game-like environment in which to engage the public on complex policy issues. 

5. Leeds City Council will explore creative approaches to engaging residents in the development of their smart city strategy. The project will create a series of public innovation panels, which will enable the council to engage with members of the public who have not traditionally been engaged in conversations about innovation.

How to get involved

We hope that our grantees will benefit from being part of our programme of support. We also want to use this programme to benefit anyone who is thinking about public engagement in innovation policy. To that end, we’ll be blogging throughout the process, and sharing a final report once the project has finished. We’ll also organise a public event in December to share results. If you are working on a public engagement project and would like to find out more about how to engage with the programme, please get in touch. 

The Everyone Makes Innovation Policy project is led by Tom Saunders. You can find updates on the project here or by following Tom on Twitter: @tom_saunders


Tom Saunders

Tom Saunders

Tom Saunders

Principal Researcher

Tom was a Principal Researcher in the inclusive innovation team.

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Madeleine Gabriel

Madeleine Gabriel

Madeleine Gabriel

Mission Director, sustainable future mission

Madeleine leads Nesta’s mission to create a sustainable future, which focuses on decarbonisation and economic recovery.

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