About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Building a learning programme for creative hubs

We’ve been exploring the experiences and needs of creative hubs, their leaders and communities, and captured some of our key insights in a short report.

Creative hubs are part of a worldwide movement, supporting creative communities to collaborate, create and thrive. They do this through extensive entrepreneurial activities, convening, sheer hard work and determination.

We are working with the British Council and Hivos, to build a learning offer specific to the needs of these complex, evolving, enterprises. We kicked this off with a research phase where we ran workshops and carried out interviews with over 60 creative hubs from across Southeast Asia and Africa. We’ve now synthesised the key insights in this mini report, which will inform the shape of our programme testing and piloting over the coming months.

Download the report>>

What we learned

We've highlighted a few of our key insights here, but to find out more, download the report.

  • Shared characteristics: While every hub leader in our research had their own set of characteristics, challenges and enablers, there were also a significant number of shared drivers and characteristics between the hubs and their leaders too. This means that the learning programme we create must promote the development of hubs with these characteristics in mind.
Characteristics summary
  • Stages of growth: While we had originally broken the journey of a hub into three stages, through the research we found that five stages of growth was more appropriate. Any learning programme therefore will need the flexibility to respond to each of these stages.
Stages of growth
  • Key activities: Codifying the key activities involved in running a creative hub was important in order for us to get closer to learning needs of leaders. The insights from this exercise will form the basis of the content areas we can develop with our learning programme.
Key activities
  • Learning needs: We worked with the participants to convert some of the challenges faced by hubs into skills gaps and learning needs. This exercise helped us to identify four key need areas, all directly linked to the life cycle of the hub.
Learning needs

The opportunity

We believe there is an opportunity to develop a more holistic approach to supporting the development of hub leaders and the sustainability of their business models. Building on the stages of growth, we have considered where our collective effort could be best placed to respond to the needs of hub leaders at each stage. This includes two elements:

Assess support needs

We will design an easy-to-use, quick diagnostic tool to assess the stage of growth of creative hubs. We will then be able to signpost them to relevant support materials, or opportunities to engage with local activities or networks that already exist.

Support growth

We will offer a variety of resources and opportunities that respond to the needs of hub leaders at different stages. These can be loosely categorised as:

  • Tools and training
  • Coaching retreat model
  • Leaders and exchange

Next steps

We will be continuing to refine the offer of our learning programme for creative hubs with key stakeholders before moving into developing and testing it. Keep an eye on the Nesta website for more updates coming soon.


Diana Hidalgo

Diana Hidalgo

Diana Hidalgo

Learning Designer

Diana works in the Innovation Skills team as a Learning Designer supporting the connection between programmes and users.

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Georgina Innes

Georgina Innes

Georgina Innes

Learning Services Manager

Georgina worked in the Innovation Skills team as a Learning Services Manager.

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Glen Mehn

Glen Mehn

Glen Mehn

Head of Development Innovation

Glen was the Head of Development Innovation.

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