Calling all innovation educators

How can we engage, inspire and develop the next generation of UK innovators that truly reflects the diversity of our society? How can we shift culture, perceptions and attitudes that stop some young people from achieving their innovative potential?

We’re currently working on a research project to answer these questions, and as part of the project we’re compiling a database of interventions and initiatives that work with school-age children and young people (5-19 year olds) to increase participation in innovation in the UK. That might be through addressing stereotypes about what it means to work in STEM, developing design and invention skills, challenging young people to apply their problem-solving skills to pressing issues in their communities - or something completely different. We’re particularly interested in initiatives that aim to improve representation of girls, minority ethnic groups, people from disadvantaged backgrounds or others who are under-represented among innovators.

So far, we’ve identified over 40 initiatives that fit this description but we don’t want to miss anything! If you are working on an intervention you think is relevant to this research, please tell us about it.

Here are just a few good examples of the types of initiatives we’re talking about:

FixEd: This ‘think-and-do-tank’ works to equip children and young people with the skills, resources and sheer enthusiasm to translate STEAM learning into creative problem-solving. ‘Fixperts’ is a learning programme for school and university students, and this summer will see the debut in Brixton, South London of ‘FixCamp’, or “the summer camp for kids who want to fix the world.”

Longitude Explorer Prize: The 2017 Prize, run by IBM and Nesta’s own Challenge Prize Centre, challenged young people aged 11-16 to develop innovative, practical solutions to health and wellbeing issues affecting people in the UK, using the Internet of Things. This initiative builds young people’s STEM skills (with 90 per cent of participants in the 2014 pilot reporting improvement), as well as soft skills in problem-solving, presentation and entrepreneurship.

Enabling Enterprise: Set up by a team of teachers in 2009, Enabling Enterprise aims to build in primary and secondary school students the skills that underlie enterprising behaviour in later life: skills such as creative problem-solving, communication, self-management and collaboration. Programme activities include lesson-time projects, designated ‘Challenge Days’, and trips to employers.


Juliet Ollard

Juliet Ollard

Juliet Ollard

Data Justice Senior Researcher, Data Analytics Practice

Juliet was a senior researcher in the Inclusive Impact unit within Nesta’s Data Analytics Practice.

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