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.

Five top tips for your application to the Rethinking Parks Awards

The Rethinking Parks programme focuses on two areas; to support parks innovators to replicate and adapt promising models for operating parks, and to test new ways of using digital technology to contribute to the sustainability of parks.

1. Replication award: Grants of up to £200k over two years aimed at supporting organisations to set up, run and learn from innovative, tested, operating models for parks

2. Prototyping award: Grants of up to £100k over 9-15 months to support testing and learning from digital and data innovations with the potential to address challenges that parks face

So what makes a good application?

1. Read, Read, Read!

At this stage, we understand that you may have a lot of questions about the two different awards and whether they are suitable for your idea. The best way to figure this out is to read through the information provided for each of the two award streams to understand more about the eligibility requirements for each fund. If you need further details, we suggest taking a look at the questions in the Replication and Prototyping application forms.

You might also find it helpful to read background information on the previous programme:

2. Have a look at our frequently asked questions

The programme FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions - are a useful quick reference to specific questions and answers about the programme. We will regularly update the FAQ page throughout the programme with answers to new questions that other applicants have asked already. It may be that your question has been asked before. Another place to look for information that will be updated as the programme develops is on the programme blog and comments.

3. Think collaboratively

We strongly welcome collaborations that involve local authorities, community members, social enterprises and encourage partnerships with all organisations that provide expertise and support to help progress your idea. We believe community involvement is an important factor in the success of many projects and involving a range of relevant stakeholders early on would be very useful.

In terms of partnerships, we would advise applicants to draw on others’ networks, skills and support as appropriate. We do not expect you to have all of the answers or relationships within one organisation. It is important to think about what makes the most sense for your idea and what form of partnership and engagement would bring value to your project.

You will need to confirm that all named partners have reviewed the application but only one should be nominated as the lead organisation. However, at this stage, it is not a requirement and we would not exclude applications from solely individual organisations.

4. Think clearly about what you do and the outcomes you want to achieve

Of course, it is important for us to know how your innovation will work and be delivered; but we are also very interested to hear about the outcomes of your project.

Outcomes define the ultimate benefits that your model will provide to the park and its users. Will our proposed idea help parks become more financially sustainable? Why do we believe our proposed idea will make a difference to this? Who are the beneficiaries and how will they stand to benefit from the project idea? These are questions that will help you explain the outcomes of your model or innovation.

5. Be your own critical friend

Innovation is inherently about testing new ideas and can involve taking some managed risks. With this in mind, we understand that some aspects of your project might not be as developed as others at this stage. Talk to us! For successful applications, we need to know how we can best support the innovation and learning process.

Rethinking Parks is not only about providing financial support to the successful grantees but also non-financial support peer support and expertise. Non-financial support could be a whole range of things – new people, processes, partners; funding won’t be the only thing you need, so please think about and identify what you don’t know just as much as what you do know.

If things are still unclear or you are unsure about something then don't worry, we have done our best to make the application form questions very straightforward and our dedicated team is happy to answer any of your questions or clarifications. Feel free to email us at [email protected] and we will aim to respond to you within two working days.

Good luck!


Tiffany Holmgren

Tiffany Holmgren

Tiffany Holmgren

Programme Manager, Data Analytics Practice

Tiffany is a Programme Manager in the Data Analytics Practice.

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Parth Avlani

Parth Avlani

Parth Avlani

Rethinking Parks Intern

Parth worked for the Rethinking Parks Project, within the Government Innovation field of work.

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