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.

Innovation in International Development: What’s the state of the art?

There has been a recent surge in innovation initiatives within international development - with new funds, labs, networks and investments aplenty. In April 2016, we are launching a new book bringing together ideas, experiences and insights from the leading lights in development innovation.

The need for innovation to tackle longstanding complex challenges is clear, yet the learning curve on how to make it happen has been steep. With openness to new ideas, partners and funding models, and with a firm eye on evidence and hype, we need to build on experience to date for a more productive approach to supporting innovation for development in the future.

Drawing on examples from multilateral organisations, bilateral donors, NGOs, companies and foundations, this book offers a helpful introduction for those new to innovation in development, as well as insights for experienced practitioners. The book is structured around four themes:

1. Funding innovation - what are the tools and how do they work

  • Dave Ferguson (Development Innovation Ventures, USAID)
  • Steve Buchsbaum (The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)
  • Toby Eccles (Social Finance)
  • Sarah Dunn (Children’s Investment Fund Foundation)

2. Organising for innovation - labs, R&D units, cultural change

  • James Whitehead (Oxfam)
  • Marpe Tanaka, David Veldeman, Andreas Larsson and Ana Laura Rodrigues Santos (MSF Sweden Innovation Unit)
  • Ravi Gurumurthy (International Rescue Committee)
  • Chris Fabian (UNICEF) and Mariana Amatullo (Designmatters)

3. Harnessing new collaborations - from corporations to the public

  • Jonathan Wong (UN, ex-DFID)
  • Dennis Whittle and Britt Lake (GlobalGiving)
  • Per Heggenes and Radu Dumitrascu (IKEA Foundation)
  • Kim Scriven and Menka Sanghvi (Humanitarian Innovation Fund)

4. Scaling and systems change - getting from good idea to great impact

  • Lauren Franzel and Alan Brooks (Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance)
  • Paul Harvey (High Level Panel on Humanitarian Cash Transfers)
  • Aleem Walji (World Bank)
  • Ben Ramalingam (IDS) and Ken Banks (Kiwanja)

We hope this book is a first step to a more open, practical and productive conversation about how to make innovation work for development.

In the run up to the launch, you will find us at the following events:

  • “Digital Dividends” World Development Report launch - 3rd February 2016
  • Global Innovation Fund UK Launch - 9th February 2016
  • Bond Annual Conference - 29th February 2016

Over the next 6 weeks we will be posting more information on this website about the book and its launch, as well as a series of blog posts.

This collection is part of a growing programme of work at Nesta on innovation in international development. To find out more get in touch with [email protected].


Kirsten Bound

Kirsten Bound

Kirsten Bound

Executive Director of Research, Analysis and Policy

Kirsten was an Executive Director at Nesta and led Nesta’s Research, Analysis and Policy team.

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Irina Ulcica

Irina Ulcica

Irina Ulcica

Research Intern

Irina was an intern in the International Innovation team, working on innovation in international development.

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