Two new Practice Guides: Innovation Teams & Labs and Accelerators

After the positive response to our Challenge Prize Practice Guide earlier this year, these new publications share Nesta’s practical insight and knowledge around two more innovation approaches – Innovation Teams and Labs and Startup Accelerator Programmes.

These Practice Guides are designed to help you make sense of each approach and to explore the practicalities you’ll need to consider. They do this by:

  • Introducing and explaining each approach.
  • Giving pointers to help sense check if an approach is right for you.
  • Providing actionable prompts to get you started in practice.
  • Pointing to further resources.

Rather than definitive manuals, these Practice Guides are intended to introduce and help readers make sense of different innovation methods and approaches. With that in mind, we’ll continue to update and refine the Practice Guides as these innovation areas develop and our knowledge deepens.

Innovation Teams and Labs: A Practice Guide

Government innovation is changing. We are witnessing a rapid growth of innovation teams, labs, units and funds across government – all tackling challenges as diverse as reducing murder rates, increasing business growth, and cutting poverty. Yet how do they work, what do they do, and what are the crucial lessons for anyone wanting to set one up?

The Innovation Teams and Labs Practice Guide is based on Nesta's long experience – both practical and research-driven – around public and social innovation, and outlines how an innovation team, lab, unit or fund can be created

The guide is primarily aimed at governments, but the methods, lessons and tips are also applicable to a wider audience of businesses, NGOs, and any others interested in developing a structured, disciplined and impactful innovation capability.

The guide will help you to:

  • Learn about the history and current landscape of innovation teams and labs.
  • Understand the benefits of innovation teams, and when they can be effective.
  • Begin to think about designing an innovation team, with practical tools and methods provided to support thinking and planning.

Startup Accelerator Programmes

Over the past decade, a new wave of programmes designed to support early stage startups have sprung up across the globe. Known as accelerators, these programmes have helped to produce some huge business successes – including names such as AirBnB and Dropbox. However, a large number of accelerated companies still struggle to find follow on funding, and becoming a financially sustainable accelerator programme is no easy task.

The aim of Startup Accelerator Programmes Practice Guide, therefore, is to help you understand some of the key choices and challenges you’ll need to think about if considering building a programme of your own. It does this by bringing together common practices and patterns to highlight and frame the decisions facing policymakers, investors or anyone interested in the creation and running of these programmes.

The guide will help you to:

  • Understand the common characteristics and different roles of accelerators.
  • Think about why you might choose an accelerator programme as an incubation method.
  • Start to think about accelerator design in your own context by providing practical prompts alongside the key aspects of creating and running an accelerator.

As we continue to develop our Practice Guides series, we greatly appreciate any feedback or comments. Please get in touch by emailing [email protected], or visit the Develop Your Skills section of the Nesta website.

And keep an eye out for the next two Practice Guides in the series, coming soon, on Impact Investment and Data for Innovation.


Isobel Roberts

Isobel Roberts

Isobel Roberts

Content and Communications Manager, Innovation Skills

Isobel worked in the Innovation Skills team as Content and Communications Manager, helping to build Nesta's learning and development offering.

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