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.

From Monday, 28 September to Thursday, 1 October 2020 we held a series of digital events celebrating the organisations and innovations that have pioneered people powered public services over the past ten years and supported over half a million people. We welcomed bold innovators who have used their skills and creativity to help local governments and community groups tackle society's big problems, from COVID-19 to the climate crisis.

Please click on a session below to view the recording.

Monday, 28 September 13:00 - 14:00 | Tortoise ThinkIn with Matt d’Ancona

Please view this session recording here

The COVID-19 pandemic inspired a range of local and national initiatives to keep people safe, assist the vulnerable, support frontline workers and strengthen neighbourhood ties. But was it just a bubble of altruism - or something more profound? And what are the practical lessons to be learned from the activism of 2020?


  • Vidhya Alakeson - Chief Executive, Power of Change
  • Patrick Vernon OBE - social commentator and cultural historian
  • Yvonne Wancke - teacher and mother of four
  • Chaired by Matt d'Ancona, Editor and Partner at Tortoise

Tuesday, 29 September 9:00 - 9:45

Please note this session was not recorded.

It has the power to change the way you see the world and, indeed, how you see yourself!

Start your day by exploring some great literature! Join The Reader as they host a Shared Reading interactive session, bringing people together and literature to life. This is literature as you’ve never experienced it before – live and aloud. Let the power of words move you as we read a great poem and share our thoughts along the way.

Our trained Reader Leaders will guide the conversation as we leave everything else behind and immerse ourselves in the joy of sharing great literature. Whether you want to take part or prefer to sit back and listen, come along and discover why thousands of people around the world take part in Shared Reading every week.   

Reader Leaders: 

  • Clare Ellis - Head of Learning & Quality, The Reader
  • Jane Kingsford - Volunteer Reader Leader, The Reader
  • Ruksana Lad - Volunteer Reader Leader, The Reader
  • Natalie Kaas Pontoppidan - Learning & Quality Leader, The Reader

Tuesday, 29 September 10:00 - 11:15

Please view the session recording here.

For the past decade, Nesta has been supporting the innovators working tirelessly with communities and citizens to create people-powered solutions to some of our greatest challenges. But what have we learnt from those working inside, alongside and outside of public services?

From loneliness and isolation to entrenched inequalities, hear from how approaches have been designed differently and what needs to happen to take this from margins to mainstream, to support healthier and happier communities. Join the conversation, exchange ideas and discover what’s next for reshaping people-powered public services fit for the 21st Century.


  • Baroness Barran - Minister for Civil Society, UK Government
  • Carrie Deacon - Director of Government and Community Innovation, Nesta
  • Darin Halifax - Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships Lead, NHS Devon
  • Kate O'Brien - Director of business development and programmes, Grandparents Plus
  • Heather Richardson - Joint Chief Executive, St Christopher’s Hospice
  • Vicki Sellick - Chief Partnerships Officer, Nesta

Tuesday, 29 September 12:00 - 13:15

Please view the session recording here.

Is social infrastructure the solution to building happier, healthier and more resilient communities? Leaving the erosion of civic space in the past, we need to look towards the innovation that will help us build connections, support community creativity and encourage problem-solving.

Join us as we explore not just the physical infrastructure that could transform our highstreet and neighbourhoods, but what will underpin it to enable communities to dare to dream, solve the challenges and seize the opportunities in the coming years.


  • Pooja Agrawal - Assistant Director of Strategy Service, Homes England
  • Andrew Cribb - CEO and co-founder, 3 Space
  • Carrie Deacon - Director of Government and Community Innovation, Nesta
  • Anna Hamilos - Senior Programme Manager, Nesta
  • Immy Kaur - Co-founder and director, Civic Square
  • Matt Leach - Chief Executive, Local Trust
  • Emma Warren - author of Make Some Space

Tuesday, 29 September 14:00 - 15:00

Please view the session recording here.

For most of human history, the rules of power have been clear. To get ahead or get things done, you need to be closed, inaccessible, leader-driven and jealously guarded. This 'Old Power' approach has been shaken to its core of late with the rise of a 'New Power' achieving great impact. Made by the many rather than the few, this change of direction is open, participatory, peer-driven and fed by our world of ubiquitous connectivity.

In this conversation, we examine how these power dynamics are playing out in this age of crisis, and what they may mean for how we respond to the big challenges facing us - from the pandemic to climate change.


  • Jeremy Heimans, CEO and co-founder, Purpose and co-founder, Avaas.org
  • Carrie Deacon, Director of Government and Community Innovation, Nesta

Wednesday, 30 September 11:00 - 12:00

Please view the session recording here

Pioneering local authorities around the country are experimenting with different ways to address the complex challenges their communities face. By moving attention and resources upstream of service delivery, they are exploring how they can help create the conditions that enable citizens to thrive.

To do this they are adopting new ways of working - new operating models - that acknowledge the complexity and interconnectedness of social issues and the people and organisations that aim to tackle them. Join us to hear how members of the Upstream Collaborative are adopting new operating models that enable them to rewire their relationships with communities and partners.


  • Sarah Eaton - Assistant Director Strategy and Policy, Derbyshire County Council
  • Jenni Lloyd - Programme Manager, Innovation Programmes, Nesta
  • Joe Micheli - Head of Commissioning (Early Intervention, Prevention & Community Development), City of York Council
  • Rhodri Rowlands - Head of Programmes, London Borough of Barking & Dagenham

Wednesday, 30 September 12:30 - 13:30

Please view the session recording here.

Following on from the previous session where we explore what is currently happening with the Upstream Collaborative, this quickfire Q+A session - with leading local government practitioners - will unearth what it could mean for the future of local government.


  • Mark Adams - Assistant Director Communities and Health, Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council
  • Amanda Askham - Director of Business Improvement and Development, Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Jenni Lloyd - Programme Manager, Innovation Programmes, Nesta
  • Anna Randle - Chief Executive, Collaborate CIC
  • Mark Smith - Director Public Service Reform, Gateshead Council

Wednesday, 30 September 14:30 - 16:00

Please view the session recording here

Looking back over 10 years of People Powered Health, this session will take you on a virtual tour touching down in Essex, stopping off in Manchester, landing in Liverpool and then heading to Scotland. Through a mix of presentations and breakout discussions, you’ll hear from people who took part in the 100 Day Challenge to create opportunities for people with learning disabilities and autism, improve life for children and young people, and support neighbourhood teams to design and deliver services in partnership with local people.


Participants of Nesta's 100 Day Challenge in Essex, Manchester, Liverpool and Midlothian.

Thursday, 1 October 12:00 - 13.30

Please view the session recording here

Join us for an interactive session as we reimagine how our democracy can be upgraded and shaped to build back better in the UK. Chaired by Joe Mitchell, and featuring the award-winning Democracy Pioneers, our panel will explore ambitions for a more legitimate, empathetic and participatory recovery, highlighting emerging approaches for democracy to thrive beyond the ballot box, everyday. Be it through redistributing power and holding institutions to account, to harnessing the energy of social movements and mass localism, participants will have the opportunity to join our panelists and one another in discussion on the large-scale changes required for democracy to thrive post-COVID.


Please click on a session above to view the recording.