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.

This event took place on Thursday 13 July. You can watch the recording below.

The rise of a new breed of tech titans has shifted the economic paradigm and governments are struggling to adapt. The result? Reduced consumer choice and entrenched economic inequalities.

With existing regulatory tools designed before the digital age, policymakers will need creative thinking to level up the playing field.

In his Minister for the Future piece tech author and Nesta’s Chief Practices Officer James Plunkett argues for a refresh of our regulatory toolkit to bring policy up to speed and open up the tech monopolies, not just break them apart.

In conversation with Alan Rusbridger, Editor of Prospect Magazine, James joined us live to discuss why we need to act now to tackle tech monopolies and how a forward-thinking regulatory framework could help us do so.

Alongside our expert panel, James and Alan explored the biggest challenges and underlying functionalities of our current tech landscape. Given the rapid changes and developments in tech, the panel carved out the most promising opportunities to shape technologies in favour of long term public benefits.

Want to find out what our attendees and speakers thought of our event? Watch back our highlights reel on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The opinions expressed in this event recording are those of the speaker. For more information, view our full statement on external contributors.



Chair: Alan Rusbridger


Alan Rusbridger is editor of Prospect Magazine. Previously he was editor-in-chief of The Guardian from 1995 to 2015 and then Principal of Lady Margaret Hall at the University of Oxford until 2021. He also chairs the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and sits on the Facebook Oversight Board. During his time at the Guardian, both he and the paper won numerous awards, including the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service Journalism. The Guardian grew from a printed paper with a circulation of 400,000 to a leading digital news organisation with 150m browsers a month around the world. He launched now-profitable editions in Australia and the US as well as a membership scheme which now has 1m Guardian readers paying for content. He was born in Zambia, was educated at Cambridge and lives in London. He is the co-author of the BBC drama, Fields of Gold. He is a keen amateur musician and the author of Play it Again. His memoir of journalism and its future, Breaking News, was published in 2018. His latest book, News and How to Use it, was published in 2020.


Speaker: Alexandra Burns


Alex is interim Director of Discovery, leading Nesta’s Discovery Hub in the strategy department. Alex joined Nesta in February 2023 after a decade in government as a civil servant. Her focus has been on domestic policy issues across a range of roles including as education policy lead in the 10 Downing Street policy unit, private secretary to the Prime Minister during the COVID-19 pandemic, and heading up the ministers’ offices in the Department of Digital, Media, Culture and Sport. She started her time in government as a social research analyst after studying Experimental Psychology, and her love of innovative policy began when she worked on the introduction of standardised packaging for cigarettes in 2015.


Speaker: James Plunkett


James is Chief Practices Officer for Nesta and the Behavioural Insights Team. James has worked for a decade in digital transformation and public policy. Before joining Nesta he led digital technology and policy at Citizens Advice and before that he held roles at 10 Downing Street, the Cabinet Office, and leading policy at the Resolution Foundation think tank. James's book, End State, explores how we reform the state for a digital age. He sits on the board of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation and writes regularly on technological change and its implications for the way we govern society.

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Responder: Carissa Véliz

Carissa is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at the Institute for Ethics in AI, and a Fellow at Hertford College at the University of Oxford. She is the recipient of the 2021 Herbert A. Simon Award for Outstanding Research in Computing and Philosophy. She is the author of the highly-acclaimed Privacy Is Power (an Economist book of the year, 2020) and the editor of the Oxford Handbook of Digital Ethics. She advises policymakers and companies around the world on privacy and the ethics of AI.

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Responder: David Stallibrass


David is a professional economist and Director at the leading strategic regulatory advisory firm, Fingleton. He has a wealth of expertise in competition enforcement and consumer protection, and works extensively in the tech sector (with large tech firms through to smaller entrants, to the content creators and media companies that rely on them). David's insights are also informed by significant international experience, including his time as a special advisor to the chair of the Egyptian competition authority, and the first economist to present expert antitrust testimony to the Supreme Court of the People's Republic of China. He also draws on a decade of experience at the Office of Fair Trading, where his roles included Director of Strategy and Director of Services markets.


Responder: Hetan Shah

Hetan is chief executive of the British Academy, the UK’s national academy for the humanities and social sciences. He is Chair of Our World in Data, a website providing long run data and evidence on global challenges. He is visiting professor at Kings College London and a Fellow of Birkbeck College. He is a Board member of the Legal Education Foundation, a philanthropic body which works to a stronger justice system. Hetan is a member of a number of advisory boards including at the Resolution Foundation, the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge and UCL’s policy lab

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Responder: Dr Mahlet ("Milly") Zimeta


Dr Mahlet ("Milly") Zimeta is a data and technology policy expert. She has previously been Head of Public Policy at the Open Data Institute (ODI), where she led the ODI's engagement with the UK’s G7 Presidency and award-winning work on the development of the European Health Data Space. She has also been Senior Policy Adviser at the Royal Society (the independent scientific academy of the UK), leading the Society's programme on data and digital disruption. At the Alan Turing Institute (Britain’s national institute for data science and AI) she managed the Turing’s research partnerships in Health and in Finance/Economic Data Science. She currently serves on the UK National Statistician’s Inclusive Data Advisory Committee, on Chatham House's High-Level Taskforce on Responsible AI & Society, and as a Digital Expert for the Competition and Markets Authority (the UK regulator for digital markets). As a journalist she has written for The Paris Review and The Atlantic, among others, and is a grantee of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.