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.

Started: 2013
Based: London
Website: www.civicsystemslab.org
Twitter: @civicsystemslab
Category: Community Action

Civic Systems Lab is a laboratory that designs and tests methods, strategies and systems to grow the civic economy at regional, city and local level.

This economy, which is built on the ideas and models of innovative citizen-led initiatives, is creating new systems in areas ranging from energy to food and housing to play. It’s changing the appearance and economies of places across the UK and around the world.

Founded in 2013, Civic Systems Lab is part of Project Zero Zero, a collaborative design studio which worked with Nesta and CABE to create A Compendium for the Civic Economy - a publication which profiled the projects leading the civic economy and explored how local leaders could help create the right conditions for it to flourish, and produced the crowdsourced research project, Community Lover’s Guide.

Building on this foundation, Civic Systems Lab has a set of prototypes in progress that are testing the conditions, tactics, tools and wider platforms needed for supporting civic change.

These include:

  • The Open Works in Lambeth, which connects local people with a wide range of resources to work towards a sustainable West Norwood
  • Open Hub in Dudley, which is transforming the community of Wren's Nest Estate
  • The Common Room, a church in Norwich whose programme of activity is organised by a co-operative membership body
  • The Civic Foundry, a £500,000 accelerator programme to stimulate and support new ventures in Birmingham and the Black Country. The Civic Foundry is scaling up its efforts to city level, and aims to collaborate with a further five cities over the next two years.

The Civic Systems Lab team is: Joost Beunderman, Laura Billings, Tessy Britton, Matthew Green, Indy Johar and Immy Kaur.