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Interactive toolkit launched to help researchers and wonks be more experimental

New online tool shows value of RCTs to innovation, entrepreneurship and business policymaking

A new toolkit to encourage policymakers, researchers and academics to experiment more with randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in order to make innovation, entrepreneurship and growth policy more effective has today been launched by Nesta’s Innovation Growth Lab (IGL).

IGL is a global collaboration that tests and gathers evidence on novel approaches to innovation and business support. It argues that by trying new ideas, starting small and finding out what works early on, resources can be directed to scale up programmes that have been shown to be effective. The Experimentation Toolkit was announced to coincide with the opening of the annual IGL Global Conference 2017, a two-day event in Barcelona this week (13-14 June), and is available to access online (

Designed to guide users through the development and implementation of RCTs, the toolkit has a step-by-step guide with tips on how to assess topic suitability and trial feasibility, and also gives practical advice on measurement and evaluation. Also included is the IGL Database which shares evidence from 70 innovation and business support trials taking place worldwide - issues range from assessing the impact of public entrepreneurship training programmes to detailing what characteristics are most important to investors of start-ups.

Albert Bravo-Biosca, director of the Innovation Growth Lab, Nesta said, “Though popular in medicine and education, RCTs remain quite new to innovation policy - we’re missing a trick here. RCTs are a hugely flexible and powerful tool which can be used to make innovation and high-growth entrepreneurship policy programmes as effective as possible. We will be exploring this topic with over 200 senior policymakers and researchers in Barcelona this week.

“In this rapidly changing world, we need to be as experimental as possible - learning by doing and tweaking policy as it is tested is key to ensuring that we create the best, most inclusive policies for economic growth. The Experimentation Toolkit is the first step for those keen to unlock the potential of RCTs for the big challenges of our time.”

The Innovation Growth Lab Global Conference 2017 is hosted by innovation foundation Nesta, in collaboration with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the World Bank Group, the Cotec Foundation, the “La Caixa” Banking Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank.


Notes to editors

The Innovation Growth Lab second annual Global Conference is taking place at CosmoCaixa Barcelona, Carrer d'Isaac Newton, 26, 08022 Barcelona, 13 June 2017 - 9:00am - 14 June 2017 - 6:00pm.

For the event programme, visit

Interview opportunities with speakers are available on request. For more information contact Kasia Murphy in Nesta’s press office on +44 (0) 20 7438 2610/2543 or +44 (0) 79 2980 0765, or by email on: [email protected]

About Nesta: Nesta is a global innovation foundation.  We back new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, making use of our knowledge, networks, funding and skills.  We work in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities.  We are a UK charity that works all over the world, supported by a financial endowment.  To find out more visit

Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833.

About Innovation Growth Lab: IGL is an initiative led by Nesta is a partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, the Argidius Foundation, ACCIÓ, the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, the Austrian Research Promotion Agency, Innovate UK, Innovation Norway, Scottish Enterprise, Tekes and the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.