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New Radicals 2018: the search begins to find the people and projects devoted to tackling the UK’s biggest social challenges

A nationwide search has begun to find the UK’s 50 most pioneering individuals and organisations who are innovating to confront some of the biggest problems faced by society today, as New Radicals 2018 opens for entries.

Organised by The Observer and innovation foundation Nesta, the public are invited to nominate themselves, or their own projects, other individuals, charities and schemes that are challenging the status quo and working to find solutions and create a positive change.

Activities might, for instance, include supporting refugees, ensuring young people and adults have the skills they need for the future workplace, working to empower vulnerable groups, tackling environmental issues, using technology innovatively for social good and combating loneliness among old people.

New Radicals launched in 2012 and is run every two years. To enter New Radicals 2018 the project, initiative or company must have been in existence for at least six months but not have been in operation before January 2015. In 2016 entries included:

Techfugees, London, a non-profit social enterprise co-ordinating the international tech community’s response to the needs of refugees fleeing war, famine and persecution.

Lingo Flamingo, Scotland, a social enterprise providing tailored foreign language workshops to older and vulnerable people to help battle against dementia, brain ageing and mental health issues.

OpenUp Music, Bristol, an organisation which works with disabled young people to develop a musical instrument which is playable in real time and to a high level using any part of the body, including the eyes.

End Youth Homelessness, Wales, a partnership of five homelessness organisations in Wales, working with vulnerable young people.

Beatfreeks, Birmingham, a youth engagement agency that co-creates stories, campaigns and experiences with young people to develop skills, networks and confidence through creativity.

From today (Sunday 18 March 2018), the public can apply or nominate a group or individual for New Radicals 2018, just visit to nominate or self-nominate before Sunday 29 April 2018. The judges will then meet in May, with the winners announced on 2 September 2018.

Geoff Mulgan, chief executive of Nesta and New Radicals co-founder says: “Britain has many lists of the rich and powerful and the well-connected. With the New Radicals we’re putting together a different kind of list, a list that could itself be a catalyst for change. Our aim is to shine a light on inspiring people and initiatives doing practical work to make the world a better place, often well below the radar of media which tend to focus on what’s going wrong not what’s going right.”

Yvonne Roberts co-founder of New Radicals and former Observer leader writer says, “In spite of the pessimism and divisive political narrative that is so prevalent, a whole host of positive activity happens on a daily basis in the community. New Radicals offers a platform to celebrate that achievement and inspire others.”

Entries should demonstrate evidence of success and sustainability and show that they are not primarily motivated by profit. The judging panel includes:

  • Michael Sheen, actor and activist with roles such as patron of Social Enterprise UK and UNICEF ambassador
  • Stian Westlake, adviser to the minister for universities, science, research and innovation. He is co-author of Capitalism Without Capital (Princeton, 2017).
  • Josh Babarinde, founder and chief executive of Cracked It, an award-winning social enterprise smartphone repair service staffed by young ex-offenders and youth at risk.
  • Raheel Mohammed, a New Radical in 2012, he founded Maslaha, focused on making long-term change on issues such as health, education, criminal justice and women’s rights in Muslim communities.
  • Mick Ward, chief officer for adults and health at Leeds city council.
  • Cassie Robinson, strategic design director at Doteveryone and co-founder of the Point People, Tech for Good Global and the Civic Shop.
  • Kerry Hudson, author of two award-winning novels: Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma and Thirst.
  • Jaya Chakrabarti, Bristol-based digital activist and co-founder of open data anti-slavery register and digital comms agency Nameless.
  • Sylvia Douglas, founding director of MsMissMrs, a Glasgow based organisation that delivers empowerment programmes for women
  • Ruth Ibegbuna, founder and CEO of RECLAIM, a youth leadership and social change organisation.
  • Mehmoona Pervaz, teenage campaigner from Bradford who helped set up Speakers’ Corner in the city.
  • Geoff Mulgan, chief executive of Nesta
  • Jane Ferguson, editor of Observer New Review
  • Yvonne Roberts, former leader writer of the Observer, co-founder of New Radicals with Geoff Mulgan

The 50 New Radicals of 2018 will be invited to a celebratory event in London, will join the New Radicals alumni network, now 150 strong, and be given support for their ideas and development.

You can see the full list of 2012, 2014 and 2016 New Radicals on the Nesta and The Observer websites.


Regional and sector case studies are available on request.

New Radicals

New Radicals is a search led by Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, and The Observer to find the top people, projects and organisations offering innovative ways to tackle social challenges. It was first launched in 2012 and repeated in 2014 and 2016.

About Nesta

Nesta is a global innovation foundation. It backs new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, through its knowledge, networks, funding and skills. Nesta works in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities. It is 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.

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