Our international work

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Nesta is based in the UK, but we work on projects all around the world. We focus on practical projects to promote innovation that changes the world for good. We share what we’ve learned, in areas ranging from the economy and entrepreneurship to innovation within governments and cities.

Our international work includes the following:

  • Skills - We’re working to promote and spread innovation skills around the world, for example through our DIY Toolkit, which has been translated into 12 languages and used by 250,000 people globally.
  • Labs - We’re supporting the work and creation of new innovation labs within national city governments, in countries such as Chile and the United Arab Emirates. We also bring labs together to learn from each other through events like our LabWorks series and a monthly newsletter, Lab Notes.
  • Development - We’re pioneering and promoting new innovation methods in development, working closely with agencies such as UNDP and the World Bank. In 2016, we published a definitive overview of the state of innovation in international development.
  • Entrepreneurship - We’re supporting new ways of backing entrepreneurship, for example through our Innovation Growth Lab, which brings together support from a dozen countries and backs experiments across the world to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. We’re also a lead partner in Startup Europe, an initiative that helps startups to scale through collaborations with corporates.
  • Cities - Much of our work focuses on promoting innovation in cities, including looking at lessons from Smart City projects around the world, as well as working on open innovation methods in cities such as São Paulo.
  • New frontiers in innovation - We’re working to both document and promote new tools for innovation, ranging from the spread of accelerators and social incubators to recent projects looking at the role of makerspaces in China and support for social entrepreneurs across India.
  • Challenge prizes - Our Challenge Prize Centre now works across the world. Our flagship Longitude Prize has inspired more than 200 teams around the globe to work on developing a diagnostic test to address the challenge of antibiotic resistance. The prize has been supported not just by UK bodies like Innovate UK, but also the Indian government and global companies such as GSK. We’ve also run a number of other global prizes, with topics including the integration of refugees and migrants in Europe and finding ways to drive innovation in aquaculture in India and Bangladesh. We advise the Government of Canada’s Impact and Innovation Unit on the research, design and delivery of their challenge prizes; these look to improve housing supply, reduce food waste, design energy-efficient boats, reduce harm from the opioid crisis, address adult learning needs and more.
  • Accelerated policymaking - Through the Global Innovation Policy Accelerator, we're working with Innovate UK and a unique team of academic, public and private sector organisations to lead the delivery of a tailor-made programme for innovation policymakers across the globe.

As always, we never work alone. Through our international work, we’ve partnered with many foundations, including the Rockefeller Foundation, the BMW Foundation and the Kauffman Foundation; global companies such as Google, Santander and Pearson, and more than 30 national governments.

Nesta Italia

Nesta Italia is an independent, not-for-profit foundation operating under license to use the name from Nesta, and backed by Compagnia di San Paolo, one of Italy’s largest and oldest philanthropic foundations.

Launched in October 2017, it will grow new ideas to address Italy’s most pressing societal challenges using Nesta’s proven innovation methods. Nesta Italia will initially run programmes to encourage innovation in education; responses to migration; health and ageing; and the arts and cultural heritage; and will be based in Turin.

More details on the programmes and activities will be announced via the foundation’s website at www.nestaitalia.org

Browse our map of international projects