What is an experiment?

An experiment is a way of testing something to gain new knowledge; to explore if something works; or to determine whether an assumption is true. Put differently, it is a procedure carried out to support, refute, or validate a hypothesis. Experiments typically involve control groups. Using a control group helps to isolate the effects of the experiment from other variables. This increases the reliability of the results, often through a comparison between control measurements and the other measurements.

How do I design an experiment?

There are certain things you will need to think about in order to be able to create an experiment:

  • You will need to define the specific hypothesis(es) or assumptions that your experiment is designed to test. Try to formulate each research question as testable hypothesis: e.g., If [your intervention] then [expected result]. This is your best guess about what you think will happen, and should be based on a clear rationale and good evidence. Your experiment should aim to prove or disprove this hypothesis.
  • What are the factors/variables that you will test? What’s the setting/context in which your experiment will take place?
  • What will you compare your results to (e.g., what controls will you use)?
  • How many participants will you need for your experiment?
  • Is it feasible to conduct your experiment within the 10-months time frame of the grants programme?
  • What will be your outcome indicators, and how will you measure these? This is to find out whether your experiment has been successful or not (i.e. what does success look like, and how will you measure it).
  • A theory of change or logic model might be a useful tool for planning an experiment.

Where can I find out more about designing an experiment?

We have recorded a short webinar on experiment design which you might find a helpful source when designing your experiment.

May people representing different organisations form a consortium for the research?

Yes, this is something we’d encourage. However, you need to decide on one lead organisation and one lead contact person.

Can I submit more than one application?

No. We can only accept one application per organisation.

What kind of costs does the grant funding cover?

  • Direct project costs (we are able to cover overheads as long as they are directly related to the experiment and if it is explicitly requested by institutions, e.g. universities. Overheads are limited to 15%.)
  • Related staff costs (but usually not the costs of recruiting any new staff for the project - this would need to be individually discussed)
  • Limited amount of project-related marketing costs (this will be considered individually for each project)
  • Learning and development / user research (this will be considered individually for each project)

In the initial Expression of Interest you should indicate the overall costs that you expect, but do not need to add a detailed breakdown of the costs. If your project is shortlisted, we will go into the details of your estimated budget with you and will see if there is anything we cannot cover.

Please note that Nesta can only fund projects that advance our charitable objects for public benefit.

Is there anything the grant funding will not cover?

The grants will not fund costs for you to travel to or attend academic conferences.

Is there any requirement for a financial contribution from the institution through which I am applying?

There is no need for any additional financial contribution from the institution. The maximum amount of funding Nesta can provide is £30,000, so in case you need more than that to conduct your experiment you will need to find alternative funding sources.

My project already receives funding from another source - can I still apply?

We are open to fund additional activities within an existing project/projects that receive additional funding, as long as the proposals clearly demonstrate the added value of Nesta funds and explicitly show what the Nesta-funded component of the project is.

If any of my partner organisations wish to make a further financial contribution to the project, will this be an advantage or disadvantage in my application?

Yes - we welcome applications from organisations based anywhere in the UK or globally.

I work for a private business - can I still apply?

Of course: we are open to working with startups and large firms, public bodies and charities, universities and research organisations. If shortlisted, any private companies will need to demonstrate how they will ensure that private benefit is not excessive.

When will the call close?

Deadline for submitting your Expression of Interest is Friday, 25th of October 2019, 11am GMT (UK time).