The Discovery Hub scans for emerging trends, promising technologies and interventions. We embed strategic foresight at the heart of Nesta and help test promising ideas before applying them in our programmes.
Across our three missions, a fairer start, a healthy life and a sustainable future, Nesta has committed itself to ambitious impact goals. We know that we will need to remain open-minded about the best ways of achieving those goals, searching out alternative approaches and continuing to challenge our own assumptions. We also need to continue to take a long-term view, looking beyond immediate pressures to explore the social, economic and technological drivers which will shape our lives in the decades to come.
The tools of strategic foresight have been tried and tested around the world by researchers, policymakers, NGOs and corporates, helping frame issues in a new light or build collective momentum around a problem. However, even the most compelling insights from such exercises can easily get lost in the act of translation, while many of the promised public benefits of emerging technologies are never fully realised.
Our Discovery Hub uses intelligence about the future and new technologies to change practice in the here-and-now. We support teams to test new approaches and then share what we’ve learned so others can benefit.
Before inequalities can be tackled at a systemic level, we must first identify the drivers shaping our world and build up a picture of the trajectory we are on. Using the latest data on trends alongside early signals of change from our networks, the Discovery Hub helps Nesta to be more responsive to emerging social needs.
The Discovery Hub bridges Nesta’s current portfolio and pipeline of future work; the R&D we undertake today is intended to be applied tomorrow. We run an active programme of employee-driven innovation to surface the best ideas – wherever they come from in the organisation.
The Discovery Hub scans the horizon for methods, interventions and technologies with the potential to move the needle on Nesta’s mission areas. Our analysis focuses on picking out the signal from the noise, so we can spark more informed public debate about the potential of a new technology or idea to generate public benefit.
Nesta has already developed a long track record in this arena; from mounting a defence of the field of futurology (Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow), through to methodological experimentation (The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030) and the mass public engagement of four editions of FutureFest. Under the umbrella of the Explorations team, the organisation incubated the Centre for Collective Intelligence and seeded groundbreaking work on the future of the internet and participatory futures.
Building on this work, the Discovery Hub model is: