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.

The role of the Discovery Hub

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.

Anticipating shifts in the external landscape.

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.

Graduating promising ideas into new programmes.

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.

Sharing intelligence on the cutting-edge of innovation.

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.

Our approach

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:

  • Interdisciplinary: The Hub brings together futures methods (such as simulation and scenario building) with data science and qualitative research. Whilst we are data-driven, designers and creative practitioners play a vital role in helping us to both make sense of, and communicate, insights.
  • Participatory: We believe that local communities, practitioners and those with lived experience are vital sources of insight when it comes to identifying alternative approaches. We work with the tools of participatory futures to open up public conversations.
  • Social impact-led: Whilst some of the innovations we explore are at a very early stage; the idea or technology must have real potential to generate public benefit - not just profit.

Above all, we think good ideas can come from anywhere and anyone. If you’re working on something you’d like to share with us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via [email protected]

Team

Celia Hannon

Celia Hannon

Celia Hannon

Director of Discovery

Celia leads the Discovery Hub, Nesta’s in-house strategic foresight function.

View profile
Laurie Smith

Laurie Smith

Laurie Smith

Senior Foresight Lead, Discovery Hub

Laurie leads on strategic foresight for Nesta.

View profile
Florence Engasser

Florence Engasser

Florence Engasser

Senior Foresight Analyst

Florence is a Senior Foresight Analyst within Nesta’s Discovery Hub, which aims to create a link between Nesta’s current portfolio and our pipeline of future work.

View profile
Louis Stupple-Harris

Louis Stupple-Harris

Louis Stupple-Harris

Senior Foresight Analyst

Louis is a Senior Foresight Analyst within Nesta’s Discovery Hub, which aims to create a link between Nesta’s current portfolio and our pipeline of future work.

View profile
Karlis Kanders

Karlis Kanders

Karlis Kanders

Senior Data Foresight Lead, Discovery

Karlis is a Senior Data Foresight Lead working in Nesta’s Discovery team

View profile
Petra Perjesi

Petra Perjesi

Petra Perjesi

Discovery Manager

Petra is the Discovery Manager in the Discovery Hub, Nesta’s in-house strategic foresight function.

View profile
Siobhan Chan

Siobhan Chan

Siobhan Chan

Content Editor, Communications

Siobhan is a Content Editor in Nesta’s Discovery Hub.

View profile
Rachel Parker

Rachel Parker

Rachel Parker

Team Coordinator (Discovery and Strategy)

Rachel is the Discovery and Strategy team coordinator, providing support for projects across Nesta’s Discovery Hub and Strategy Unit.

View profile