Why are we doing this?
Nesta believes innovation policy should be more inclusive. We want to see innovation policy that aims to get more people involved in innovation; that directs innovation capacity and resources towards big social challenges and to the needs of marginalised or underserved people; and that tries to ensure that the benefits of innovation are spread more equitably.
We think that in order to shift goals of innovation policy in this way, we need a wider range of people to take part in innovation policymaking. Science and innovation have wide-ranging effects on the lives of everyone, yet only a tiny group of people get to make important decisions about what is prioritised and how resources are used. For example, some studies show that only 15 per cent of scientists come from working-class households, which comprise 35 per cent of the general population. This lack of diversity, as scientist Dr James Moore says, narrows "the kinds of questions we ask, the kinds of problems we think worth tackling and the ways in which we go about doing our work".
Engaging the wider public in innovation policymaking could improve the way that policies are designed, help make sure they focus on the most pressing challenges, and encourage decision makers to take ethical considerations into account.
What are we doing?
We are looking to fund projects that will use creative methods to engage members of the public in issues relating to innovation policy. By innovation policy, we mean the range of things that governments - national, regional and local - can do to promote and support innovation for economic growth and for public good. Projects might, for example, focus on involving the public in one or more of the following:
- Uncovering or reframing problems or needs that innovation could address
- Identifying priorities or challenges for innovation policy
- Deciding how funds should be spent
- Influencing the way that new technologies are developed, used or regulated
- Devising sets of principles to guide policymakers’ decisions
- Monitoring and improving existing policy initiatives
We’d also welcome other suggestions as long as they have a link to policy or decision making around innovation.
Projects can target a broad spectrum of the public, or focus on specific sets of people. We’re particularly interested in projects that are able to reach people who are typically excluded from policymaking processes.
We hope these grants will help show policymakers the value of engaging the public on these issues as well as demonstrate a range of interesting and exciting ways this can be done. We’re interested in high-tech and low-tech methods, online and offline, but we’ll prioritise projects that go beyond traditional consultation methods like focus groups and surveys, which are already familiar to decision makers.
We’re particularly interested in projects that have potential for a tangible outcome. For example, following publication of the government’s Industrial Strategy White Paper, local areas across the UK are being encouraged to develop local industrial strategies - we’d be keen to see projects that help engage the public in how these are produced. Or maybe there’s scope to shape how a local facility (e.g. a science park or innovation centre) is being used. Or perhaps the project aims to shift mindsets, rather than influencing a specific decision or strategy - for example by getting members of the public to debate issues directly with decision makers, scientists, researchers, businesses or inventors.
What we offer
We will provide funding up to £15k per proposal, although you do not have to bid for the maximum - we would welcome proposals for smaller, riskier projects that require a smaller amount of funding to deliver. This will be grant funding – we will not own the IP to the work, although, as a charity, Nesta has an interest in widely disseminating the findings from research and projects it supports for public benefit. Nesta will publish a report on new methods for public engagement with innovation policy in late 2018, based on the grants we fund in this project. The report will be shared widely with both local and national policymakers and research funders. Please note that VAT is not payable on grants.
At least one person from your team will need to attend an initial networking event with other funded projects in London, to be held in April/May 2018. You will also need to attend a one-day event at Nesta in London in December 2018 to present your work to a wider audience. We’d welcome members of the public who’ve participated in your project to come too. You can include travel and accommodation costs for up to five people in your project budget.
- 20 February Public call for proposals opens
- 9 March, 9am Call closes
- w/c 12 March Shortlisting and phone interviews with shortlisted teams
- 19 March Selection complete, contracting begins
- April/May 2018 Initial networking workshop for funded projects
- December 2018 Teams participate in public event at Nesta to showcase their work
Between October and November 2018 we will work with project teams to create a case study of their project that can be shared on the Nesta website and incorporated into a report on public engagement in innovation policy. All grant funding must be spent by the end of March 2019, although we expect most projects to take around six months.
How to propose a project
To apply for a grant, you will need to prepare a short proposal of no more than five pages, including the following information:
- Rationale: why you want to do this project and how it meets the goals of this call
- Methodology: how you’ll go about it
- Outcomes: what you hope the project will achieve
- Brief details of the project team, outlining their expertise in this area, and any other partners who will be involved
- A budget showing how you will spend the grant, separating out staff time and other costs
- A realistic timeline for undertaking the work
Full details of the people who will be working on the project and a description of the applicants' organisation(s) should be provided as additional appendices. Submissions should be single-spaced, in 11-point font and on A4 paper.