About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

It is a shared commitment to make a measurable impact in outcomes for disadvantaged children. Through this open call, we hope to find a small number of local areas in England, Scotland or Wales who would be interested in working with Nesta to reimagine how services and support for children and their families are delivered.

The partnership will follow a structured process based on three stages, adapted in collaboration with the local partner. These are summarised below, but more information is available in the full application pack.

1. Discovering local needs and assets

The discovery phase provides a deep understanding of the needs and assets in a local area. We aim to mutually agree on a small number of high potential areas of focus (eg. families’ uptake of the free entitlement to early education at age two).

In practice, this means combining a) a local area’s deep knowledge of existing provision, assets and challenges, with b) innovation methods designed to surface potential focus areas or working hypotheses. This could involve data analysis, participatory research, mapping assets and community groups, or exploring specific user journeys through services.

2. Developing solutions in partnership

The solutions phase focuses on specific challenges or opportunity areas and developing ideas for how they might be improved.

In practice, this means drawing on existing evidence of effective practice from around the UK (and the world) – or borrowing ideas from analogous problems – to understand what new services might look like, or how existing provision could be adapted. Adapting this information to a local context to develop new solutions which improve children’s outcomes is an important principle in this phase. For example, that might be through co-design and prototyping, or strengthening families’ participation in shaping and delivering services.

3. Implementing new approaches and evaluating their impact

In the third phase of work we trial, test and improve new solutions and evaluate their impact. That might mean:

  • Creating new feedback loops to quickly iterate and improve delivery.
  • Incorporating participatory methods to understand the lived experience of implementation.
  • Fidelity monitoring and process evaluation to understand how services are being delivered.
  • Experimental impact evaluation to measure whether interventions are making a difference to children’s outcomes.

What's next?