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We believe research and innovation policy can be transformed by more sophisticated mapping of innovative activity, and of the people and organisations behind it, ultimately making it smarter, more inclusive and fitter for the future.

Nesta’s innovation mapping team uses new data sources, data science and machine learning methods and ways of presenting information to inform research and innovation policy.

We work closely with policymakers across the world to explore these opportunities, and share our work through interactive visualisations, open data and open source tools. We also organise interactive sessions and training to introduce policymakers and others in the ecosystem to new data methods and identify how they could help address burning questions about where, when, how and why innovation is happening, and how to support it more effectively.

UK drone industry map

UK drone industry map

We have applied these techniques in a wide range of contexts for a variety of policy questions. Notable examples include using web data to study the immersive economy in the UK, mapping AI research globally using text mining and machine learning, analysing open research collaboration data to visualise Wales’ innovation system, and producing comprehensive analyses of the geography, evolution and drivers of the creative industries in the UK. These examples signal the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the development of innovation policy that is evidence-based.

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Research trends in wales. Data visualisation from Arloesiadur

We are currently developing new innovation indicators for the EU, monitoring the development of advanced technologies for EU industry, mapping health innovation across the world, and mapping innovation in Scotland.

You can find out more about our work by browsing the examples below.