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.

Our panel of 12 judges gathered at the Observer 's HQ for a lively afternoon of discussion to decide who made the final list of 50 New Radicals. The list of inspiring individuals and initiatives tackling society's biggest challenges was whittled down from almost 400 submissions.

The judging panel

Bryony Kimmings

Bryony Kimmings is a performance artist and social activist, whose work aims to provoke social change. She graduated with a degree in Modern Drama in 2003, and is now based in London as an associate artist at Soho Theatre. Her work often features a strong autobiographical element, 7 Day Drunk detailed Kimmings's week in a monitored but constant state of inebriation to explore alcohol's effect on creativity, while Sex Idiot discussed her sexual history. At 2015's Edinburgh Festival Fake it 'til you Make it, about men and depression, won a Fringe First award. A Pacifist's Guide to the War on Cancer, a musical commissioned by Complicite, will open at Home in Manchester in September and run at the National Theatre in London in October.

Pictured above (L-R): Jane Ferguson, Mike Bracken and Bryony Kimmings

Debbie Forster

Debbie Forster is co-CEO at Apps for Good, an open-source education technology movement which teaches young people how to create 'world-changing' apps. The project has more than 1,000 centres in the UK and now Spain, Portugal and the US and has reached over 50,000 young people in five years. She has extensive experience in educational and leadership roles, including working as a headteacher at a comprehensive school. She was named one of the 25 Most Influential Women in UK IT by Computer Weekly in 2014, 2015 and 2016.  

Fiona Duncan

After over 20 years in the voluntary sector, Fiona became Chief Executive at Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland in November 2014, having joined the Foundation the previous autumn as the Deputy Chief Executive. Prior to this, Fiona spent almost seven years at THINK Consulting Solutions, a leading international consultancy dedicated to not for profits where she led on strategic planning assignments, working mainly overseas. From late 1999 until 2006, Fiona was at Capability Scotland, starting as Director of Fundraising and latterly becoming the Director of External Affairs. Before Capability, Fiona was Head of Development at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and before that spent six years with WaterAid’s establishing their office for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Georgia LA

Georgia LA is a presenter, journalist and a DJ on Apple Music’s global radio station Beats 1. While studying journalism at City University London, she became an interviewer on urban music YouTube channel SB.TV and her dissertation on gay rap artists aired as a documentary by BBC Radio 1Xtra. Since then, her credits include creating her own livestreamed YouTube show The Fox Problem which became a cult hit, music coverage for Virgin Media, Vevo, The Brits and covers on BBC Radio 1’s The Surgery.

Pictured above: Georgia LA

Mike Bracken

Mike Bracken is the current Chief Digital Officer for The Co-operative Group. In 2011 he co-founded the UK Government Digital Service (GDS), and was then Executive Director as well as Chief Data Officer until August 2015. Prior to government work, he worked as the Director of Digital Development at Guardian News and Media. He also helped to set up mySociety.org, a not-for-profit social enterprise website that makes social change technologies widely available internationally.

Rohan Silva

Former senior policy advisor to David Cameron and economic adviser to George Osborne, Rohan Silva is co-founder of the social enterprise Second Home, which creates innovative workspaces in London, Lisbon and elsewhere for thinkers, makers, artists and entrepreneurs. He studied at University of Manchester and LSE, and is an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Art. 

Tessy Britton

Tessy Britton is Co-founder of Participatory City, an initiative that seeks to establish large scale neighbourhoods of equality, wellbeing and sustainability through co-operation and practical participation. Britton co-founded Community Lover's Guide, a book series and website which highlights projects that are re-inventing everyday life. An expert in system re-design, collaboration and social innovation, Britton also lectures at a variety of universities within and outside the UK.

Pictured above (L-R): Rohan Silva and Tony Colville

Tony Colville

Tony is an independent consultant experienced in social innovation, policymaking, fundraising and designing campaigns for influencers. For over five years he was Head of Partnerships at The Young Foundation, a leading centre for disruptive social innovation. He now works for a variety of organisations including Change.org, the What Works Centre for Wellbeing and the Royal Society for Public Health, as well as advising numerous private individuals on their campaigns and philanthropy. In his 'spare time' he is Chairman of the Cardiff City FC Foundation and trustee of various charities and social enterprises. 

Twin B 

Alec Boateng, AKA Twin B, is a DJ on BBC Radio 1Xtra's Breakfast Show and is also the A&R Director at Atlantic Records. He is known for signing several major hit pop and RnB records, including Gyptian's Hold Yuh, WSTRN's debut single In2 and even Rihanna's multi-platinum Umbrella. In 2004, he won several awards for his compilation tape entitled Split Mics, which blended UK grime, garage, RnB and hip hop. He is known for his expertise on the UK urban music scene.

Yvonne Roberts

Yvonne is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster. She has worked in television current affairs and documentaries as well as for a number of newspapers. She has written three novels and several non-fiction books on education, gender and social policy. She is a Fellow of the Young Foundation.

Jane Ferguson

Jane has edited the Observer New Review since 2005. She was previously the paper’s arts editor, a role she also held at the London Evening Standard. Jane has written widely across the industry, including for the Sunday Telegraph andTime Out.

Geoff Mulgan

Geoff has been the Chief Executive of Nesta since 2011, and led its transition from the public sector to an independent charity. He was previously the first Chief Executive of the Young Foundation and has worked widely across politics, academia and the media. He remains a visiting professor at LSE, UCL and Melbourne University, and has written four books. From 2015-2018, Geoff is a senior visiting scholar at Harvard University, in the Ash Center at the Kennedy School.