The deadline for applications to the Rethinking Parks Prototyping Awards will be Wednesday March 28, 2018 at 18:00 (BST).

Whether you are from a local authority, social enterprise, business improvement district, ‘Friends of’ group, or beyond, we’d love to hear your plans and ideas on how we can rethink parks across the UK.

There are two award streams within the programme:

Replication award: Grants of up to £200k over 2 years aimed at supporting organisations to set up, run and learn from innovative, tested, operating models for parks.

Prototyping award: Grants of up to £100k over 9-15 months to support testing and learning from digital innovations with the potential to address challenges that parks face.

About the prototyping awards

Prototyping award: Grants of up to £100k to be delivered over 9-15 months aimed at testing and learning from innovations that have potential to address the challenges that parks face. We are looking for ideas that use technology; digital tools and data  in ways that will ultimately support parks to attract resources and develop more sustainable operating models and will favour ideas that can demonstrate a clear link to this wider aim.

Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the areas below;

  • Better understanding of who uses parks and how;
  • Connecting existing and potential parks users in the local community;
  • Efficient or different forms of parks and land management;
  • New approaches to engagement/encouraging parks use;
  • Putting the social value of parks into context through combining local open data sets eg. around public health

If you have an idea that you’d like to develop then get in touch with the team [email protected] as we will host one or two events or webinars over the coming months  to introduce potential collaborators who may need some support in developing their idea further.


Initial enquiries are encouraged, as is participation in webinars or events to develop your idea. To reflect this, applications will be accepted up until the closing date of  March 28 2018. Nesta will work with the longlisted ideas to develop them further in a second selection stage before final funding decisions are taken in Spring 2018. We expect work to begin with successful areas in July 2018.


To be considered for funding and support through the programme, the lead applicant should:

  • Be based in the UK
  • Have identified a public park/s or park service/s to work with
  • If you are not the landowner, have agreement or strong likelihood of getting agreement from the landowner to develop the innovation
  • Be a not-for-profit organisation; a social enterprise or a local authority

We welcome proposals from organisations working in partnership, as long as one eligible organisation is nominated as the lead.

Although for-profit businesses cannot be a lead, they can be part of the partnership. If private owners or for-profit organisations are involved in a project, we expect public benefit to be greater than private gain. To this end, we encourage open source approaches to any technical proposal where it is possible to create additional benefits to others.

Funding can only be awarded to test models that have an identifiable public benefit related to the aims of the programme, such as increased financial security of the park, increased public access, community engagement  opportunities for employment and education, increased health and wellbeing, increased biodiversity etc. Any financial profit arising from the Rethinking Parks funding must be reinvested in the same or similar social purpose.

Funding selection criteria

To be considered for funding and support through the programme we will need to be convinced that your approach demonstrates:

  1. Capability and capacity: Skills, understanding, and demonstrable commitment to embark on challenging, innovative programmes of work.

  2. Engagement and partnerships: A demonstrable and appropriate approach to working with the community and relevant local partners

  3. Sustainability: Demonstrate potential contribution towards more financially sustainable ways of managing parks that are appropriate to local circumstances;

  4. Impact: Will create positive societal and environmental outcomes; you can clearly describe what you expect these to be and have ideas for how you will measure them.

  5. Innovation: demonstrates a new approach or repurposing of an existing approach to addressing a parks challenge.

Specific considerations for the two award streams that we are particularly keen to see:

  • For the prototyping awards, ideas should show their innovation makes a clear link between the digital or data aspect of the project and the potential impact on specific challenges that parks face. We would be interested in any additional benefits generated through taking an open source approach.

When selecting innovations, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Big Lottery Fund and Nesta aim to support a variety of parks, UK locations and applicant types.

Got a question?

Email [email protected]