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.

Ready or not: Taking innovation in the public sector seriously

This report shows how government and public services need to innovate to better serve the public.

This report shows how government and public services need to innovate to better serve the public. 

Key findings:

  • Public innovation cannot be simply institutionalised or planned. But there are many things that governments can do to improve the chances of new ideas creating value for the public.
  • The government can do more to cultivate and scan the hinterlands from which new ideas will come like recruiting innovators and deliberately designigning and testing new ideas.
  • Governments need to learn a new set of skills – how to innovate and serve the public, not only by being competent in the present, but also by being ready for the future.

The public sector is often poor at innovation from within and poor at learning from outside. It contains many innovative people but isn’t good at harnessing their talents and imagination.


Governments and agencies around the world are now experimenting with putting this right. They are feeling their way to new structures, and new ways of organising money, people and knowledge. They are learning to innovate both from the inside out and from the outside in. 


When public organisations take innovation seriously, they return to the underlying motivations of public service: – not only about doing good but about striving to do better.

Geoff Mulgan


Geoff Mulgan

Geoff Mulgan

Geoff Mulgan

Chief Executive Officer

Geoff Mulgan was Chief Executive of Nesta from 2011-2019.

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