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.

Reimagining the Internet

The Nesta-led NGI Forward project is tasked with helping the European Commission set out a strategy and vision for its ambitious Next Generation Internet initiative. We are excited to release this new, in-depth working paper, which articulates a clear European vision for a more democratic, resilient, sustainable, trustworthy and inclusive internet by 2030 and identifies the concrete building blocks – policy interventions and technological solutions – that might help get us there.

The global pandemic has provided us with a unique opportunity to press pause and reassess our priorities in the increasingly wrought digital sphere. During this time of great uncertainty, rapid change and moving goalposts, we urgently need a coherent and shared European vision which outlines a common set of goals for the future internet, and steers Europe’s recovery towards meaningfully addressing the twin challenge of greening and digitally transforming our economies.

The European Union has in recent years flexed its muscles internationally as a regulatory superpower, but cannot achieve strategic autonomy and internet sovereignty without also building actual alternative solutions and proactively shaping the development of new innovation.

That is why this working paper sets out the following five tangible missions Europe should embrace if it wants to reestablish itself as a values-led leader in the global innovation arms race:

  1. We democratise the internet by giving citizens control over their data and future trajectory of innovation, and create a single market for ethical data use and technology worth 1 trillion Euros by 2030.
  2. We build internet infrastructure and systems that can withstand environmental, economic and cyber shocks, and strengthen our role as a global champion of good governance and the open internet.
  3. We move to a fully circular and carbon-neutral economy for digital technology by 2030, strengthening the joint objectives of Europe’s twin green and digital transition.
  4. We establish a globally known brand for trustworthy and privacy-preserving technology, and play a leadership role in ensuring citizens around the world have access to trustworthy technology, data and information flows.
  5. By 2030, all Europeans can meaningfully access and participate in shaping the internet.

The paper also proposes a wide range of actions that need to be implemented in tandem if we want to achieve our ambitious mission of building a more democratic and resilient future internet, some of which are summarised in our recent blog Reassessing the great unwinding. Given the complexity and interconnectedness of the challenges we face on the internet, a holistic approach is necessary.

NGI Forward acts as the policy and strategy arm of the European Commission’s flagship Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative, which sets out to build a more human-centric internet by the end of the decade. More information about the project can be found on the NGI Forward project’s dedicated website.


Katja Bego

Katja Bego

Katja Bego

Principal Researcher, Next Generation Internet

Katja Bego was Principal Researcher and data scientist in Nesta’s technology futures and explorations team.

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