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.

Funding Innovation: A practice guide

In this practice guide, we summarise what we’ve learned about how to use money effectively to support innovation. We set out the many options available to funders, and provide practical advice on how to choose the right financial approach.

Key points

  • This guide shares our practical knowledge on the financial tools we use and how we design and run funds to help you think about how they might work in your own context.
  • It is primarily aimed at funders – governments, agencies, investment organisations and foundations who provide funding for projects or organisations to support innovation.
  • It features the key financial tools we have used to achieve results - including equity, loans and social impact bonds (collectively called impact investment), challenge prizes, grants and crowdfunding.

Over the years we have experimented with many different ways of using money as we’ve backed thousands of innovators in public services, charities and social business.

Most funders tend to stick to just one or two approaches, and never seriously consider using other ones that could make their money go further. Our hope is that this guide goes further in helping to encourage more creative thinking about how to use funds to achieve objectives, as well as greater awareness of how to fit the right funding tool to the right goals.