Bayes Centre

Nesta case study

We sat down with Nesta in Scotland and asked them to chat about Nesta, the challenges it faces and the opportunities on the horizon.

Nesta Scotland Logo

Can you give us a quick overview of Nesta?

Nesta is a global innovation foundation based in the UK. Nesta's priority fields of work are: health, education, government innovation, the creative economy, and innovation policy. Working across these priority areas, we want to bring bold ideas to life that change Scotland for good. We use methods such as: Social innovation labs, Future-scoping, Anticipatory regulation, Innovation grant management, Challenge prizes, Citizen engagement, Innovation mapping, and Policy and research.


What problems are Nesta trying to solve, any examples of progress to date?

We are particularly interested in the potential of digital and data-driven innovation to help tackle some of the big social challenges facing Scotland today. Our current work in Scotland includes:

Innovation Mapping - We are mapping innovation in Scotland with new data sources and methods. This will result in new indicators, an interactive tool, source code and data.

ShareLab Fund - A partnership with Scottish Government to explore how collaborative digital platforms can be used to create positive social impact in innovative, scalable ways. Supporting early stage projects to tackle challenges around sustainable energy, resources and transport; focusing on the most vulnerable consumers.

Healthier Lives Data Fund - A partnership between Nesta and the Scottish Government to support innovative digital technologies that make data available and useful to citizens, helping them lead healthier and more independent lives. Six projects have been funded up to £30,000 with follow-on funding available.

100 Day Challenge Midlothian - Working directly with young people and front-line staff across a range of services to improve children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing in Midlothian using our 100 day challenge methodology.


What are your thoughts about the company's vision and direction, and your role in helping to achieve them?

Nesta backs new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time; that means working hard to: see new opportunities and challenges; spark creative answers from many sources; shape these into forms that can work in practice; and then shift whole systems in a new direction. We aim to do this through: our priority fields, research and explorations, growing more autonomous units, innovation methods, communications, and continuing to become more rigorous in assessing both the direct and indirect impact of what we do.


What are the biggest challenges on the horizon for Nesta?

The biggest challenge for Nesta in Scotland is supporting effective social innovation in a context of squeezed budgets for public services and risk aversion to new approaches. 


What are your goals for the next 6-12 months for Nesta?

Having recently agreed a strategic MoU between Nesta and the Scottish Government, we want to work in partnership across local and national government to bring new ideas to life to tackle the big social challenges facing Scotland in the 21st century.


When you tell people about your job and Nesta, what's one thing that surprises them, or gets them excited about the work you do?

People are surprised to hear we have a team based in Scotland!


Is there a way people can get involved with Nesta's work?

Subscribe to our Nesta in Scotland newsletter or contact us via 


Nesta Testimonial