Technology & Innovation

Promoting Creative Development,
The National Endowment for Science, Technology & the Arts,
NESTA (UK)

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Background

NESTA is the largest single endowment devoted exclusively to supporting talent, innovation & creativity in the UK. The organisation’s mission is to transform the UK’s capacity for innovation. They invest in early stage companies, inform innovation policy & encourage a culture that helps creativity to flourish for both economic & social benefit. They have an ambitious vision to lead the world in the application of knowledge & enterprise – transforming the UK’s capacity for innovation.

Issue

NESTA believe that the successful exploitation of new ideas is a national priority & that progress depends greatly on a country’s ability to encourage & bring new ideas to market. Solving the urgent social & environmental challenges of the 21st century will also require increasingly innovative solutions, so NESTA acts as a catalyst. Knowing Synergy Global’s passion for creativity/innovation & our extensive experience with international fellowship projects (both participating in them & mentoring research fellows & interns over the years), they approached us to speak to members of their Board, Executive, Staff & Partners, in conjunction with the UK Association of Harkness Fellows. The theme of the event was ‘Changing Places’ – the concept of international experiential learning from living & working overseas, based on David Lodge’s famous book with the same name.

Solution

Part of our philosophy is that “you can’t do things differently, until you see things differently”, & we passionately believe that international experience is one of the best ways to open one’s mind to different experiences & cultures, giving rise to more creative ideas for lifelong learning. The Changing Places Event was held at NESTA in Oct 2005 & well evaluated by participants – as a result we were approached to help them with some international mentorship of grantees on travelling fellowships.

Outcome

Being a publicly funded endowment makes NESTA unique. As a result, they can take informed risks when others may hold back. They are interested in the potential, sustainability & growth of a business or model, not just quick returns; Synergy Global has offered to partner with them, helping them make further connections/relationships that can support UK innovation & development globally. We are used to working in a multidisciplinary way, with those in policy & ‘creatives’, as well as partnering with those using new media networks to bring innovation to fruition. In the last UK financial year (Apr 2006 - Mar 2007) NESTA invested almost £18m (from their endowed funds of £300m) backing promising ideas & funding new ventures.

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