NESTA: Bright Ideas Research Fund

The Bright Ideas Research Fund from NESTA is looking for interesting research projects and policy proposals in fields that relate to innovation but where they do not have big programmes already in place.

Funding Body: NESTA

Scheme: Bright Ideas Research Fund

Overview: They are looking to fund good new ideas relating to innovation and innovation policy. This could include the development of a new idea about how innovation happens, a pamphlet making an interesting and compelling argument relating to innovation, an examination of a new innovation or technology, or a worked-up, evidenced proposal for a policy related to innovation.

Projects can involve primary research, novel argumentation, or the development of a new idea, or ideally more than one of these things. They should be carefully and rigorously carried out, and should stand up to scrutiny. The end product should be written in an accessible style, suitable for a non-specialist reader.

Their website has an extensive list of fields which they are particularly interested in, so we would recommend taking a look at this.

Budget: They will fund up to £10,000.

Deadlines: This call is an ongoing fund. They review applications on a regular basis. The next review date is 6 June followed by 24 October.

Further Information:


Policy & Research Small Grants Open Call



Nesta have launched a New small grants fund they want to find new ideas and foster collaboration with a wide array of organisations so a open call has been launched where up to ten projects in total will be funded across the year. The maximum budget is 10k and examples of expected projects are:

  • primarily research-based
  • developing a paper
  • a proof of concept
  • policy idea.

 NESTA research themes

  • Development and application of innovative methods for understanding innovation
  • Using big data or open data to understand innovation
  • Mapping and analysing new trends in social, business or technological innovation
  • Public policies to promote innovation
  • Adoption of innovation in public services
  • Innovation in emerging economies

 To find out more click on this link –


Funding for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Growth research

Grants for innovation, entrepreneurship and growth experiments

Nesta have launched a call for proposals for “experimental research that provides evidence on the best approaches to increase innovation, support high-growth entrepreneurship and accelerate business growth”.  

The scheme is looking to fund a range of approaches through randomized control trials. Example activities provided include models of technology transfer from universities, different approaches to managing and stimulating innovation, networks and collaboration, open innovation, innovative procurement, amongst others.  The call documents highlight economic and social entrepreneurship and return on investment will be supported.

Given our University research and HEIF expertise we expect a lot of interest in this call so please contact if you are interested to ensure we have a coordinated approach. 

The call deadline is 24th February with further details at


NESTA – Impact Investments

NESTA the innovation funder has a number of open funding opportunities. One of these is the Impact Investment Awards. They aim to bring about positive outcomes for people, communities and society as a whole, as well as providing financial returns for investors.

Impact investment is needed to fund the creation of new innovations and to support their testing and development. It also allows the best ones to scale up and change the world. This is as true of innovation that seek to achieve social impact as it is of those motivated by creating financial value.

In particular, NESTA are seeking innovations that have a positive impact on:

  • the health and wellbeing of an ageing population;
  • the educational attainment and employability of children and young people; and
  • the social and environmental sustainability of communities.
This is a open call and has a rolling deadline. To find out more please visit the WEBLINK

NESTA – Digital makers fund

Image of Digital Makers homepage


The digital makers fund is about getting 1000’s of young people involved in making digital activities. Something we seem pretty well placed to do as a university.

 NESTA expect successful initiatives will use young people’s existing interests, passions and pastimes as a gateway to digital making, inspiring young people to become creators, not just users of digital technologies. NESTA are looking for applications from organisations, or partnerships between organisations, that have the capacity to engage thousands of young people in digital making activities.

Further details:

  • Use different interests and content to reach new audiences – how can digital making tie in with music, fashion, sport, film or brands that will inspire young people to participate?
  • The ‘making’ element is important. NESTA want ideas that lead participants to the creation of a digital product that they can show to and share with others.
  • NESTA are interested in reaching different networks and communities for learning – youth clubs, libraries, after school clubs, interest groups and social networks speak to thousands of young people every day. How can they integrate digital making into their activities?

NESTA take a broad view of digital making that encompasses 3D printing and physical computing, as well as coding and programming, and want to work with partners who are noisy advocates for the importance of digital making; who will use all the channels available to them to shout about and promote their projects.

Deadline: 14 November 2013

Grants between £20,000 and £50,000

How can big data be used in Arts and Humanities?


We are seeing a range of funding bodies offer opportunities for researchers to work with Big Data, with two current calls seeking to address how this can most effectively be used within Arts and Humanities. Big data is information resources which are so large that they exceed the capacity of commonly used software and analysis tools, so new approaches and methodologies have to be developed to analyse them.  Big data is a challenge across all research disciplines, from the Large Hadron Collider to British Library archives and poses new legal and ethical challenges in its use.

The AHRC has a £4 million pot to explore Big Data as part of their Digital Transformations on the Arts and Humanities theme, with a closing date of 12th September.  There are two different scales of projects that will be supported, those up to £100K and those up to £600k.  For funding of up to £100k, pilot projects looking at innovative uses of existing datasets are sought; with early career researchers in particular being encouraged.  For the larger projects more in depth approaches are sought.  Collaborations and interdisciplinary investigations are encouraged across both strands, with British Library and National Archives offering to consider access to materials.

Nesta also has a specific Big Data strand under its Collaborative R&D Fund for the Arts.  This funding stream will support partnership applications involving a consortium of 3 arts organisations, a technology partner and a research partner. Friday 13th September is the deadline for expressions of interest, for projects up to £300k.

Please contact if you are interested. Further information: AHRC and  Digital R&D funding for the Arts

Household Solutions to Managing Energy Supply

NESTA has launched a fund which may be of interest to researchers involved in measuring energy usage. The funding hopes to shift electricity demand to off peak times or make better use of renewable energy generation.

They are keen to see projects that are innovative. If you are awarded the funding you need the capacity to build a prototype or service blue print for your idea.

Funding Body: NESTA
Scheme: Dynamic Demand Challenge Prize
Overview: This competition aims to create a new product, technology or service that uses data to significantly improve the ability of households or small businesses to demonstrate measurable reduction in carbon emissions by shifting energy demand to off-peak times or towards excess renewable generation. Solutions should have commercial market potential.
The competition is open to anyone in the EU. SMEs, charities, NGOs, community groups, developers, engineers, students and sustainability and energy professionals are encouraged to apply. Applicants may submit up to three entries. The prize is worth £50,000.
Deadlines: 9 September 2013
Further Information:


New Fund for Todays Biggest Problems

A new fund launched recently by the Prime Minister will provide money for researchers to solve a range of issues which of importance to the public.

The prize was launched as a celebration of the 300th anniversary since the Longitude Prize was won by watch make John Harrison with the invention of the chronometer. The invention changed ocean going navigation forever, by making it possible to work out where you were at sea even when the sun or stars we not visible.

The new prize, which will be run by NESTA, is hoping to follow in these steps by getting the public to vote for some of today’s biggest problems and then providing funding to solve them.

Further information on the prizes will be launched in the coming months


NESTA: Mapping the Start up Acceleration Landscape

NESTA funding to look at the success of acceleration start ups. This has been sent out by email to the CABR ARC, but is on the blog in case there are any other academics who may be interested in the research area.

It is a short deadline, 1 July, and they ideally want to see some money brought to the project, so it is not a hot fund. But just in case the details are below

Funding body: NESTA

Scheme: Analysis and evaluation of startup acceleration in Europe.

Overview: Research will support Nesta in developing a series of projects, mapping the startup acceleration landscape, analysing methods and models of support and measuring their causal effect on startup performance, as well as on the local ecosystem in which they operate. Proposals may address one or more of the following topics:

•mapping the development of Startup Factories in Europe;

•a series of detailed case studies on state-of-the-art support methods and interventions employed by such accelerator programmes;

•measuring the effectiveness of accelerators;

•network analysis;

•corporate incubation and corporate venturing.

Deadlines: 01 July 2013

Budget: The overall budget for this call is £75,000. Nesta particularly welcomes projects that involve co-funding by other organisations and partnerships with other organisations providing access to valuable data sets, as well as those that aim to open up research and data publicly.


NESTA’s new Social Innovation Fund

The Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund is a £14 million Fund to support the growth of innovations that mobilise people’s energy and talents to help each other, working alongside public services. This fund is an open call and will be here for two years, so even if you don’t have a project now, make a note of it for future reference.

Funding Body: NESTA

Fund: The Centre for Social Innovation Fund

Overview: As part of the Cabinet Office Centre for Social Action, Nesta will run a £14 million Innovation Fund.

We will provide financial and non-financial support to help grow the impact and reach of innovations that mobilise people’s energy and talents to help each other, working alongside public services.

Over the next two years the ambition is to:

Find innovations that harness different types of social action to make a positive difference across a range of outcomes

Support the most promising innovations to have more impact, including building evidence of what works

Enable a small number of proven innovations to achieve impact at significant scale, by reaching and benefiting many more people

The Innovation Fund will focus on a small number of big social challenges, like helping older people to age well or supporting young people to get into work, where there is a plausible account of how social action can make a difference and is under-exploited by the existing approach of public services.

Current priorities

  • Helping people to age well, particularly by supporting people over 50 to have a purpose, a sense of well-being and to be connected to others
  • Enabling people with long-term health conditions to have a better quality of life, particularly through the use of peer to peer networks and groups
  • Supporting and encouraging young people to succeed and find employment, for example through mentoring, coaching, and peer-to-peer networks

Using new approaches to “impact volunteering” to mobilise volunteers to increase and enhance the outcomes achieved by public services

Budget: £50,000 to £500,000 to individual ventures or programmes, funding usually needs to be matched from other sources.

Deadlines: Open call, just fill in an expression of interest form on the website