13 March 2009

NESTA launches innovation lab to improve UK public services

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putting people first
by experientia

The Lab
NESTA, the UK’s National Endowment for Science, Technology, and the Arts, has set up The Lab, a new UK innovation structure that will bring together all the players across public service delivery to “come up with fresh ideas and radical thinking to deliver better public services for significantly less”.

From a NESTA press release:

“The Lab is a trailblazing response to the increasing and complex challenges that society is facing. Economic turbulence, environmental threats and our rapidly ageing population are triggering profound changes to the way we all live and work. But our public services – from health to transport and education – are simply not set up to cope with the scale of the challenge or the pace of change. Fresh thinking is urgently needed.

Our ability to innovate will determine our ability to deliver better services for less money and build a more sustainable society. Government alone can’t provide the answers. So NESTA, following a request from the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills in its ‘Innovation Nation’ white paper, has created the Lab to meet this need for bold new ideas that work. By bringing together experience and ingenuity from across the public, private and third sectors, and drawing on the insights of citizens and consumers, the Lab plays a vital role in making public services fit for the 21st century.

The Lab is not a physical space or an institution – it’s a series of practical projects, informed by research and delivered in partnership with those that run and use our public services. It shares lessons about what works – and what doesn’t – and creates opportunities for people to solve these together. It provides the freedom, flexible capital and expertise to undertake radical experiments. It tests out new ways of finding and spreading the best ideas – this might be by running a challenge prize, building a social ventures incubator, or creating powerful new teams of users, front-line staff and decision-makers.”

Age Unlimited, the Lab’s first major new programme, aims to strengthen the hand of agencies committed to bringing creative responses to bear. Launching April 21st, the programme will centre on practical experiments to help employers better meet the needs and interests of older workers, to trial a new range of services to help individuals ready themselves for later life, to smooth transitions from working life to alternatives, and to re-cast ageing in ways that are compelling.

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