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Nesta launches global innovation collaboration

Nesta launches global innovation collaboration

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Nesta has launched the Innovation Growth Lab (IGL) – the first global collaboration dedicated to uncovering, testing and sharing the best ways to accelerate innovation, entrepreneurship and growth.

The IGL will bring together researchers and public and private organisations around the world to trial different support programmes and help to make them more impactful.

Led by Nesta in partnership with the Kauffman Foundation in the US, the collaboration includes the UK’s Business, Innovation and Skills Department, Innovate UK (formerly known as the Technology Strategy Board), the Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Analysis, the Danish Business Authority, the Australian Department of Industry and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The IGL has three aims:

  • To improve the evidence base on the impact of different interventions to support innovation and business growth, creating practical insights for decision makers in public and private organisations;
  • To encourage the development of new policy interventions; testing different designs of existing programmes or experimenting with radically novel types of schemes;
  • To increase knowledge of the drivers and barriers to innovation, high-growth entrepreneurship and business growth.


Among the first questions being tested are:

  • Whether incubators (programmes aimed at accelerating the growth and success of new  companies) help start-ups survive or thrive;
  • Whether a different science campus layout makes innovation more or less likely;
  • Whether a new web platform can increase technology transfer from universities to SMEs. 


The Innovation Growth Lab is unique in that its approach will follow randomised controlled trials (RCTs) to test whether interventions are having the desired impact.

RCTs have been adopted in a number of fields such as development, health, education or social policy. But to date they have been underutilised in the area of innovation and high-growth entrepreneurship. 

Albert Bravo-Biosca, lead on the Innovation Growth Lab, said: “Every year governments around the world spend billions on policy interventions to support innovation and business growth. But we don’t really know much about how effective these are because there’s little evidence. The Innovation Growth Lab aims to contribute to fill this gap by using randomised controlled trials to find out what works and what doesn’t.”

The launch follows the funding of ten pilot research projects by Nesta and the Kauffman Foundation as part of the IGL Grants programme.

The IGL is now inviting new research proposals for the second round of the IGL Grants programme.

Applications are open until 5th January 2015 and can be made via the IGL website at: www.innovationgrowthlab.org





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