Select Committee on Science and Technology Sixth Report



Provision of Information

1.  Annual Reports should not read like the production notes in a theatre programme. Creativity should not be at the expense of clarity. We recommend that NESTA in future provide Annual Reports which contain clear and full information on expenditure, including awards made; the targets; and expenditure plans (paragraph 8).

2.  We urge NESTA to make greater use of its website in conveying important information to those seeking to evaluate its work (paragraph 9).

Invention and Innovation

3.  We are encouraged to see that NESTA's Invention and Innovation programme has produced its first commercial success. We hope that it will continue to see a return on its investment as projects come to fruition and recommend NESTA state clearly in its annual reports the level of return it achieves (paragraph 13).

4.  We encourage NESTA to continue to take chances with its Invention and Innovation projects (paragraph 14).


5.  There is a risk that targets might lead to the appointment of NESTA Fellows for the sake of it (paragraph 17).

6.  We urge NESTA to identify the objectives of the Fellowships, and the basis of its monitoring and assessment of them, and to carry out an appraisal of its Fellowship programme once the first awards are completed (paragraph 18).


7.  NESTA's Education programme appears to have found a niche in an overcrowded market and we are pleased to hear of its successes. We recommend that NESTA take steps to ensure that it is not funding projects which could be better funded by others (paragraph 20).

8.  NESTA covers science, technology and the arts. We recommend that NESTA give close attention to the distribution of its awards between those sectors as well as the quantity (paragraph 22).

Nomination of Fellows

9.  We understand that NESTA's nomination system is designed to avoid a flood of applications which could overload its administrative capabilities. We have not heard any evidence of problems with applications to NESTA's Fellowship programme but we are nevertheless concerned that it lays the organisation open to accusations of networking or favouritism. Those who are not working in areas which have a nominator appointed within it, or do not move in the same circles, may not be given access to a Fellowship. We recommend a rethink of this system to ensure it does not discriminate against any suitable candidates (paragraph 25).

Science Year

10.  We recommend a thorough analysis of Planet Science [Science Year] be carried out as soon as practicable, and an assessment of its impact in the media and in schools made to inform future projects of this nature (paragraph 28).


11.  We recommend that NESTA be clearer in its terminology when presenting financial information (paragraph 29).

12.  We are disturbed at NESTA's lack of clarity surrounding its programme expenditure. We expect the next Annual Report to provide reliable figures, making it clear what has actually been spent and what is an estimate (paragraph 30).

13.  We understand that NESTA may have faced high operating costs during its development. Nevertheless we hope to see administration decreasing as a percentage of NESTA's income in the future. We also urge NESTA to make a realistic estimate of its staffing needs in order to minimise the amount spent on agency staff and permit accurate financial planning (paragraph 31).


14.  We believe it is premature for NESTA to request a significant increase in its endowment. First it must better demonstrate its cost-effectiveness and be clear about how it would use its extra funds. It is a bit rich for an organisation getting 8 million a year to distribute in grants and bursaries, to go asking for more, when it is unable to maintain a clear grasp of how much it is spending and on what (paragraph 34).


15.  We urge NESTA to make efforts to raise its profile by ensuring that it has made itself better known to all relevant organisations and higher education institutions (paragraph 35).


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