Nesta Cymru moves to Cardiff University’s new social science campus as she unveils 10-year strategy


UK innovation agency Nesta has moved its Welsh operations to Cardiff University’s new social science campus as it focuses on a 10-year strategy to tackle some of society’s biggest problems, from decarbonization to inequality.

Nesta, an independent, endowment-funded charity, works with partners in academia and the public, private and third sectors to design, test and scale new ideas. Its three missions are to give every child a healthy start, to help people live healthy lives, and to create a sustainable future where the economy works for both people and the planet.

Nesta Cymru’s team of 13 co-located alongside 400 social scientists at Cardiff University’s newly opened sbarc/spark building – having been based close to Park Place.

Previously, Nesta worked in Wales with Cardiff University to establish the Y Lab for Utility Innovation and continues to manage two ongoing programs. With the Arts Council of Wales, he is exploring how the arts and creativity can be used to improve the health and well-being of people and the healthcare system.

The second explores how to build skills and capacities for future innovative public services, run by Infuse which is funded by the Welsh European Funding Office.

The Nesta team is currently developing and delivering mission-driven work unique to Wales, finding places where decentralization allows the organization to go further and faster in achieving its goals.

Over the next 12 months, the team of experts will work with partners on innovations around:

  • Decarbonizing homes in Wales and increasing access to heat pumps.
  • Work with children and parents to reduce the equality gaps that appear at age 5.
  • Improve the nutritional value of school meals and the availability of healthy food options in urban and rural areas.

Nesta Cymru was one of the first organizations to move into the new university building, which was built around collaboration. Other non-university tenants include the Institute of Welsh Affairs.

Rob Ashelford, Director of Nesta Cymru, said: “We in Wales are in a unique position to shape policy and work with industry to address societal issues that affect almost every household.

“Reducing carbon emissions from our homes, creating healthier food environments and ensuring all children have a good start in life benefits us all and we are excited about how we can make a difference in Wales.

“Our work is rooted in innovation – finding the spaces where we need new ideas and approaching them with creativity and rigor, leveraging cutting-edge methods.

“Entering this collaborative and inspiring space as we accelerate our missions is perfect timing. Over the next year, we will explore more opportunities to design and test solutions in our areas of focus, working with partners to shape policy and create opportunities to scale new ideas that have proven themselves.


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