Ten years of Nesta’s work in health

Nesta’s health work grew out of our interest in the idea that public services should work in collaboration with citizens.

Scroll through to explore our story.



The Human Factor

Our first report explained how transforming healthcare to involve the public can save money and improve lives.


Co-production reports

Nesta and the new economics foundation explored co-production - how citizens can have more equal and reciprocal relationships with public services.

The Challenge of Co-production - 2009

Co-production: Right here, Right now - 2010

Co-production catalogue - 2012



People Powered Health programme

Our flagship People Powered Health programme explored how health is more than medicine and supported some incredible teams including Ways to Wellness in Newcastle and the Lambeth Living Well Collaborative.



Impact Investments

We have invested c.£12 million into 26 health and medtech related organisations. An example is our investment into Oomph!, which was set up to help older adults lead a fuller life and runs fun exercise classes in care homes and the community. Oomph! now delivers innovative exercise classes to 7,000 older people a quarter, and takes another 6,500 for engaging trips out.



Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund

A £14 million partnership between Nesta and the Cabinet Office. Over £5.6 million was granted to 21 health-focused projects, such as MySupportBroker, Umotif and GoodGym.


Helping in Hospitals

We partnered with the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health & Social Care and worked with ten UK hospital trusts to evidence the benefits of impact volunteering in hospitals, in particular the impact on patients.



Five Year Forward View published

Our People Powered Health work influenced Chapter 2 of NHS England’s Five Year Forward View.


Longitude Prize launched

We launched a £10 million international challenge prize to find a novel, rapid, affordable diagnostic device that reduces inappropriate antibiotic prescribing.


Coalition for Collaborative Care established

Nesta was a founding partner of the Coalition for Collaborative Care, a national alliance working towards people powered health at scale. The partnership has now grown to a 60 plus strong national alliance, with members including the Royal College of General Practitioners and Richmond Group of charities.


100 Day Challenge

First pilot site in Mid Essex

Our first ever 100 Day Challenge! Working in three localities within Mid Essex, teams tested a number of ideas to improve health and care for people considered to be frail. It led to a 10-12 per cent reduction in unplanned hospital admissions and a new system-wide strategy, Livewell Mid Essex.


Realising the Value

We worked with partners to identify evidence-based approaches that engage people in their own health and care. Over 18 months we developed and tested ways to embed these approaches, creating a set of tools for national and local impact.


NHS in 2030

This report is an optimistic take on what a health system would look like in 2030 if new knowledge were used differently and more people play a role in managing health.



Smart Ageing Prize

We ran a €50,000 challenge prize for products and services that use digital technologies to support older people to participate fully in social life.

First prize was KOMP, winning €35,000 for a one-button computer designed to make communication between all generations simple.


Accelerating Ideas

A partnership with the National Lottery Community Fund to scale up eight promising ageing innovations that help people age well, feel connected to others, and take part in active, engaged local communities. This five-year, £5.5 million programme is demonstrating how high-impact volunteering, neighbourhood networks and peer support can provide the knowledge and connections that older people need to improve their health and wellbeing. Grantees include Shared Lives Plus, the Cares Family and GoodSAM.



Good and Bad Help - how purpose and confidence transform lives

This report explored the value of ‘good help’ - help that supports people to feel hopeful, identify their health goals and take action - in comparison to ‘bad help’. The report highlighted the key drivers of action and characteristics of ‘good help’, and shows how to champion it far and wide.

We ran a Good Help Award to uncover examples of ‘good help’ practice across the UK. We received an overwhelming response from over 300 applicants, of which there were 19 finalists and three winners, including Blue Marble Training.


Confronting Dr Robot

How could AI affect our experience of care and change it for the better? This report called for AI to be implemented in ways that promote patient control, accountability, simplicity of decision-making, dialogue between professionals and patients, and reduced health inequalities.


Biomedical Bubble

This report sets out why and how the UK needs to escape the biomedical bubble if it is to realise the economic, social and health potential of new investment in research and development.



NHS England Long Term Plan and Universal Personalised Care

NHS England Long Term Plan

Universal Personalised Care

For the first time what we at Nesta call ‘people powered health’ is recognised as part of the NHS operating model – a breakthrough to have our recommendations at the forefront of NHS strategy.

100 Day Challenge

100 Day Challenge - Midlothian

Our first 100 Day Challenge in Scotland focused on improving mental health and wellbeing for children and young people across Midlothian.


Social Movements for Health

A year-long programme in partnership with Dunhill Medical Trust supporting seven emerging social movements fighting to improve care, equality and justice to improve the health and wellbeing of citizens and staff.

The programme builds on previous work including a 2016 report Health as a Social Movement that set out what social movements are and how they can bring about important change in health.


Healthier Lives Data Fund

This partnership with the Scottish Government supports innovative digital technologies that make data available and useful to citizens, helping them lead healthier and more independent lives.

We will continue to work on bold ideas to create a health and care system that empowers people to lead healthier and more independent lives.

If you’d like to find out more please get in touch with us by emailing [email protected].