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Sunday, 18. August 2019  

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The Lab: innovating public services

Man in wheelchair

The economic and social challenges facing us are increasing and complex. 

The impact of a serious recession, 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 from education to welfare – are simply not set up to cope with the scale of the challenge or the pace of change.

Fresh thinking is urgently needed. We can't continue to tinker at the edges, particularly in the face of increasingly constrained public spending.

Our ability to innovate will determine our ability to deliver better services for less money and build a more sustainable society.

 We all need to be prepared to think differently and to question our assumptions and expectations about the ways our needs are met. We need to be prepared to embrace new solutions. 

Government alone can’t provide the answers. So NESTA 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.

You do the thinking - we’ll help put it into practice

We want The Lab to give people the freedom, the capital and the expertise to help them undertake radical experiments. We’re even prepared to embrace failure. After all, we need to know what doesn’t work as well as what does.

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 problems together.

This is how The Lab works: we find ideas, test them and then roll them out to the wider world.

  • Challenge Lab: explores new ideas to help services respond to critical social issues, starting with climate change, health and ageing.
  • Methods Lab: puts radical thinking into action. Where we test and assess the best ways of fostering public service innovation.
  • Learning Lab: finds new ways to make practical, sustainable use of what we learn.

We want the UK to excel at solving critical social problems. By creating experiments that demonstrate how public services can be transformed we believe The Lab can start to make life better for everyone. 


Learn how NESTA's Lab is testing new forms of radical innovation in public service delivery, in this Guardian supplement.







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