Select Committee on Science and Technology Sixth Report


The Science and Technology Committee has agreed to the following Report:







NESTA and the National Lottery Act 1998

  1.  In 1997, the White Paper The People's Lottery set out the case for an organisation which would identify and foster innovation and creativity, in order to develop and commercialise original artistic and technological ideas. The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) was set up under the National Lottery Act 1998. Under the provisions of the Act, NESTA's objective is to "support and promote talent, innovation and creativity in the fields of science, technology and the arts":[1]

  • by helping talented individuals or groups in the fields of science, technology and the arts to realise their potential;

  • by helping to turn inventions or ideas in these fields into products and services which can be effectively exploited and the rights to which can be effectively protected; and

  • by contributing to public knowledge and appreciation of science, technology and the arts.[2]


Funding and status

  1.  Funding for NESTA took the form of a one-off endowment of 200 million, derived from the profits of the National Lottery. In 1998, this was expected to provide NESTA with an annual income of around 12 million.
  2.  NESTA was launched on 30 June 1999; its programmes became active in December 1999. It is an executive non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. NESTA is governed by a board of up to thirteen trustees, which meets five times a year, chaired by Lord Puttnam of Queensgate. The staff are led by Jeremy Newton, the Chief Executive. NESTA's core work comprises three distinct programmes: Invention and Innovation; Fellowships; and Education.

    Our inquiry

  4.  Our predecessor Science and Technology Committee reported on NESTA in 1999, shortly after NESTA announced its first schemes.[3] The Committee welcomed NESTA and urged it to take a strategic approach to its activities. It encouraged NESTA to take a high risk approach and suggested that NESTA should be evaluated over the long term "on a basis of output and value for money rather than operational cost efficiency".[4] As NESTA approached its first quinquennial review, we decided to follow up that Report and examine NESTA's progress.
  5.  Lord Puttnam of Queensgate, Chair of NESTA, Mr Jeremy Newton, Chief Executive and Mr Mike Tomlinson, Director of Science Year and Education Committee member, appeared before us on 8 July 2002. We received written memoranda from NESTA and also the British Antarctic Survey and Braunarts; the Arts and Humanities Research Board; the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council; the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society. We are grateful to all those who provided evidence to us and especially to our specialist adviser Professor Michael Elves, former Director of the Office of Scientific and Educational Affairs, Glaxo Wellcome plc.


1   National Lottery Act 1998, section 17 (1) Back

2   National Lottery Act 1998, section 17 (2) Back

3   The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, Second Report of the Science and Technology Committee, Session 1998-99, HC 472 (hereafter HC 472) Back

4   HC 472, para 9 Back

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