Lucky seven win a Nesta egg for arts and science

July 2, 1999

Seven projects won the first ever grants from Nesta, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, this week, writes Alison Goddard.

Nesta, which was set up using Pounds 200 million from the National Lottery, will award about Pounds 10 million a year.

The projects, which will receive Pounds 500,000 in total this time, include an outreach programme between the University of Cambridge and the London Borough of Brent, a performing arts lab that will give choreographers the opportunity to work with other artists, and a project to develop a computer game designed to appeal to girls.

Giles Revell, who uses a scanning electron microscope and a computer to create three-dimensional images of objects such as beetles, will also receive funding.

Money will be spent on a programme to encourage young engineers to turn ideas into products, a collaboration to create works of art while investigating the underlying science and a study of superconducting quantum interference devices that could revolutionise electronics.

Sci-art, a consortium including the Wellcome Trust that brings together artists and scientists, was also an award winner.

A Nesta spokeswoman said: "Nesta's core task is to identify and develop British creativity, inventiveness and innovation. To achieve this, we will provide individually tailored packages of support. But individuals work in a cultural context, too. So we will be spreading the word and developing innovative education projects as a contribution to shaping a culture where creativity can thrive."

The seven pilot projects are the result of speculative applications. Nesta intends to launch a formal bidding process shortly and aims to support between 50 and 100 projects at between Pounds 5,000 and Pounds 50,000 each.

In August, Nesta will launch a fellowship scheme. Fellows will be nominated by senior figures in the arts and sciences, and funded to the tune of Pounds 25,000 to Pounds 75,000 over three to five years.

The money will include spending on equipment, but fellows will not be expected to devote themselves full-time to Nesta. Between 25 and 50 fellowships will be funded each year, including talented people of all ages at different stages of their careers, said a spokesperson.

Nesta plans to back some 15 major collaborations in education. It wants to explore how science, technology and the arts can combine to influence education policy and culture.

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