To win, Nesta must dare to fail

July 30, 1999

If the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts is to succeed overall, it must dare to fail on specific projects. So recommended the House of Commons select committee on science and technology last week.

Nesta was set up using Pounds 200 million from the National Lottery and will award about Pounds 10 million a year. It supports collaborations between artists and scientists, gives fellowships to talented individuals and provides funds to turn ideas into products.

"Nesta will have to take risks with its selection of individuals to be nurtured and ideas to be exploited," stated the committee report.

When selecting fellows, Nesta must receive close scrutiny. "It must be able to demonstrate that it is operating in a fair and open manner," the committee report added.

However, the government should not scrutinise Nesta's operational cost efficiency too closely, the committee recommended. Instead it should evaluate Nesta over the long term, looking at its output and value for money.

In order to succeed, Nesta "must adopt an extremely strategic approach to its activities, constantly seeking out areas where it can really add value", the committee added.

"Nesta's desire to promote a 'can do' attitude is welcome and refreshing," it concluded.

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