A friend of ABM has just emailed asking why all our blog posts about Nesta over the past few years have disappeared. ‘Were you threatened with legal action?’ he asks.
Legal action? No such luck. But Nesta is far from forgotten. It’s simply that when we revamped the website it wasn’t possible to automatically import previous blog posts, so we hit on the idea of bundling together all the Nesta stuff – which was spread about rather inconveniently anyway – as a downloadable PDF. It would then form a case study of what was first good, then bad, about the Nesta experiment in public sector help for inventors.
So we put it on the To Do list, where it languishes for the time being as other things have to take precedence. But it will be done, because the failure of the UK’s best-funded and most high profile invention help programme is too important to let slide.
The Nesta Invention & Innovation Programme bit the dust in 2006 but major questions remain unanswered. The biggest one is what has happened to the projects Nesta funded, especially those granted six-figure sums (sometimes more than once). The last time we looked at Nesta’s annual accounts there was no sign of a profit from any of its investments.
In particular, we’d like to know what happened to the almost £3m Nesta gave in 2008/09 to MTI Partners, a private company that invests in high technology start-ups. That’s a lot of money subsequently unaccounted for, and we’re aware of no evidence that any of it went to help inventors.
Over the years Nesta has sunk an enormous amount of money into what began as invention help but ended up in a place where helping inventors was the last thing it wanted to do. No one else seems interested in shedding light on its activities but we’ll stay on the case until we get some answers.
So more later, then.