A £95m funding boost for the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts could herald a financial fillip for product designers.
Nesta will channel the money, coming from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, into an extension of its Invention and Innovation programme, which has already helped several designers get projects off the ground.
Anthony Pike, for instance, won £65 000 in August to develop a ‘flexible stretcher’, while John Catling scooped £5000 towards a ‘revolutionary’ bicycle seat.
Fresh initiatives are also planned, including a scheme to enable design graduates to develop their product ideas on leaving college.
Subject to parliamentary approval, Nesta will bolster its initial £200m National Lottery endowment by £50m, pushing its annual grant-making budget from £8m to £10m. The remaining £45m will be released over three years, resulting in an extra £25m of funds annually.
‘Though there is no money specifically ear-marked for any particular area, we encourage applications from designers,’ says Nesta spokesman Joe Meaney. ‘Our remit is so wide [that] we consider every idea.’
Rather than awarding grants, Nesta ‘invests’ in ideas that will provide a commercial, social or cultural return, he says.
Applications may be submitted via the organisation’s website, www.nesta.org.uk, which was relaunched last week with a makeover by Deepend spin-off Recollective.
Created by Recollective designers Frances O’Reilly and Chanuki Seresinhe, the website features a bright colour palette and extensive use of human faces to promote Nesta’s ‘people-centric’ approach (website’s home page pictured).
The consultancy began the project two months ago on the strength of a Design Museum recommendation.