Investigative piece release by TFS

The funding of innovation activities and new business models are imperative in an ever-increasing complex world. Changing the game is not easy and money is scarce, yet innovation often requires substantial investment upfront.

Diligently managed funding efforts help entrepreneurs and organisations effectively capitalise on promising innovation opportunities. 

Limited cash and a dire need for innovation in uncertain times, however, make it important for innovation funding models to work as they should. The funding process and outcomes of investment funding should ultimately support the delivery of innovation and be transparently and effectively applied. It should also beyond any doubt, enable the objectives intended in the interest of growth, value, speed to market and impact.  

Future Shaping Investigations: Our first investigative journalism piece

At the Future Shapers our raison d’être or ikigai is “Returning value back to knowledge” Our ambition is: to permanently pioneer…

…the protection and value of digital content for its creators.

…the drive for fairness in the exchange and consumption of digital content.

…the use of technology to increase integrity, ownership, trust and value of digital content 

We believe this also relates to the stories and content we publish. As such we are launching our “Investigations” where we explore important topics and ask sometimes uncomfortable questions in the innovation space. 

Our first investigative piece puts the spotlight on innovation funding. It gets under the bonnet of important issues and finds that some of the major funding agencies are not averse to chumocracy and cronyism.

It is called “Breaking the news, Nesta’s great innovation robbery” and will be published here tomorrow.

What is going on?

Falling circulations and publisher revenues, ongoing closures of local newspapers, losses of journalist jobs and the rise of “fake news” and Brexit, led to the UK government asking Dame Frances Cairncross to undertake a review into the sustainability of high-quality journalism in the UK. 

One recommendation made by the resulting report was to launch a new fund focussed on innovations to the supply of public-interest news. In 2020 NESTA was appointed to manage this fund, called The Future News Fund, although no procurement process was followed to transparently deal with and explain this decision.

It also seems that much more went on than what meets the eye as questionable fund allocation, conflict of interest and the self-serving of various member’s interests seems to be rampant, all the while negatively impacting the intended purpose of the fund and its objectives.   

Who is Nesta?     

Nesta, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts present themselves as the UK’s innovation agency for social good.  They are widely considered to be the largest non-governmental innovation agency in the UK.

Why innovation robbery? 

An investigation into the activities and general dealings of managing the fund has revealed some serious concerns. TFS has question marks on some of the following issues, which points to: 

  • Chumocracy and non-charitable work with conflicts of interest on the side   
  • Misreporting and non-allocation of funds
  • Pure profiteering and a 
  • Final cover-up

Before publishing this piece TFS shared it with the UK’s House of Lords parliamentary communication and digital committee, and Nesta. Up to the date of publication, no comments were received. Another attempt would be made to get responses from all interested parties this week, which we will publish on 20 May 2021.  

Keep an eye out for the story being published tomorrow.