ShareLab Fund Expression of Interest


ShareLab Fund aims to support early stage organisations to develop and apply collaborative digital platforms to tackle real world challenges is launching a new call. Grants of £15,000 – £30,000 are available.


In last year’s fund, ShareLab Fund worked in partnership with eight pilot projects, which focused on areas as broad as sharing community spaces to helping the homeless.


What is the ShareLab Fund?

The ShareLab Fund was established in 2016 to grow evidence and understanding of how collaborative digital platforms can deliver positive social impact. To date, most applications of collaborative digital platforms have been driven by the corporate world – and especially by Silicon Valley – in for-profit business models. We believe there is potential for some of the characteristics of those platforms, such as enabling new ways to find and mobilise assets, time, skills, money, resources and people, to be directed specifically towards addressing social needs.


The ShareLab Fund aims to test this hypothesis by supporting early stage organisations to develop and apply collaborative digital platforms to tackle real world challenges that deliver positive social impact.

What is meant by collaborative digital platform: A web based digital tool, such as an app or a website, that helps find, connect or mobilise assets, time, skills, money, resources or people


This year’s fund theme: Prevention


Recognising the intense pressure on local authorities and other public sector organisations, people with ideas for how collaborative digital platforms can help relieve pressure on existing local public services are invited to express their interest. These ideas might be focused on preventing social problems from starting, from growing worse, or from creating follow-on needs.

Example areas might include:


  • Connecting the elderly
  • Addressing transport poverty
  • Sharing community resources
  • Reducing waste and improving sustainability
  • Supporting communities to help themselves
  • Supporting people with low-level care needs
  • Encouraging children to learn and play
  • Addressing anxiety and mental health issues in young people
  • Tackling homelessness


Grants between £15,000 – £30,000 are given to organisations who best meet the criteria (see below), and who wish to test an innovative idea, or move from prototype to pilot.

Nesta’s grant funds can be used to cover:


  • Direct project costs
  • Related staff costs
  • Learning and development / user research


Non-financial support is also offered, in the form of:

  • Providing mentorship and advice to develop and grow the idea
  • Helping to identify local authorities or other community partners who may be willing to support a pilot
  • Accessing other funding opportunities
  • Criteria for Expressions of Interest (EOIs)


To be considered, ideas submitted in EOIs must:

Make use of a collaborative digital platform, broadly defined as: “a web based digital tool, such as an app or a website, that helps find, connect or mobilise assets, time, skills, money, resources or people to address a social challenge.”


Clearly demonstrate the ability to contribute to the aim of prevention: directly or indirectly preventing problems from starting, growing worse, or creating follow-on needs.


Focus on areas of prevention that are likely to help relieve pressure on existing local public services provided by local authorities or other public sector organisations.



  • Applications demonstrating some or all of these characteristics will be favoured:
  • Have the potential to be conducted or tested in partnership with local authorities or other public sector organisations.
  • Outline a plausible route to becoming financially sustainable.
  • Explore innovative forms of operating / ownership that spread benefits widely.


As a social innovation charity, Nesta will not be able to fund ideas that:

  • Are likely to increase inequality or exclusion, or otherwise have a harmful or detrimental effect on individuals.
  • Are not likely to benefit the public, or a sufficient portion of the public. We cannot support ideas that are solely or predominantly for the personal or private benefit of an individual or organisation.



Anyone may submit an idea to the ShareLab Fund, even if they are not in a position to develop it themselves. However, to take things further, they will need to be able to receive funds through a legally incorporated body such as a company, charitable incorporated organisation or similar, which is registered in the UK.


How to apply

Phase 1 – Submit an idea

We invite you to submit your Expression of Interest (EOI) by 5 January 2018. You will need to fill out a short questionnaire to explain your idea.


Phase 2 – Development workshop and webinar

Nesta will shortlist the ideas with greatest potential and host a workshop to develop them on 22 January 2018 at Nesta’s offices at 58 Victoria Embankment, London. Selected applicants will meet with Nesta mentors and external advisors to review and iterate the ideas together. The aim is to create connections between applicants and improve all the ideas. Those who cannot make this workshop will need to join a webinar covering the same content on 23 January 2018.

Those who have joined the workshop or webinar will then be invited to submit full applications, with funding requests of £15,000 – £30,000. The deadline for the full applications will be 5 February 2018.


Phase 3 – Selection and awards

A panel of experts will review the full applications to determine which will receive funding. Beyond the requirement to meet our main criteria, specified above, the panel will consider the following five elements when recommending awards:


1. Innovation and Ambition: is the idea original and compelling; does it meet a clear and demonstrable public need?


2. Desirability: is it appealing to users / commissioners?


3. Impact: if the idea were successful, would the impact be meaningful?


4. Scale: is this an idea that could have broad applicability in other geographies / contexts?


5. Sustainability: is there a credible route to the initiative becoming self-sustaining?


We will also consider the extent to which each team has the necessary skills and partnerships in place. As part of the support offer, Nesta will provide teams with appropriate advice, networks and support.




5 January 2018 – Submit your idea via the Expression of Interest form


22 January 2018 – Workshop for shortlisted ideas




23 January 2018 – Webinar for for shortlisted ideas


5 February 2018 – Submit your full application



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