NESTA announces details of hyperlocal research and funding

The innovation  agency NESTA has now announced full details of Destination Local, their hyperlocal development programme, which I trailed here.

Together with the Technology Strategy Board they are funding £1 million of pilot projects.

In particular, we are looking for prototypes that make the most of mobile technologies to deliver geographically-relevant local media.

Our goal in funding the prototypes is to understand what new business models may be required, what types of service work well with audiences and the challenges and opportunities of using mobile technologies.  Successful applications will be able to demonstrate how they help to understand these themes.

I’m glad to see one of the partners are the champions of local bloggers, Talk About Local. As Sarah Hartley writes on their blog:

At Talk About Local we’re delighted to have been invited to become partners in what must be the biggest drive of its type to identify the technologies, business models, content opportunities and challenges in this space.

We’ve championed, cajoled, encouraged, developed and celebrated the great work which goes on up and down the country since we were formed in 2009 and welcome both the focus the initiative will prompt, as well as the coming together of expertise it is facilitating.

The two headline announcements today are calls for applications:

  • Nesta is offering seed funding of up to £50,000 to test the next generation of hyperlocal media services. Applications open today at
  • The Technology Strategy Board aims at technology-focused feasibility projects and offers grant funding of up to £56,250. Applications will open on 23 April at

Here’s quotes from the NESTA press release:

Jon Kingsbury, Programme Director, at Nesta, says: ‘Consumers’ increasing adoption of new, mobile-based technologies offers exciting possibilities to deliver highly localised information services to niche audiences.  ‘Destination Local’ will prototype the next generation of hyperlocal services in a bid to understand whether these new technologies and platforms can deliver sustainable, scalable models that serve local communities and deliver economic benefit.’

Dr. Jeremy Silver, Creative Industries Lead Specialist of the Technology Strategy Board, says: ‘Traditional models of local media, print or broadcast, have suffered as the internet has undermined their business models. But the combination of social media with location-aware technologies, the lowering of barriers to entry for self-publishing, and the high degree of user-engagement now visible online suggests that new models for local media might emerge out of new smarter uses of enabling technologies. We believe that the UK could be a great source of innovation in this field and that this could have value to communities around the world.’

There’s a comprehensive round-up of the the announcements and links from Damian Radcliffe, who until recently worked at Ofcom tracking hyperlocal developments. In a private capacity Damian has produced an excellent landscape review as part of the NESTA research, referenced below. Damian writes:

You can read the press release here as well as some FAQs and a list of partners (which includeCreative EnglandMozillaSkillsetSTVTalk About LocalTime OutUniversity of Central Lancashire (uclan) and the Welsh Government).

The Technology Strategy Board is to invest up to £1.8m in feasibility projects that address the converged nature of the digital landscape, the first part will look at encouraging innovative, hyper-local cross-media platforms and enabling technologies that will drive new service offerings, reach out into communities and provide conduits for public services. There’s a four page brief here.

Projects should last up to 12 months and are eligible for grants of up to £56,250 or 75% of total costs. Total project costs must not exceed £75,000. Click this link for more details.

My own involvement has been around a landscape report looking at hyperlocal in the UK. You candownload it from here. Many thanks to everyone who has said nice things about the report thus far. With 52 pages, 173 footnotes and I think 15,000 words or so, it is not necessarily a short read, but I hope it is a useful and insightful one.

Sarah Hartley over on the Talk About Local blog has published Five hyperlocal take-aways from the Here and Now report – be interested to see what others glean from it.

NESTA’s main Desination Local site

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