Stian Westlake

Executive Director of Policy and Research at Nesta

Executive Director of Policy and Research, Nesta
Policy Fellow Alum, Centre for Science and Policy

Stian leads Nesta's Policy and Research team. His 25-person team developed new insights into how innovation works and influences policy and practice to make it happen. He also led a variety of special projects, including setting up a £1.5m social finance fund and managing Nesta’s £2m Creative Industries programme.

Stian’s research interests include the link between innovation, government policy and new technologies; high-growth businesses; social innovation; and the relationship between innovation, entrepreneurship and optimism. His research interests included the measurement of innovation and its effects on productivity, the role of high-growth businesses in the economy, financial innovation, and how government policy should respond to technological change.He has written, edited and managed a series of acclaimed research reports, including The Vital Six Per Cent (short-listed for Prospect Magazine’s Think-Tank Report of the Year), The Innovation Index, and Schumpeter Comes to Whitehall. Among his successes in influencing government policy are the development of the Innovation Investment Fund, the Centre for Challenge Prizes, and the Business Finance Partnership, all of which Government adopted and funded.

Before joining Nesta in 2009, Stian worked in social venture capital at The Young Foundation and founded Healthy Incentives, an innovative health venture. Prior to this, he spent seven years as a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company in Silicon Valley and London, including a year on secondment to HM Treasury as a founder member of unit set up to develop and reform Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and to provide financial and political advice to government ministers.

He holds a first-class BA (Hons) in History from the University of Oxford and a Master’s in Finance with Distinction from London Business School. He also pursued graduate work in economics and government at Harvard University as a Kennedy Memorial Scholar.

Read Stian's article in the Guardian on 'how to pitch science policy advice'.