Set up in 1998 with an endowment from the National Lottery, Nesta provides seed funding for innovative businesses and runs a number of programmes to nurture talent. It has enabled projects such as that for an eco-friendly driverless taxi.
The non-departmental public body has used GCI Political Counsel for the past three years, rehiring the agency only a year ago after a seven-way pitch (PRWeek, 16 April 2004).
The decision to review has been sparked partly by recent departures from GCI, principally director of public affairs Rod Cartwright, who left at the end of last year to join Hill & Knowlton.
It has emerged that Kevin Jones, the former Energist lobbyist who joined the agency in January, has also since quit, returning to his native US for family reasons.
It is understood that GCI will continue to provide Nesta with parliamentary monitoring services. However, the main contract to provide strategic public affairs and policy advice is up for grabs.
Nesta is also looking to hire consultancies on separate contracts for PA advice in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The brief involves 'building Nesta's profile and reputation' across government departments. Nesta said it was graduating into its 'role as a think-do tank, combining experience at the coalface with the larger questions facing UK culture, society and the economy'.
- Pitches are scheduled to take place on 16 June.