The Big Hire: Ravi Gurumurthy, Nesta

Andy Ricketts profiles the newly appointed chief executive of the innovation charity. Plus: Movers

Ravi Gurumurthy
Ravi Gurumurthy

Gurumurthy, who will become chief executive of the innovation charity Nesta later this year, is no stranger to thinking outside the box. As chief innovation officer at the International Rescue Committee for the past six years and with previous experience in strategic roles in various UK government departments, his track record would suggest he will be at ease with the policy demands of the new role.

He will succeed Geoff Mulgan in December, moving back to the UK from New York to take up the position. Mulgan led the charity through the process of changing from a non-departmental public body to a charity in 2012.

Gurumurthy was a speechwriter for David Miliband, who is now chief executive of the IRC, while Miliband was Foreign Secretary and at two other government departments.

Nesta, which conducts research and policy work, and provides funds and support to innovative ideas in such areas as education, health and the creative arts, has spent significantly more than its income in each of the past five years. It can do this because it has more than £420m of "expendable endowment funds", its accounts for the year to the end of March 2018 show. It was given about £300m in endowment funds by the National Lottery between 1999 and 2003.

Gurumurthy, whose brother is the Channel 4 news presenter Krishnan, said in a statement that Nesta played a "unique role in generating researching and scaling innovation in the UK and globally". He said: "I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to build on the terrific work done by Geoff Mulgan and harness the skills, networks and resources of Nesta to tackle the biggest societal challenges of our time."

Sir John Gieve, chair of Nesta, said Gurumurthy’s record would help him build on Mulgan’s achievement in transforming Nesta from a quango to an independent charity. "Under Ravi, I am confident Nesta will continue to nurture the best innovations, show that they work and collaborate to scale," said Gieve.


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