The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) hopes to release the UK’s untapped genius through its Big Green Challenge.

The initiative is encouraging groups of people and not-for-profit organisations to think of new ways to reduce the carbon emissions of a community.

Initial ideas must be submitted by the end of February, when judges will whittle down the entries to a shortlist of ten finalists who will each receive a £20,000 grant, mentoring and support to put their ideas into practice.

The most innovative idea will then win the remainder of the £1m prize fund.

A survey launched by NESTA to coincide with the opening of the competition found that eight out of ten people in the UK believe they have had a brainwave for improving everyone’s lives, but 72% are held back by lack of funding or fear of failure.

More than half of those surveyed said they would be motivated to act on their ideas if they had financial backing or reward.

NESTA chief executive Jonathan Kestenbaum said: “The findings suggest that many of the potentially great ideas out there that could have a real impact on our big social problems are going to waste.

“The New Year offers an opportunity to bring these ideas to the surface.

“By providing a financial incentive and expert support, we hope to encourage communities to come together to find new ways to tackle climate change.”

The survey also found that men are twice as likely as women to have ideas come to them over a pint at the pub, and 10% of men claim to be inspired while in the toilet.

Around a quarter of women said their flash of inspiration came while doing household chores.

More details about the Big Green Challenge can be found at

Kate Martin

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