Francesca Sanderson

Director of Arts Programmes and Investments at NESTA


Francesca Sanderson is the Director of Arts Programmes and Investments at NESTA.


Francesca Sanderson managed an ethical equities fund at JPMorgan for eight years following an MA in Philosophy and Maths and periodic work in charity administration and fundraising. After this, she took a career break during which she travelled around Europe and settled for a year living off-grid in Portugal with her young family. On her return, she started working at Big Society Capital as an investment director, where she worked on a wide variety of social investment deals and research into social pensions.

Francesca Sanderson has also served as Treasurer of Cambridge House, a settlement in Walworth, South London, and has worked closely with UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs, in a non-exec capacity.

Currently, Francesca Sanderson is the Director of Arts Programmes and Investments at NESTA.

Francesca Sanderson is passionate about literature and creative writing, and is a member of the National Academy of Writing. She also enjoys music, theatre and dance as an enthusiastic observer.


About NESTA. I reached a point where I needed to do something different. I had a background working in charities. Likewise, when I was working at JPMorgan managing the ethical fund one of the first organizations I came across was NESTA and I fell in love with the organization: the people there were really intelligent, there was a positive environment in there, etc. And NESTA was all about doing research and analysis for the social good. From NESTA we believe in innovation and for us innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society. We’ve spent over 20 years working out the best ways to make change happen through research and experimenting, and we’ve applied that to our work in innovation policy, health, education, government innovation and the creative economy and arts.

About ‘Creativity, Culture and Capital: Impact investing in the global creative economy’. From NESTA we are collaborating with Fundación Compromiso and Upstart Co-Lab to create a project called ‘Creativity, Culture and Capital: Impact Investing in the global creative economy’. This is a female-led initiative that marks the start of the UN’s International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development and recognises the creative sector as a key driver of inclusive and sustainable growth as the world recovers from the effects of the pandemic.

The collection, which is available in English and Spanish, highlights the need and opportunity for impact investment to support renewed substantial sector growth, alongside continued government funding, philanthropic support and profit-maximising investment, and marks a moment when arts organisations and the creative industries – including fashion, food, film, music and design – are considering what kind of funding will enable them to ‘build back better’ following Covid-19.