The project was launched in November by Nesta, the Big Lottery Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund amid shrinking funding for parks – estimated to fall by at least 60 per cent over the next decade.
Rethinking Parks aims to find parks innovators who would share and test new business models for public parks.
Anyone can apply for the grants and Rethinking Parks is encouraging parks staff and managers, Friends’ groups and social enterprise members, among others, to enter.
Ragoonanan said: "Local government funding for parks is projected to fall by 60 per cent or more over the next decade, parks will need to find new ways to thrive in the future.
"Context matters in applications – you should know your place. While great innovations might stretch or challenge the status quo, they don’t ignore the environment they operate in. Do some research to understand how your great idea might impact on people who are using your local park, and even explore reasons for staying away by those less inclined to visit.
"Secondly, be clear about the impact you want to make. You should articulate clearly what you are doing, why, and outline what the intended outcome is. Don’t forget to think through the assumptions you’ve made in why your innovation will work.
"Understand the financial implications and impact of your idea. The crisis we face for our public parks is primarily a financial one. We need innovations that will sustain our parks, so your business model has to be a viable way of either reducing costs or generating revenues."
Ragoonanan said that teamwork was key and great results often came from collaboration.
She added: "Anyone can apply, but we’re especially interested in ideas that have been developed through collaboration – partnerships between local authorities and social enterprise, or private business working to assist a public park, or joint-ventures that stretch across local authority boundaries."
To apply for the fund visit www.nesta/org.uk/rethinkingparks by February 28.