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Job Opportunity

Researcher

Closing date: 22 Jul 2024

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Job details

Website Nesta

We are Nesta, the UK’s innovation agency for social good. We design, test and scale solutions to society’s biggest problems. Our three missions are to give every child a fair start, help people live healthy lives, and create a sustainable future where the economy works for both people and the planet.

We are recruiting for a Researcher to join the Challenge Works teams at Nesta

Overview

Challenge Works is seeking a researcher to contribute to its portfolio of future challenge prizes by carrying out targeted research into, and expert engagement on, innovation opportunities.

Challenge Works is at the forefront of identifying and defining problems where new ideas, technologies and approaches can be encouraged to radically improve outcomes and then developing and managing challenge prizes that optimise the likelihood of success. Challenge prizes are competitions which reward whoever can first, or most effectively, meet a defined challenge.

The work of Challenge Works’ research team

The research team plays four key roles within Challenge Works: 1) carrying out targeted research to inform the design of new prize projects; 2) horizon scanning, futures thinking and expert engagement to identify new projects and develop new business; 3) evaluating the impact and effectiveness of our prize programmes, and 4) thought leadership that shapes internal and external policies on stimulating outcome-based innovation. We also carry out consultancy work to advise governments around the world on these roles.

The team’s work focuses on expert engagement to ensure that our work is informed by the best evidence possible. We do this primarily through a combination of desk research, expert interviews and expert roundtables, but we are always keen to try out and adopt new methods.

Recent or ongoing Challenge Works projects have included the Afri-Plastics Challenges to reduce marine plastics in Sub-Saharan Africa (for the Canadian Government), the Longitude Prize on Antimicrobial Resistance on new generation of diagnostics for rapidly identifying the bacteria causing an infection and specific antibiotics which are successful at treating it (for Nesta and Innovate UK) and the Aqualunar Challenge making human habitation in space possible by finding ways to purify water buried beneath the Moon’s surface (with the Canadian and UK Space Agencies). Recent consultancy work has included advising on the design of Northern Ireland’s city and growth deal challenge funds, and training Brazilian civil servants in how to design and run innovation challenge prizes.

The researcher will report to the Senior Researcher. The research team currently comprises the Research Lead, Evaluation Manager, Senior Researcher and one other Researcher and is headed by the Director of Research and Evaluation. Researchers work across Challenge Works in teams with project managers, coordinators, prize designers, communication officers and other researchers as well as supporting directors in business development and strategy projects.

What are we looking for

We are looking for a design researcher who can contribute across the full range of our challenge prize topics. These can range from frontier technology (such as robotics and AI) to social impact (such as innovations to reduce loneliness). Most of our prizes balance a focus on spurring technological innovation with a nuanced understanding of the technologies’ users, customers and impact on society.

In the first instance, the design researcher is likely to work primarily on aa large-scale challenge prize that would incentivise place-based innovations to solve local and societal challenges in partnership with global NGOs and local authorities, but our work is broad and fast paced – you can also be expected to to contribute to programs spanning other areas of technology and social innovation.

So more than any specific academic or professional background, we’re looking for broad curiosity, the ability to rapidly get up to speed with new topics, to pinpoint opportunities and to articulate their importance. You’ll be interested in breakthrough innovations, but also the innovators who create them, and the broader systemic change that they are part of.

You might have that through having been…

  • A service designer or design researcher, who uses speculative design to map out future scenarios.
  • A management consultant, interested in the cutting edge of technology and innovation.
  • A civil servant who has worked on projects to support innovation, foster economic development or fund research.
  • A science or technology PhD with an interest in entrepreneurship and tech transfer.
  • A social scientist with a background in business studies, management or economics, with an interest in technology and innovation.
  • …or someone else.

The role

The researcher will:

  • Carry out research sprints to better understand market gaps and opportunities for innovation
  • Prepare and present briefings on innovation opportunities in a range of fields
  • Identify promising challenge topics and define problems suitable for innovation programmes
  • Carry out desk research and interviews with experts to gather evidence and feedback
  • Design and facilitate workshops with diverse audiences
  • Develop prototypes of challenge prizes and other open innovation programmes
  • Test and iterate the design prototypes based on research findings and implementation constraints
  • Write and present clear reports summarising research projects and programme implementation plans
  • Contribute to the research team’s development of research and design methods
  • Help communicate our work to outside audiences, for instance through blog posts or speaking at conferences
  • Contribute to Challenge Works team-wide initiatives as necessary

The person

Essential:

  • Strong communications skills
  • Open and willing to work on unfamiliar topics
  • Strong sense of social purpose
  • Interest in, experience or knowledge of technological or social innovation

Desirable:

  • Knowledge of relevant research method(s), such as impact evaluation, interviews, ethnography, design thinking
  • Experience of developing proposals for new projects and gaining funding
  • Interest in innovation, science and technology policy
  • Experience of successfully working in a fast-paced consultancy, research or think tank environment, getting up-to-speed quickly with new subject areas, flexibility in approach to work to fit project demands, and juggling light-touch short-term and larger in-depth pieces of research

To apply for this job please visit www.nesta.org.uk.

Other benefits

  • Salary:£36,400-£50,000 (offers are expected to be made towards the bottom of the band) plus array of benefits, including private medical insurance, dental insurance, the ability to buy and sell annual leave, eyecare vouchers and more
  • Location: This role is based in London, Blackfriars, hybrid working arrangement with a minimum of two days in the office
  • Term: 2 year Fixed term contract
  • Hours:This is a full-time role but we offer a range of flexible working arrangements and encourage our people to take advantage of them. Many do.

How to apply

To apply please visit https://www.nesta.org.uk/jobs/researcher-challenge-works-4/

To apply for this role, please submit your application before 8:00am on the 22nd of July 2024.

Interviews will take place w/c 29th of July 2024.

At Nesta, we believe that a diverse workforce leads to an organisation that is more innovative, more creative and gets better results.

We want our workforce to represent the diversity of the people and communities we serve. We also want our workplace to be one where different experiences, expertise and perspectives are valued, and where everyone is encouraged to grow and develop.

This means that when we are recruiting, we actively seek to reach a diverse pool of candidates. It also means that we are happy to consider any reasonable adjustments that potential employees may need to in order to be successful.

We recognise the importance of a good balance between work and home life, so we do everything we can to accommodate flexible working, including working from home, compressed or part-time hours, job shares and other arrangements.

Please just let us know in your application or at any stage throughout the process (and beyond) if these are options you’d like to explore.

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Job Details

Organisation: Nesta

Location: Blackfriars, London

Salary: £40,000+ (£36,400 - £50,000 plus excellent benefits )

Closing date: 22 Jul 2024 (8 AM)

Contract type: Fixed (2 years)

Full-time/part-time: Either full-time or part-time

Remote working: Hybrid

About the Organisation

We are Nesta, the UK’s innovation agency for social good. We design, test and scale solutions to society’s biggest problems. Our three missions are to give every child a fair start, help people live healthy lives, and create a sustainable future where the economy works for both people and the planet.

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