Programme Manager (Nesta Challenges)

NestaLondon (Temporarily Remote)17 days ago


Nesta Challenges exists to design and run challenge prizes that help solve pressing societal problems that lack solutions. We shine a spotlight where it matters and incentivise people to solve these issues. 

We are independent supporters of change to help communities thrive and inspire the best placed, most diverse groups of people around the world to take action. 

We support the boldest and bravest ideas to become real, and seed long term change to advance society and build a better future for everyone.

Nesta Challenges is looking for a Programme Manager to join its growing team and support the development and delivery of challenge prizes across a broad range of social and technology themes focusing on challenges in: global health, including global surgery, mental health and persistent pain; plastic and electronic-waste.  The challenge prizes can also be applied to contexts such as international development or european social innovation. 

Our projects are complex  with a high public profile, they have significant impact on the lives of many thousands of people, and involve working with an exciting mix of tech entrepreneurs, civil society organisations (not for profits and public interest organisations) and government bodies.

We have launched prizes that include improving outcomes for Nepalese farmers, improving access to energy for refugees and the £10m Longitude Prize for antimicrobial resistance. Some of our current prizes include the EU Social Innovation Competition, the Toyota Mobility Unlimited Challenge,  and global prizes aimed at creating a paradigm shift in the delivery of surgical training, and accelerating access to affordable, sustainable cooling through cool roof materials. See to learn more about our work.

The role 

The successful candidate will be passionate about innovation, have experience in design and delivery of complex multi-stakeholder programmes and bring a creative mindset to delivering social impact through harnessing the power of entrepreneurship and technology. They will bring experience of collaborating with a diverse range of high level partners and clients, coordinating these to ensure the challenge achieves its objectives. They should have experience working on health-related programmes and have an understanding of current opportunities for innovation in health; or in international development, related particularly to the SDGs; or in working with the European Commission on Social Innovation across Europe.

Programme Management  

  • Strategic planning and implementation to prize launch and beyond.
  • Monitoring of milestones, evaluation and finance to keep track of project budgets and deadlines.
  • Managing the day to day delivery of multiple challenge prizes by working with a broad range of partners, contractors, prize entrants and other stakeholders

Stakeholder Management

  • Defining clear lines of communication, ways of working and reporting to stakeholders.
  • Working with potential partners and funders to identify the focus of prizes, conducting research with stakeholders and experts, where necessary.
  • Selecting and appointing expert advisors and panelists for prizes.

Communications & Events 

  • Developing compelling communications and marketing campaigns and strong impact evaluation strategies that demonstrate societal outcomes. 
  • Managing landmark events such as: a launch event, mentoring academy and awards ceremony. 

Business Development 

  • Leading consultancy work for clients interested in challenge-driven innovation, including designing and co-convening workshops and writing reports.
  • Playing a key role in business development activity and contributing to strategy within the team. 
  • Developing relationships with relevant government agencies and charitable foundations 


  • Effective coaching and development of Nesta Challenges junior staff. 
  • Work with diverse Nesta departments including financial, legal and communications.
  • Occasional International travel and out of hours work. 

The Person - knowledge and experience of:

Relevant domain expertise 

  • A background in health or a health-related field such as global health, international development, mental health or medical education; OR 
  • Experience in International Development, with a particular understanding of SDGs and developments in the sector such as shifting power paradigms between Global North and South; OR
  • Working knowledge of the European Commission and the European Social innovation landscape.

Strong programme and client management 

  • Strategic planning, managing budgets, staff and suppliers. 
  • Designing and delivering high profile social impact programmes, setting and achieving ambitious deadlines
  • Managing and tracking multiple projects simultaneously.

 Effective line management 

  • Coaching and guiding other members of the team, through effective and regular communication, collaboration and feedback

 An enquiring mind, able to apply this to complex issues 

  • Ability to analyse and forward think, to see opportunities and risks. 
  • Ability to apply thinking in fields of emerging inclusive technologies and services and appreciate the implications for social benefit 

Diverse partnership building and business development

  • Developing diverse sector partnerships and negotiate with demanding partners and backers to ensure resources and timescales match ambition. 
  • Maximising business development opportunities 

Excellent communications skills.

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, with the ability to communicate with specialist and general interest audiences, including through media. 

Desirable knowledge and experience includes:

  • Design thinking to solve complex problems and find desirable solutions for clients
  • A demonstrable grasp of what is happening at the technological frontier, and the societal and market opportunities and challenges it creates.

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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