Mission accomplished? Not quite.


We’re looking for two new UK Board Directors to help us get there. If you’re an experienced leader with values that align with ours we would love to hear from you. Please register your interest by 23rd November 2018.

Words by Sarah Gillinson, Chief Executive, and Paul Roberts, Chair

Innovation Unit’s mission is to create new solutions to big social challenges that have impact at scale. This is what motivates us and it’s what we are good at.

Right now we are lucky to be working with ambitious partners around the UK to identify high impact new ideas and deliver the hard work of change that’s needed to bring them to life.

We are using funding from the Big Lottery Fund to take Lambeth’s high impact ‘Living Well’ model and adapt it in Edinburgh, Luton, Tameside and Glossop and Salford. Living Well helps people with mental health problems to get the support they need, when they need it – with a 40% reduction in referrals to secondary care as a result.

In January 2019, Big Picture UK, the charity we founded to bring a proven school model from the US to this country, will open its first school in Doncaster. Big Picture Doncaster will give 60 young people who are struggling to thrive in mainstream school the opportunity to flourish and contribute.

Meanwhile, off the back of our work on innovation in children’s social care, we are working with the 10 Greater Manchester authorities to help them identify which tried and tested innovations they could adopt and adapt to deliver better outcomes for children and young people, and better value for money for the system.

This kind of work represents a significant and intentional shift in our ambition as an organisation. Over the past 2 to 3 years we have set ourselves a bolder and more inspiring challenge, which is to use innovation not just to create change, but to ensure that its application changes many lives for the better.

New solutions, impact and scale are what we’re all about and that’s where we’re focusing our resources, leadership and expertise, with increasing success.

Now we are looking for two new board directors to help guide us in the delivery of our mission. Whilst our current board brings outstanding expertise and experience in innovation and in some of our key ‘sectors’, we are now in need of no-less important complementary skills. We need people with real business ‘nouse’, mastery of different business models and their application, experience in generating social and philanthropic investment, alongside deep and real world understanding of what it takes to adopt and adapt new ideas, and take them to scale for greatest impact.

We are a relatively small organisation with a small board, so you will need to be strongly aligned with our values, ready to contribute fully and able to collaborate closely with colleagues. We are looking for experienced leaders who are focused on impact and able to question constructively whilst bringing concrete suggestions to improving our work and our business.

We’re open to hearing from a range of people who might be a good fit for the role, and we’re particularly interested in social entrepreneurs who have grown their own businesses or organisations, senior leaders from across the public and third sectors, and experienced consultants.

How to apply

If you are inspired by what we do, and have skills and experience that could help us to increase our impact further over the next five years, please contact Kathy Whipp (kathy.whipp@innovationunit.org or 020 3918 5170) to express your interest.

The next step will be to arrange a brief, initial conversation over the phone with our Chief Exec or Deputy to get a mutual sense of fit. 

We know that, ultimately, you’ll be choosing us as much as we are choosing you.

The deadline for expressions of interest is Friday 23 November 2018

The role requires a minimum commitment of four days per year (preparation for and attendance at board meetings).

The pay is £4,375k pa.