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Illustration containing title of the page: Work

for Innovation Unit

Create impact, reduce inequalities, transform systems

Are you energised by digging into problems and challenging assumptions? Are you inspired by designing new solutions to big social challenges? Are you motivated by helping people transform the systems around them?

Working at Innovation Unit might be your next big adventure.

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Innovation Unit’s mission

We are a not-for-profit social enterprise with teams in the UK, Australia and New Zealand which partners with central government, local authorities, health trusts, schools, charities, the voluntary sector, communities and others on a broad range of work – from large scale, long-term innovation programmes to shorter term, highly focused learning projects.

Sometimes we help partners to design an innovation from scratch, having identified a need, sometimes we guide teams on ‘adopting and adapting’ successful innovations from one place to another.

Whatever our work, our focus is people. We connect people with lived experience of the issue we are working on with frontline professionals, VCS organisations, senior leaders and others to transform their systems and place together. Our team question, synthesise, liaise, facilitate, coach, collaborate, co-produce, design and help embed better solutions, outcome and experiences.

What's it like to work at IU?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to how we work. This means members of our team could be focused on one significant project for a lengthy period of time, or could be working across two to three projects for shorter bursts.

We have a clear team structure and leadership, and we are not keen on hierarchy. We encourage everyone to use their initiative, take responsibility and manage risk. We help everyone to learn and grow through informal and structured development.

We encourage learning and flexibility – so we help people adapt to each new piece of work through strong team leadership and connections with others for ideas, advice and support.

We also offer flexibility – through hybrid home and office working, agile hours and generous 27 days leave plus Bank Holidays and Christmas closure.

And we offer a range of benefits including pension contributions, pension salary exchange scheme, life cover, childcare vouchers and a cycle scheme.

Who works at IU?

Our people have a range of backgrounds – some, not all, have worked in innovation and our areas of focus before; everyone has transferable skills which bring new ideas, creativity and energy into the organisation.

We have researchers, service designers and programme managers working alongside nurses, occupational therapists, social workers and central and local government leaders.

Some people have lived experience of mental health, health, children’s social care, and criminal justice systems – and their insight is invaluable should they choose to share openly, privately or not at all.

We take very seriously our responsibilities to achieve equality, diversity and inclusion in our own organisation. We are committed to becoming an anti-racist organisation and we are working hard at integrating these values into our work with partners.

We welcome applications from people from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, those with disabilities as well as those who identify with any other underrepresented group.

We are looking for some, not necessarily all, of the specific or transferable skills and experience outlined in the role profiles – so if you have been inspired by our work, please consider applying for a role.

Apply to work at Innovation Unit

Each role has a comprehensive application pack outlining IU’s mission, ways of working and detail on responsibilities and expected competencies.

Not every application process is the same – so check the requirements carefully before applying. Please let us know if you need a different format or any other adjustment. We will do our best to help.

We will also ask you to complete our optional, anonymous diversity survey to help us understand who is expressing interest in the roles.

Once you apply, you will receive an email confirming we have received your application. Due to high volumes of applicants, we will only get in touch if you have been selected for interview. We won’t offer personal feedback at this stage.

As part of our commitment to EDI, our process is anonymised until you reach interview – unless, of course, you are asked to submit examples or a portfolio of work which identifies you.

And as we work with children and vulnerable adults, we operate a Safer Recruitment policy which means employment offers will be made on the condition of a DBS check and two references.


Jobs at Innovation Unit

We have a strong team ethos where we combine our skills and experiences to create the biggest impact.

  • Principal Innovation Consultants and Directors lead our largest, most complex projects, managing multiple budgets over £600k and teams of more than seven people.
  • Senior Innovation Consultants lead significant projects and work as part of the team on larger projects, also managing partners, budgets up to £200k and teams of around three to seven people.
  • Innovation Consultants lead small to medium projects and work as part of the team on large projects, also managing partners, budgets up to £50k and teams of around two to five people.
  • Senior Associates and Associates work across IU’s projects where they lead on or contribute to strands of work based on their specific strengths, knowledge and expertise.
  • Heads of Service Design lead and contribute to large projects, designing and embedding new solutions, also leading the development of our practice and people in service design.
  • Senior Service Designers work in project teams, leading projects and a small team as well as undertaking research, prototyping and co-design.
  • Service Designers work in project teams, leading elements of projects as well as undertaking research, prototyping and co-design.
  • Our Board of Trustees bring diverse experience and skills to support and challenge IU to greater success.

When there are vacancies at Innovation Unit, you can find them on this page.