UK government announces fellowship scheme to attract tech talent

Government says the No.10 Innovation Fellowship Programme is seeking the best tech talent from industry, academia and civil society to help transform delivery of public services

Posted 11 March 2021 by Christine Horton

The UK government has put out a call for digital and technology talent to help transform the delivery of public services.

In a statement released by No.10, it said it wants to “harness the power of technology and data to improve public services.”

It added that the No.10 Innovation Fellowship Programme was seeking the best digital and tech talent from industry, academia and civil society to help accelerate the adoption of cutting-edge approaches.

Announced last year as part of the government’s National Data Strategy, the programme will see around 10 Fellows enter government each year. The government said the scheme was based on the US Presidential Innovation Fellowship Programme, which has attracted talent from tech giants, start-ups, and academia. It has also led to new products and services in areas such as healthcare, veterans support, and natural disaster relief.

In its appeal, No.10 said it wants “a richly diverse group of Fellows united by a passion for using cutting-edge technology and approaches to deliver positive societal impact.

“You might be an entrepreneur – perhaps the founder of a social purpose technology company. Or you might be deeply technical – a data scientist with a special interest in privacy preserving machine learning.”

The successful applicant will be asked to deliver “the type of high impact technology and data projects that are only possible in government.” They will be matched with a government department and have access to senior decision makers to “help tackle public sector challenges of national importance.”

The programme will be run jointly by Number 10 and the Government Digital Service (GDS) and funded by the Cabinet Office. As such, Fellows will be asked to build strong links with the No.10 Data Science Team and GDS.

The government said it is offering each Fellow a Senior Civil Service (SCS1) contract of 12 months with a possibility of extending it up to 24 months; a dedicated recruitment and onboarding process; and bespoke in-programme support.

The projects that have been selected are:

  • Department for Education (DfE): Harnessing the potential of digital solutions in education. DfE are looking to recruit a Senior Data Scientist/ Data Architect AND a Senior Product Manager or Service/ Systems Designer.
  • Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO): Unlocking the power of data to address humanitarian crises. FCDO are looking to recruit a Senior Geospatial Data Scientist AND a Strategic Engagement Manager.
  • Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC): Designing high-impact data solutions in the fight against COVID-19 and beyond. DHSC are looking to recruit experts in Data Science/ Architecture AND experts in Product Management and Strategy.
  • Ministry of Defence (MOD): Serious Games: Using deep reinforcement learning to support planning of military operations. MOD are looking to recruit a Technical Artificial Intelligence Fellow AND an Operationalising Artificial Intelligence Fellow.
  • Ministry of Justice (MoJ): Rethinking how to track offenders in the community. MoJ are looking to recruit Digital Product Fellows.

The government said it will also reserve 20 percent of Fellows’ time to participate in induction, coaching and networking events and to “pursue personal projects with other Fellows where they see an opportunity to have impact.”

It has complied an Advisory Board for the fellowship programme that comprises tech leaders and digital government leaders from the UK and US.