Innovation Manager

16 December 2021

North East England
Fixed-term contract, initially to June 2023 with possibility of extension
£40,000 per year pro rata plus pension
Full time (with flexible and part time working options)

The Rural Design Centre is a unique, nationally-significant initiative, using design thinking to improve the lot of rural communities. Supported by a wide range of organisations across the rural economy, the Centre is changing the way communities, businesses, public authorities and researchers work together to solve rural challenges.

Rural UK is diverse, different, challenged, underserved and with significant untapped innovation potential. The evidence shows that rural areas often outperform urban on indicators such as employment growth and rates, businesses per head, levels of innovation, and rural firms are more likely to report a profit than their urban counterparts. It can be wrongly assumed that the rural economy is predominantly synonymous with agriculture or land-based activities but in reality it is much more diverse.

But rural areas also face real challenges to economic growth, both geographic and social. The Rural Design Centre uses design thinking processes to identify and solve deep-seated rural challenges. Challenges like these tend to require thinking from different perspectives and fields of expertise. This means bringing together people from rural communities, from a range of businesses across multiple sectors, the public sector and researchers to come up with ground-breaking ideas. These ideas then need to be fleshed-out and tested in the communities they are meant to help. Most importantly, the approach is to work with communities on solutions, not develop things for communities.

To make this work, we need exceptional people. This is not a normal job in any sense of the word. It is about facilitating discussions between diverse sets of people and helping turn these discussions into deliverable ideas. It’s then about working with businesses and social enterprises to commercialise these ideas and ensure they make it into the real world. Ultimately, it’s about making a difference to people’s lives.

Our Design Associates and Innovation Managers are the key to this. These are highly experienced individuals with an in-depth understanding of human centred design and/or of commercialising innovative ideas. They must be open minded, inquisitive and facilitative, whilst at the same time having an eye for detail. They need to be able to identify good ideas through thinking differently (and encouraging others to do so) but also be able to help make these ideas a reality.

We are now seeking an additional Innovation Manager to complement our existing team. Initially funded through the European Regional Development Fund, the role is to work with local businesses to help them develop and commercialise solutions for rural challenges. Funding is currently in place through to June 2023 but we are actively looking to extend this into a permanent role.

An understanding of innovation and business growth, along with strong communication skills, are essential. Just as importantly our team all have a drive and determination to make things happen, leading to a positive impact for rural communities.

If this is for you, the first stage is to submit your CV to simon@ruraldesigncentre.com before 12.00 on Monday 10th January. Interviews are planned for Tuesday 18th January.

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