Government seeks private sector expertise with new fellowship programme

Whitehall street sign outside the Cabinet Office

The government has launched a new Innovation Fellowship programme with the aim of attracting industry experts to help transform the delivery of public services.

The scheme, which draws inspiration from the US Presidential Innovation Fellowship Programme, will be run jointly by Number 10 and the Government Digital Service (GDS) and hopes to recruit around ten professionals each year.

So far the government has outlined projects across five departments that will be supported by the programme, including the use of digital services in education and the designing of digital services to help combat COVID-19.

The 2021 cohort will also work on projects at the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Defence.

The government said it hopes to attract “a richly diverse group of Fellows united by a passion for using cutting-edge technology and approaches to deliver positive societal impact". This includes entrepreneurs in the tech industry, and highly technical roles, such as data scientists.

Joanna Davinson, chair of the Advisory Board and executive director of the Central Digital and Data Office, said: “It’s essential that we have the right technical skills and experience within the Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) profession to deliver the best public services.


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“We already have a wealth of talent in the Civil Service and this programme will allow us to harness external expertise in tackling some of the biggest challenges we face. I look forward to meeting our first cohort.”

Successful fellows will be offered a Senior Civil Service contract for 12 months with the possibility of extending it to 24. They will be paid £85,000 but must forego payment from their former employer for the duration of the Fellowship.

Furthermore, approximately 20% of the work time will be reserved for participation in inductions, coaching sessions, networking events, pursuing personal projects with other Fellows, such as building an app to improve services in their host department or mentoring early career data scientists.

The programme is funded by the Cabinet Office and supported by an Advisory Board made up of digital and tech leaders from industry, government, and academia.

It follows news that UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is set to invest £700k in digital security SMBs and that the government is also looking to buy stakes in tech startups through a £375 million Future Fund.

Applications for the fund close on 28 March.

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.