Data Programme Lead


Blackfriars, London – Hybrid Working

Application Deadline
£63,000 - £76.500

£63k-£76.5k plus excellent benefits

Permanent – this is a full-time role but we offer a range of flexible working arrangements and would be open to candidates proposing an alternative working pattern

Blackfriars, London – Hybrid Working

We are recruiting for a Data Programme Lead to join Challenge Works

About Challenge Works

Challenge Works is world-leading in the development and implementation of high-impact challenge prizes that attract and enable innovation to solve pressing societal problems.

Challenge Works is owned by the innovation foundation Nesta and has delivered over 90 high-profile challenge prizes worldwide. The Challenge Works model shines a spotlight on specific problems and opportunities, to inspire and guide the most creative and dynamic groups of innovators to deliver impact.

Around the world and in many different topic areas hundreds of seemingly intractable problems are now becoming solvable due to advances in various AI practices; machine learning, deep learning, neural networks and generative AI. In many cases, the ability to open access and curate high-quality data is key to making problems solvable.

Challenge Works have solid foundations in data-driven transformation and are keen to build our expertise and prize delivery repertoire in this area. We understand that within the not-too-distant future; AI and big data practices will be embedded throughout all aspects of society and we are keen for our prizes to be at the forefront of this.

In 2018 Challenge Works put together the largest ever financial services data sandbox and incentivised teams to create a revolution in personalised finance through our Open Up prize series. More recently we have set up and launched the smart data challenge with the DBT, aiming to break cross-sectoral data silos and we are currently running the UK government's flagship prize on AI for public benefit - the Manchester Prize which enables breakthrough AI.

The Role

Challenge Works are looking for an experienced health data specialist with strong programme management skills to lead the technical workstreams of a multiyear, multi million pound innovation programme in AI drug discovery for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) launching later in 2024.

Working within a team of innovation specialists at Challenge Works and alongside global data partners, the role will build relationships and undertake technical projects to enable unparalleled access to ALS data for a pool of global innovators.

The Longitude Prize for ALS will see international teams of AI biotech and ALS specialists compete to uncover novel drug targets using cutting-edge big data and AI methods before validating their findings in large datasets and in the laboratory. We are looking for a data specialist to coordinate and facilitate access to some of the largest and most rich ALS datasets globally.

This role will also serve as an advisor and programme specialist for future data-focused prizes in health as well as other topic areas.

We are looking for a candidate who will not only have exceptional project management, partnership and negotiation skills but also the technical background, language and experience to be able to understand, articulate and think creatively about the best data access and infrastructure solution for participating teams in our Challenge(s).

The candidate must have experience in managing complex projects with multiple partners, be able to understand and drive key technical requirements, milestones and deliverables, find solutions to problems, and work to the deadlines of prize delivery.

The role requires a broad understanding of biomedical, healthcare or the health data research space. It would be a benefit for the candidate to have an in-depth understanding of data which correlates to ALS and/or the drug discovery process, though this is not essential.

This is a unique and exciting opportunity to work with key partners both externally and internally to lead and drive projects with innovative data componentry, developing solutions and partnerships that improve access to health data for research and innovation that has the potential to transform lives.

Main responsibilities:

  • Leading on the design of a novel data offer for participants of the ALS challenge prize.
  • Forging and maintaining key partnerships with high-profile external data partners.
  • Understanding layers and types of data, their relevance to the intended outcomes of the prize and translating data access opportunities or constraints to prize outcomes.
  • Build and maintain effective working relationships with partner organisations in the neurodegeneration space, data holders, funders and internal stakeholders including negotiating access to key datasets on behalf of the Prize.
  • Analysing potential data hosting and innovator access configuration, communicating best options within prize constraints to the internal team and implementing chosen solutions.
  • Working with internal prize development and implementation team to realise key prize aims within deadlines and within budget.


The successful candidate will be passionate about innovation and have leadership experience in the design and delivery of complex data projects.


  • Experience working in data-focused biomedical/ health research sector, leading technical project delivery.
  • Demonstrable broad technical knowledge and understanding of topics such as; AI big data practice, data types, cloud computing, trusted research environments, data safe havens, and data standards.

Programme Management

  • Demonstrable success in delivering complex programmes with multiple components and many collaborating organisations.
  • Solid organisational, prioritisation and time management skills with the ability to coordinate and track multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Communicating effectively with a range of stakeholders, including written communications (e.g. news stories, case studies).

What we offer

Salary: £63k - £76.5k (offers are expected to be made towards the bottom of the band,depending on experience) plus array of benefits, including private medical insurance, dental insurance, the ability to buy and sell annual leave, eyecare vouchers and more

Location: This role is based in London, Blackfriars, hybrid working arrangement with a minimum of two days in the office

Term: Permanent

Hours: This is a full-time role but we offer a range of flexible working arrangements and encourage our people to take advantage of them. Many do.

Making an application

To apply for this role, please submit your application before 8:00am on the 29th of July 2024.

Interviews will take place w/c 5th of August 2024.

At Nesta, we believe that a diverse workforce leads to an organisation that is more innovative, more creative and gets better results.

We want our workforce to represent the diversity of the people and communities we serve. We also want our workplace to be one where different experiences, expertise and perspectives are valued, and where everyone is encouraged to grow and develop.

This means that when we are recruiting, we actively seek to reach a diverse pool of candidates. It also means that we are happy to consider any reasonable adjustments that potential employees may need to in order to be successful.

We recognise the importance of a good balance between work and home life, so we do everything we can to accommodate flexible working, including working from home, compressed or part-time hours, job shares and other arrangements.

Please just let us know in your application or at any stage throughout the process (and beyond) if these are options you’d like to explore.

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