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Innovation Fellowships in Health & Care 2024-25 (Zinc & NIHR)



Posted over 30 days ago...


Join a transformative fellowship for postdoctoral researchers to innovate in health and care with Zinc and NIHR


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No salary declared 😔

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London United Kingdom

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98% Remote- UK

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Expires at anytime

Organisation summary

Zinc is a pioneering mission-led venture builder with 7 years of experience in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly in health and sustainability. It has launched 16 research-focused programmes, supporting over 450 innovative individuals in creating impactful ventures. Working closely with a network that includes researchers, investors, and experts, Zinc is dedicated to using advanced technology for the betterment of people and the planet. The organisation's partnership with NIHR for the 2024-2025 Innovation Fellowships in Health and Care offers an exceptional opportunity to contribute to this vibrant ecosystem.

Role Summary

  • Immerse in commercial innovation at the intersection of tech and health.
  • Engage in hands-on experience with early-stage startups.
  • Receive mentorship and training to translate academic skills into the innovation space.
  • Collaborate within a dynamic, multi-disciplinary cohort of researchers and entrepreneurs.
  • Contribute to the development of tech-enabled health and care solutions.

Role Requirements

  • Open to postdoctoral NIHR Academy Members who will have submitted their PhD thesis by September 2024.
  • A strong interest in health innovation and commercialisation of research.
  • Willingness to work in-house with Zinc and associated ventures for at least 6 months.
  • Ability to plan and conduct high-quality applied research.
  • Flexibility and adaptability to a fast-paced, entrepreneurial environment.
  • Team player with a positive, proactive attitude and effective organisational skills.
  • UK-based with the right to work in the UK, and willing to travel to London for monthly sessions.

Application Process Details

  • Submit a 2-page CV and a 2-page cover letter detailing your interest in the Fellowship and health innovation.
  • State your preference for a 6- or 9-month programme and specify full-time or part-time commitment.
  • Provide current salary details and any potential travel or subsistence costs.
  • Complete both a written application and a video recording on the Workable platform.
  • The application deadline is 11.59 pm on 7th April.

Zinc and NIHR are delighted to launch this call for applications to our 2024-2025 Innovation Fellowships in Health and Care. This is a 6-9 month programme, starting in September 2024. 

Successful applicants will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of commercial innovation, supporting the development of tech-enabled products and services that contribute to health and health impacts of the environment. Researchers will also have the opportunity to engage in training, support and mentoring to help them translate their skills, explore new career opportunities, and connect with other talented researchers.

An NIHR Academy Member, previously hosted by Zinc, said the following about their experience:

"My Fellowship at Zinc opened my eyes to the possibilities of a research career beyond academia. I worked alongside brilliant researchers and specialists from myriad disciplines, applied my skills and expertise in experimental ways, and learned new skills across commercial innovation, including user research and product development – all to drive social impact at scale."

Note: This opportunity is open to post-doctoral NIHR Academy Members. You must have submitted your PhD thesis before September 2024 (more details on eligibility below).

About Zinc

Zinc has 7 years’ experience as one of Europe’s leading mission-led venture builders and innovation accelerators. We attract, rigorously select and support leading innovators to leverage advanced technology for healthier people and planet. Zinc has delivered 16 mission-led, research-focused programmes to help 450+ entrepreneurial people build new ventures and expand research. Since launching in 2017, Zinc has run a range of research and innovation programmes that have supported 100+ entrepreneurial people to expand research and build new commercial solutions that tackle complex societal issues. 

Our flagship venture-builder programme brings together cohorts of 70 talented people from a wide range of backgrounds and helps them build mission-focused, research-rich businesses from scratch. 

Since 2020, Zinc has also acted as the delivery partner for the UKRI Healthy Ageing Catalyst Awards. We have a well-developed ecosystem of researchers, innovators, investors, start-ups and experts across a wide range of sectors, with more than half of our activity focusing on health.

About the Innovation Fellowships: Accelerating researchers’ careers

Zinc’s work focuses on unlocking and accelerating the potential of exceptional talent. This includes supporting researchers from different disciplines and career stages to explore research-based opportunities in ventures. Ventures are research-rich environments that provide unique opportunities for awardees to apply and advance their skills. Our experience has helped us understand the needs and opportunities for researchers to develop skills and experiences in mission-led innovation, while helping grow the science base in ventures and generate significant economic and social impact.

As such, Zinc’s Innovation Fellowships are designed to:

  • Offer researchers hands-on, immersive experience in relevant, impactful ventures
  • Extend researchers' skill sets, strengthen their entrepreneurial mindsets and grow their networks
  • Accelerate research impact and advance scientific knowledge for economic and social impact

We’re excited to be building on our learning from the last five years - as well as a very successful collaboration with NIHR in 2023-24.

This new round of Innovation Fellowships will allow postdoctoral NIHR Academy Members from any disciplinary background to build the knowledge and experience they need to apply and advance their skills in innovation for health and social care.

Through a 6-9-month programme, Fellows will work in-house with Zinc and our network of ventures, learn from each other as part of a cohort, and receive training, mentorship and guidance to support their personal and professional journey. We will work with successful applicants to make sure the placement project(s) they work on align as closely as possible with their skills and/or interests.

Zinc has an active portfolio of over 35 new ventures, many of whom are focused on an area that is directly relevant to health and social care, e.g. focusing on mental health, physical activity, care home management, hearing loss, grief, mobility, menopause, incontinence, social isolation, nutrition, dementia diagnosis, and intercultural learning. 

Examples of our portfolio ventures in this area include Bellevie (who are looking to transform the future of care work), Vira Health (who are looking to extend healthy life expectancy, starting with menopause care), and EarGym (who are looking to improve hearing health). More examples are on our website.


Who can apply?

This opportunity is open to postdoctoral NIHR Academy Members. We particularly welcome applications from early career researchers, but you must have submitted your PhD thesis by September 2024. Whatever your academic or professional background, it is essential that applicants have a strong interest in innovations to improve people's health and wellbeing. Where relevant (e.g. for applicants on permanent or fixed term contracts elsewhere), applicants will need to obtain permission from their current employer to join the programme. Please note, this opportunity is only open to UK-based applicants with a right to work in the UK.

Evidence of the following skills, background and attributes will also be prioritised:

  • You have (or will soon have) completed a PhD in any discipline. Applicants from any career stage are welcome to apply.
  • You have a strong interest in enhancing your knowledge of early-stage innovation commercialisation and the role of research within that. No significant previous commercial experience is required.
  • You are keen to work in a multi-disciplinary, multi-sectoral environment and to translate the skills and knowledge gained in academia to a commercial context.
  • You are committed to spending at least 6 months working in-house with Zinc/ventures.
  • You have a strong interest in health innovation.
  • You are able to plan and execute high-quality applied research: You have experience in designing and implementing projects in non-academic settings.
  • You are flexible and able to respond positively to changing circumstances: you can adapt scientific rigour to a fast-paced, agile entrepreneurial context, working to tight and often-changing deadlines, and apply recommendations based on ventures’ commercial needs. You are excited to fully immerse yourself in this dynamic context.
  • You are a team player and can work with the Zinc team and Founders of our ventures in a positive and constructive way.
  • You are effective, organised and hands-on, and able to use initiative to make decisions. A positive, “can-do” attitude is essential.

Note: travel to London is required. There will be once-monthly, in-person cohort sessions that will require travel to London. Travel will be covered by your NIHR Academy award.


Why apply?

This is an exciting opportunity for researchers to experience first-hand what it takes to build a mission-focused start-up from scratch, and to build science-rich products and services to improve health and sustainability outcomes for people across the UK.

The role will provide the opportunity to:

  • Get a different sort of ‘industry’ experience. This won’t be like joining a big corporate organisation, public sector body or government department. Our early-stage start-ups provide a fast-paced, creative and experimental environment and aim to respond at scale to important issues. This is a chance to gain commercial experience in a supportive, research-led environment where the primary focus is on addressing complex health and care challenges. You’ll be working directly with entrepreneurs and their teams, and have the opportunity to contribute your own ideas and thoughts throughout the process.
  • Develop or deepen your knowledge and understanding of early-stage innovation and the role of research within that. As well as learning on the job, you’ll have unlimited access to content delivered in the Zinc venture-builder programme.
  • Build or consolidate your understanding of product/service design approaches (e.g. design thinking) in a mission-focused but commercial context. Zinc’s approach to product development is grounded in principles of design thinking and human-centred design. These approaches are useful in many different contexts. Fellowships offer a chance for those new to these ideas to learn more about them, and for those who know them well to apply them in the particular context of mission-focused commercial venture building.
  • Lead on or participate in research with ventures. The Fellowships provide opportunities to conduct and disseminate creative, applied, design-led research for and with the ventures we develop. This might provide an opportunity to gain experience in new methods or approaches (e.g. participatory or action research), or to apply methods you already know well in the new context of early-stage innovation.
  • Work in a multi-disciplinary, cross-sectoral environment. You’ll work with a diverse range of people across disciplines, domains and sectors. Importantly, you’ll also join a cross-disciplinary cohort of Innovation Fellows.
  • Join a supportive team from similar backgrounds to your own. Most of the Zinc R&D team have done PhDs and postdoctoral work before moving into innovation. We know the opportunities and challenges in this area, and are here to help make sure you have a positive experience with us.
  • Broaden your network and create unique new partnerships. Engaging with both researchers and entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds will help you build productive relationships beyond your own organisation and area of research. These might form the basis of future research partnerships, as well as supporting your personal and professional development more widely.
  • Make a meaningful contribution to the development of brand-new businesses, products and services designed to improve people’s lives. If you’re passionate about health and social care innovation, you’ll be excited by this chance to shape new products and services that aim to improve people's health and wellbeing.

How to apply

We are asking for a short CV (max. 2 pages) and a cover letter (max. 2 pages), focusing on why you are interested in this Fellowship and health innovation. 

Please also indicate:

  • Whether you would prefer a 6- or 9-month programme.
  • Your preference for a full-time or part-time Fellowship and, if part-time, your proposed full time equivalent breakdown for the Fellowship and any other roles (a minimum commitment of 0.5 FTE is required for the Fellowship).
  • Your current salary/spinepoint
  • Other potential incurred costs: support for travel and subsistence is available for those living outside of London. Please specify whether you are likely to require these if your application is successful.

The application deadline is 11.59pm on 7th April.

Once we have received your written application, eligible candidates will receive a link (with instructions) to record a short video on the Workable platform. You must submit both the written application and the video recording to complete your application.

The Fellowship will start in September 2024. Fellowships are typically full-time, but applications for part-time Fellowships will also be considered. Remote work should be possible, but this will be dependent on the nature of the project and host venture. Zinc and most of our ventures are based in London, but many are remote-first. Funding is available to support successful candidates living outside London with travel and subsistence, to allow for face-to-face working where candidates need to travel.

Successful candidates will be asked to provide letters of support from their current employer (if applicable) confirming salary/spine point and their support for the Fellow joining the programme. Your salary and associated travel costs will be administered via an extension to your current NIHR award. 

Zinc can support up to 12 NIHR Academy Members through this process, and these Fellows will form part of a wider cohort of researchers (funded through separate schemes). Salaries will be paid in line with applicants’ current grade and according to the Higher Education single pay spine.

For queries about the application process or the Fellowship programme, please email [email removed - click apply for more details].

For queries about your eligibility as an NIHR Academy Member, please email [email removed - click apply for more details]


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