Update 25/04/2018: Call now closed. Thank you to those who applied!

Join our Good Problems team to identify science and tech problems, and design incentives to solve them 🚀

The Good Problems Team at Science Practice works with funders, investors, and philanthropists to design innovative challenges and funding schemes in science and technology. We have designed over 30 challenges and funding calls including the £10M Longitude Prize.

How we work and what we’re working on now

Our approach relies on finding interesting problems and proposing ways to encourage people to solve them such as challenge prizes, competitions, funding calls, and accelerator programmes. In the past, we’ve designed challenges and funding calls covering problems like antimicrobial resistance and water desalination for the Longitude Prize, sanitation in humanitarian settings for the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, and non-animal protein sources and opportunities for re-engineering soil for the Frontier Prize.

At the moment, we’re working on the Flying High Challenge – a project exploring how drones could be used in urban settings – and are designing challenges targeting international development opportunities in Indonesia and Egypt.

We’re also looking to design and run Good Problems workshops to share our tools and methodology with scientists so we can support them in identifying venture opportunities.

We’re looking for someone who:

  • 🔬 Is comfortable with science and technology, has excellent research skills, and enjoys exploring new topics and areas of science (both through desk research and by interviewing experts).
  • ✍️ Writes well and enjoys expressing complex subject matter in simple, engaging language. (Design experience and ability to present ideas and concepts visually would be nice to have, too.)
  • 🎤 Is excited about engaging with domain experts (such as scientists, engineers, and policy experts), other organisations, and the general public through talks, workshops, events, and social media.

Science Practice is an equal opportunity employer and we value diversity and inclusion at our company. We welcome people of different nationalities, backgrounds, experiences, abilities, and perspectives.

What we’re offering

As well as a competitive salary we are offering matched pension contributions and flexible, family-friendly working arrangements. Oh – and a cupboard full of fruit and snacks. 🍌

How to apply

Please send an email with your CV and/or portfolio and a brief cover letter to Ana at af@science-practice.com. We look forward to hearing from you! 🙌

No agencies, please

Canadian born and bred, lover of the Oxford comma, and intimidatingly good proof-reader. Science Practice welcomes yet another new face to the team!

Andrea isn’t completely new — she’s been working remotely with us (from Vancouver) since November, but couldn’t resist the pull of London any longer and has finally joined us full-time in the studio!

The A Team

The good problems team: Andrea, Aran and Ana - otherwise known as ‘The A Team’.

With degrees in English and Information Design, Andrea fits right in with our design-led research approach. Her raft of experience ranging from the dramatic (licensing the Canadian security industry) to the downright unexpected (training as a ‘Master Compost Recycler’) means she joined ready to adapt to working in any sector and jumped straight into finding some good problems with us.

She’s already been working on the Flying High project as the designer behind those lovely summary documents we’ve been producing to bring cities up to speed with drone technology. Now she’s taking the lead on the research for the Egypt strand of our Global CoLab project with 100% Open, Nesta and the Newton Fund, and working on redesigning the good problems website — and of course, revamping this blog with a brand new design!

The good problems ‘A Team’ is now bigger and busier than ever, so keep an eye out on this blog and our twitter feed for future updates on our escapades as we take on the world’s problems together…

He came for the job, but he stayed for the snacks: meet the intern who never left.

It’s been almost four months now, so an introduction to the newest member of the Science Practice team is well overdue!

Once upon a time, Aran was a scientist looking after stem cells and exercising his distinctly average pipetting skills on a daily basis. However, much like his new colleague Simon, he decided life in the lab wasn’t for him, and made a dramatic move into science communication instead. In his own words: “talking about science is a lot more fun than actually doing it!”

Aran Radio

Give a warm welcome to Aran Shaunak - the newest member of the Good Problems team!

After finishing his MSc in Science Communication, he managed to talk his way into Science Practice on a short-term internship with the promise of some free grant money (which is yet to arrive, but we live in hope). A couple of months on, he decided to throw in the towel with big organisations and instead take up a desk as the fifth member of Science Practice.

As Ana’s right-hand-man on the Good Problems team he’s been busy researching drones for the Flying High Challenge and renewable energy in Indonesia for the Global CoLab; designing the first draft of the upcoming Good Problems workshops (stay tuned…) and helping out where he can with Ana’s relentlessly impressive drive to drum up more work. Crucially, he’s also taken over the role of Ana’s Lunch Enforcer, which has been vacant since Tempest sadly left the office.

For the last few months Aran has also been looking after our comms: coming up with a communications strategy to guide us for this quarter, reviving this blog and desperately trying to resist the urge to use #innovation in his tweets. If you drop us a line on Twitter, most likely it’ll be Aran getting back to you!

With his ever-present smile and a desire to get stuck in, Aran has slotted in well here at the office - although he’s still an outsider, as the only member of the team without a Mac.

Welcome to the team, Aran and we’ll make sure to keep that snacks cupboard well stocked!

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) - more commonly known as drones - have rapidly become the go-to gadget for hobbyists and professionals alike. They are regularly used for photography and filming applications, to deliver supplies to remote locations, and even by emergency services in search and rescue operations. But so far, they haven’t been welcome in cities.

The Flying High Challenge, a collaboration between innovation foundation Nesta and Innovate UK, aims to change that. The Good Problems team at Science Practice has been supporting the project by exploring problems that urban drones could solve and the barriers that need to be overcome before drones can be safely and usefully introduced to city skies.

Inspect Infrastructure

In future, drones could inspect tall buildings, helping workers avoid dangerous work environments.

To solve a problem, first you have to choose a problem. There are a wide range of barriers to introducing drones to cities, ranging from concerns around safety and functionality to restrictions imposed by the law. Through design-led research, we searched for and analysed these barriers to work out which problems the Flying High Challenge should focus on.

First up, there are clear technical difficulties in using drones to perform some tasks. For example, if police or fire departments need to use a drone in an emergency, it’s not very helpful if it can’t fly because of a little wind or rain. Some drones have sensors so advanced they can see through walls, yet they’re being held back by battery technology which limits the hardware they can carry and how long they can fly for. And Amazon wants to bring you your delivery in ten minutes flat? Great. Amazon drops your delivery from 400 feet onto the M25? Less great.

However, we can’t think about these drones in isolation: they’ll need a lot of new infrastructure, and if they’re going to be sharing the same airspace, they’ll have to learn to talk to each other. Cities will need to build recharging stations, maintenance hubs, and loading bays to help drones do their jobs. Drones criss-crossing the skies will need an air traffic control system to plan flight paths and stop them crashing into one another, as well as top-end security to prevent them being hacked or brought down.

There are legal barriers too: current regulations make it almost impossible for councils and businesses to operate drones in urban areas, since they can’t be flown near buildings or crowds (unless they have special permission, like when the London Fire Brigade used a drone to assess the damage following the Grenfell tower fire). In particular, drones can’t be flown autonomously, and have to fly within the visual line of sight of the pilot, which presents real issues for large-scale commercial applications.

How We Helped

To guide the decision-making of city authorities applying to the Flying High Challenge, we first produced an Introductory Pack which summarised our research in an accessible way. Its aim was to help bring cities up to speed with cutting-edge drone technology and help them decide which applications would be most appropriate and useful for their needs.

Urban drone use cases fall into one of five categories: monitoring (shown left), inspecting, delivering goods (shown right), transporting people, or intervening.

There turned out to be a lot of interest: whether they want to use them to deliver organs between hospitals, fight fires, or bring your packages to your door, cities across the UK want to be the first to bring drone technology into the urban environment.

Based on interest areas identified by cities and through our own research, we then shortlisted 13 priority use cases, each of which would offer significant economic and social benefits to citizens if implemented in UK cities. These use cases fall into five categories:

Monitoring environments, individuals and groups: Monitoring air pollution, mapping fires, overseeing construction sites and creating smart road networks.

Inspecting infrastructure and systems: Exploring hazardous environments, inspecting large infrastructure, and maintaining utilities.

Delivering goods: Delivering consumer goods and providing hospitals with medical supplies.

Transporting people: Providing airborne public transport or taxi services.

Supporting existing services: Responding to traffic accidents, managing marine ports, and boosting mobile networks.

We distilled our research on each of these drone applications into digestible one-page summaries. Their aim was to help cities get a clearer picture of which use cases they might be interested in and establish what needs to be done before those applications can become a reality.

Two examples (left - mapping fires; right - monitoring air pollution) of the one-page summaries we produced for each of the 13 shortlisted use cases. See all use case briefs here.

What’s next?

Last week, the judging panel reviewed applications from cities across the UK and selected five cities to go forwards into the Flying High Challenge. Congratulations to Bradford, London, Preston, Southampton, and the West Midlands! Working together with Nesta, we will now explore each of the finalists’ visions in detail and help them identify specific use cases where drones could add value to their cities.

Join our Good Problems Team to identify science & tech problems and design incentives to solve them

The Good Problems Team at Science Practice works with funders, investors, and philanthropists to design innovative challenges and funding schemes in science and technology. We have designed over 30 challenges and funding calls including the £10M Longitude Prize.

How we work and what we’re working on now

Our approach relies on proposing interesting problems, or ways to encourage communities to solve them – challenge prizes, competitions, funding calls, accelerator programmes. We do this by creating design proposals which we then test in interviews with diverse stakeholders. This allows us to have focused conversations and helps us build a better understanding of problems, solvers and challenges.

We have designed challenges and funding calls covering problems like antimicrobial resistance or water desalination for the Longitude Prize, sanitation in humanitarian settings for the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, and non-animal protein sources and opportunities for re-engineering soil for the Frontier Prize.

We are currently working on a project exploring the commercial potential of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in urban settings. We’re also looking to publish some of our methodologies and tools.

We’re looking for someone who:

  • Has excellent design skills and a background in one or more design disciplines such as interaction design, product design or communication design.
  • Has excellent research skills and enjoys exploring new scientific and technical domains through desk research and by interviewing experts.
  • Is literate in science and technology and capable of identifying opportunities and barriers to innovation.
  • Writes well and enjoys expressing complex subject matter in simple, engaging language.
  • Can present ideas and concepts visually.
  • Is excited about collaborating with domain experts such as scientists and engineers.

What we’re offering

As well as a competitive salary we are offering matched pension contributions and family-friendly and flexible working arrangements.

Science Practice is an equal opportunity employer and we value diversity and inclusion at our company. We welcome people of different nationalities, backgrounds, experiences, abilities and perspectives.

How to apply

Please send an email with your CV and/or portfolio and a brief cover letter to Ana at af@science-practice.com. Thanks and look forward to hearing from you!

No agencies please

Looking for a good problem?

We are a close team of designers and researchers who are passionate about tackling ambitious and important problems. If you’re looking to grow your impact, we’d love to hear from you!