This vacancy has now closed

Policy Advisor – Scotland

  • Full time
  • £46,000 – £61,500
  • Hybrid working, Edinburgh Scotland
  • Closing 27th November 2023

  • Advertised from 15th November 2023
  • Plus excellent benefits. 18 Month Fixed term contract.


We are recruiting for a Policy Advisor in the Nesta Scotland Team.

The Policy Advisor will work across Nesta’s three missions and make a significant contribution to our UK Options 2040 programme.

About Nesta

We are Nesta, the UK’s innovation agency for social good. We design, test and scale solutions to society’s biggest problems. Our three missions are to give every child a fair start, help people live healthy lives, and create a sustainable future where the economy works for both people and the planet.

For over 20 years, we have worked to support, encourage and inspire innovation. We work in three roles: as an innovation partner working with frontline organisations to design and test new solutions, as a venture builder supporting new and early stage businesses, and as a system shaper creating the conditions for innovation.

Harnessing the rigour of science and the creativity of design, we work relentlessly to change millions of lives for the better. Find out more at

The team

You will be based in the Nesta Scotland team, working closely with the Head of Scotland, Mission Managers and our Communications and Engagement Manager to influence policy and achieve social impact at scale in each mission as well as working with colleagues across Nesta to inform wider work.

The role

There are two key workstreams for this role - supporting the development of mission-focused policy work in Scotland and contributing to our UK Options 2040 project.

You will be responsible for keeping abreast of relevant policy developments, writing briefings, developing policy proposals, and building relationships both internally (across the wider Nesta team) and externally within Scotland.

You will be expected to:

  • Develop a solid understanding of policy focused-challenges in Scotland as well as how they are affected by place and devolution.
  • Interpret and synthesise insights from primary research, evidence reviews and data analysis in order to brief key stakeholders and partners.
  • Support the identification and development of policy thinking and options and in our Options 2040 work ensure that the differences, impact, opportunities and constraints of devolution are recognised throughout the development process.
  • Work closely with Nesta Scotland’s Communications and Engagement Manager (and wider Comms team) to produce public-facing outputs (such as blog posts, events or reports) as and when appropriate.
  • Support our Mission Managers to develop strategic policy and stakeholder maps and positions for each of our missions in Scotland.
  • Write incisive policy notes that draw on the latest research/evidence base and synthesise the best ideas from across Nesta.
  • Design and deliver rapid primary research projects that enable policy options to be weighed robustly and pragmatically. To do this, you will draw reliable insights out of quantitative datasets, and at times work with qualitative and user research experts to undertake qualitative research sprints.
  • Support the development of thought leadership and policy content for a range of audiences, working with the Communications team as part of a broader communications strategy for Nesta Scotland.
  • Support the Mission Managers and Head of Nation to cultivate strong and sustained relationships with contacts across government, parliament and other key organisations.

Your time will be split across two strands of work:

Developing mission-related policy work in Scotland (c. 60% of role)

As we ramp up our work in Scotland across our three missions, focusing on policy as a vehicle for, and an enabler of, innovation will become increasingly important in helping us achieve impact at scale. You’ll support the Scotland team to develop a strong understanding of the relevant policy landscape and opportunities, developing coherent policy positions, ensuring our policy asks are evidence-based and rigorously tested and help drive radical thinking in policy development.

UK Options 2040 (c. 40% of role)

UK 2040 Options supports policymakers as they make choices about what to prioritise and how to deliver: setting out alternative policy options and pathways for the future, creating space for honest debate about the trade-offs and testing and interrogating ideas that take us beyond immediate crises.

Working on a small number of our chosen policy areas, you will work with the UK Options 2040 team to ensure that the differences, impact of and opportunities generated by devolution are effectively recognised in our work and seek opportunities to engage Scotland based policy makers in the Options 2040 programme of work as appropriate.

Preferred skills, qualifications and experience:


  • Demonstrable understanding of how the Scottish government and parliament develops and implements policy and the role of evidence in this process.
  • Ability to interpret and summarise qualitative and quantitative data, academic evidence and government policy papers and to quality check and synthesise findings with ease.
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills. You can explain complex topics in simple terms and write clearly and concisely, adapting your communication to suit different audiences.
  • Strong ability and experience in building relationships with senior level policy stakeholders and external partners while managing all work to deadlines.
  • Strong ability to manage and develop yourself at work. You demonstrate high levels of initiative and willingness to take responsibility for your own workload and professional development.
  • Excellent teamwork and collaboration with a collaborative and solution-focused approach to problem-solving.
  • Willingness to work flexibly on policy topics outside of immediate expertise or preferred areas of interest


  • Proven experience in influencing Scottish Government policy (preferably in one of our three mission areas).
  • Experience in working with media team colleagues to shape and respond to relevant policy debates.

What we offer

Salary: £46k - £61.5k (offers are expected to be made towards the bottom of the band) plus an array of benefits, including health care plans, dental insurance, the ability to buy and sell annual leave, eyecare vouchers and more.

Location: This role is based in Edinburgh - hybrid working arrangement, we expect everyone in the Nesta Scotland to work from our Edinburgh office at least 2 days per week and be available for all key internal and external meetings. We expect this role to involve many key external meetings.

Term: 18 Month Fixed Term

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.

Reports to: Head of Nesta Scotland.

Application notes

To apply for this role, please submit your application before 08:00am on the 27 of November 2023.

First stage interviews will take place w/c 4 December 2023.

The link to apply can be found here.

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.

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.