Senior Policy Adviser-Emerging Technologies and Futures

Royal Society
  • Location
    London, United Kingdom
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Oct 30

Position description

The Royal Society is looking for an experienced policy professional to take up a senior role leading our work on emerging technologies and futures. The successful applicant for this role will have a strong track record of helping shape and inform corporate, national or international policy in science, research and technology, working with and through others to deliver tangible impact, and of building and leveraging senior stakeholder networks.

The main outputs of the Emerging Technologies programme are the Royal Society Perspective reports. These future-facing, speculative reports focus on emerging areas that could significantly impact humanity in the coming decades and consider the ethical, social, and regulatory issues they may raise. The first in the series, iHuman, focused on neural interfaces, the second on animate materials, and the third is in development, focusing on space. The programme aims to create the conditions for these technologies to develop in a well-governed way, so that their benefits can be extended to the widest part of society, and so that they can be applied to address critical policy and societal challenges.

This work is taken forward through the emerging technologies working party, which the postholder will be responsible for running and maintaining.

In addition to the Perspectives series, the Society is aiming to deliver a series of horizon scanning outputs. The successful candidate will be expected to take the work that has been developed and deliver regular outputs.

The postholder will work closely with colleagues across the Society to lead the Emerging Technologies programme. The programme is highly interdisciplinary, drawing together evidence from across sectors to provide the highest levels of thought leadership. The postholder will work closely with members of the Fellowship and with influential stakeholders at the heart of government, professional bodies and across the Academies to respond to and shape the landscapes of policy and governance. This will include commissioning original research, pushing forward work on evidence synthesis, conducting research and analysis, and drawing on a strong network of contacts across a broad and complex stakeholder ecosystem.


The postholder will enjoy exceptional visibility and will have experience of working with and influencing people at all levels of seniority. The ability to assess and report on technical information in a clear and concise manner is essential for this role. We are looking for a creative thinkers and effective problem solver, who will be adept at networking, motivating colleagues, building interdisciplinary relationships and working with committees, flexibly and at pace.

The postholder will have one direct report and access to administrative support.

We also expect the successful candidate to have the versatility and breadth of interests and skills to support work in other programmes as the need arises.


About the Royal Society

The Royal Society is the independent scientific academy of the UK, dedicated to promoting excellence in science for the benefit of humanity. We provide expert, independent advice to policymakers and the general public, championing the contributions that science can make to economic prosperity, quality of life and environmental sustainability.

We have one of the largest science policy teams in the UK and recent outputs have covered topics such as genetic technologies, low-carbon energy, computing education, neural interface technologies, artificial intelligence and future ocean resources. Drawing on the expertise of our Fellows, we use high quality science to guide and develop our policy advice. Through workshops and public dialogues we provide a forum for debate, bringing together diverse audiences to discuss the impact of science on current and emerging policy issues.

We undertake the following activities, on topics that reflect the Society’s priorities:

  • ProjectsAnalysing the scientific evidence relating to major policy issues in collaboration with other experts.
  • Reports & publications: Producing reports, statements, consultation responses and other publications on a regular basis.
  • EventsBringing together policymakers and scientists to discuss current topics in science policy.

The Society’s policy work is led by the science policy team, working closely with the Media Relations, Public Affairs, Public Engagement, International Affairs and Diversity & Industry Programme teams. Activities are undertaken by a team of Senior Policy Advisers and Policy Advisers who work across a range of themes and policy issues, according to priorities and their own expertise.

The Science Policy team’s role is to work with the Society’s Fellows and other experts to develop and promote independent, expert and timely advice to UK, European and international decision makers in matters of science policy. Science Policy’s partners include other academies, learned societies, funding agencies, government, industry and the public sector.

Reports to: Head of Policy, Resilience and Emerging Technologies

Location: Carlton House Terrace, London. plus hybrid working

Hours: 35 hours per week, full time

Pay Band: E

Salary: £ 43, 495 – £54,369

Contract type: Permanent

Closing date: 13 November 2023, 9am

Interviews will take place on 30th November and 5th December.


  • Leading and coordinating Royal Society policy work on issues relating to emerging technologies, which have included neural interface technologies, animate materials, and novel space technologies.
  • Run and maintain the emerging technologies working group.
  • Deliver and maintain a Royal Society horizon scan.
  • Maintain strong knowledge base on the policy and governance landscape relevant to emerging technologies.
  • Maintain a close working relationship with the innovation team.
  • Devising innovative ways of gathering evidence and insight on the development and use of a range of emerging technologies. This will include setting objectives and targets and agreeing them with the Head of Policy, Science Policy Advisory Group and, where appropriate, the Vice Presidents and the Council of the Royal Society.
  • A knowledge of innovation and or horizon scanning in practice is desirable.
  • Ensuring agreed projects and other activities are delivered on time, on budget and on scope.
  • Coordinating, drafting and editing policy studies, reports and other outputs.
  • Closely monitoring UK and international policy developments in this area.
  • Identification and analysis of scientific and policy issues of relevance to the Society’s priorities.
  • Using horizon-scanning and other futures and foresight methods to identify and scope new project opportunities.
  • Building national and international networks of influence with policymakers, scientists and other stakeholders at their own and at a higher level of seniority.
  • Representing the Society and its policy positions in meetings with government, policymakers and others.
  • Providing leadership to and line management of policy and project support staff.
  • Providing frequent advice to senior management, relevant Vice Presidents, Fellows and committees.
  • Alerting line managers on progress and discussing proposals for dealing with major problems.
  • Supporting the Policy Leadership Team to develop and implement the overall strategy for the Society.
  • Working with other groups in the Royal Society to ensure that policy messages which are created ae fully disseminated.
  • Contributing to other activities within the Royal Society as required.

Key Knowledge and Skills Required:



A minimum of degree (or equivalent)




  • Expertise in innovation or horizon scanning.
  • Skilled oral and written communication for technical and non-technical audiences
  • Assessment and reporting of technical information in a clear and concise manner
  • Self-organisation and management of several tasks simultaneously
  • Highly motivated and an ability to generate similar motivation in others
  • An enthusiastic team player, with experience of collaborative working
  • Creative thinking and problem solving



  • To have worked on a variety of innovation or horizon scanning projects at the corporate, national and/or international level
  • Delivering complex projects on time, on budget and on scope
  • Writing, editing and disseminating reports
  • Establishing and maintaining a network of contacts
  • Effective interaction with people at all levels of seniority



  • Managing staff or virtual teams, either formally or informally
  • Working with committees
  • Experience using futures and foresight methods


  • Able to be flexible about working hours on occasions
  • Able to undertake national and / or international travel on occasions


Self management

  • Identifies difficult situations
  • Recognises stress in others and takes steps to reduce it
  • Controls pressurised situations
  • Effectively enthuses those in the team
  • Proactively sets goals and targets for own work

Working with others

  • Actively seeks ideas and criticisms from within the team
  • Resolves conflicts within and between teams
  • Embeds feedback processes within the team
  • Seeks out new networks that will create opportunity for the Society
  • Able to present complex issues simply
  • Uses discretion, tact and empathy when negotiating with and/or seeking to influence others
  • Understands the need to manage expectations and to only promise what is deliverable

Resource management

  • Makes the best of internal/external resources and coordinates well with external partners to best meet the needs of the Society
  • Builds contingency into projects considering possible outside factors
  • Sets and monitors performance against quality and results orientated targets
  • Focuses on both short and long-term goals

Critical thinking

  • Uses questioning, analytical, and probing skills to ‘dig deeper’.
  • Knows when enough information has been obtained and adapts presentation of information to the needs of the audience.
  • Evaluates the benefits, practicalities, and value for money of ideas and obtains feedback.
  • Makes sound decisions in a complex or ambiguous environment and can gain support and manage challenges confidently.


  • Actively seeks the input and opinions of others, often outside his/her section and accommodates and incorporates this thinking into any output.
  • Actively seeks new challenges and projects; leads discussions surrounding new ideas, approaches, and projects.
  • Anticipates need for innovation and seeks new ideas, approaches and solutions.

Managing people and relationships

  • Sets expectations of others and ensures they deliver.
  • Demonstrates a positive attitude towards work, celebrating success and instilling confidence, which encourages the same from others.
  • Encourages others to share ideas and participate in the discussion and decisions of the team.
  • Assesses needs of clients/stakeholders/staff and makes plans to meet these needs.

Application instructions

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