Role details

Board Member of the Advisory Group on a Commercial Approach to Defra’s Research and Development (R&D) and Innovation Funding

Application deadline 3 June 2024


DEFRA Departmental Board
Sponsor department
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Environment, Agriculture & Fishing
Business, Commercial, Technology / Digital, Legal, Judicial, Procurement, Regulation
Number of vacancies
Time commitment
2 day(s) per month
£39 per hour
Length of term
Three months unless extended with agreement from Defra’s Secretary of State.
Application deadline
Midday on 3 June 2024

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Timeline for this appointment

  1. Opening date

    13 May 2024

  2. Application deadline

    Midday on 3 June 2024

  3. Sifting date

    25 June 2024

  4. Interviews expected to end on

    19 July 2024

Timeline dates are only an estimate and can change

About the role


Advisory Group on a commercial approach to Defra’s R&D and Innovation Funding
This Advisory Group is a new body which will provide external expertise on how to deploy Defra’s Research and Development (R&D) and Innovation funding to better support innovators in Defra sectors on their journey to becoming thriving UK businesses and, within that, exploring how Defra can realise the commercial potential of this support. 
The Advisory Group will bring together experts from a range of relevant backgrounds in finance, green finance, venture capital, intellectual property, innovation and government.
We are seeking to appoint members to the Advisory Group 
This is a unique opportunity to explore how Defra can realise the commercial potential of its R&D and innovation funding, driving innovation while delivering better value for money for taxpayers.  
The Advisory Group will consider a range of opportunities, the financing mechanisms available to government to unlock the potential and achieve its objectives, analyse the risks and opportunities these present and assess their suitability for Defra’s context. The Advisory Group will present their findings to Defra’s Secretary of State. The findings will help inform the department’s future activity in this sphere.   

Introduction from the Secretary of State

I am recruiting for an Advisory Group to provide advice on how to deploy Defra’s Research and Development (R&D) and innovation funding to better support innovators in Defra sectors on their journey to becoming thriving UK businesses.

As a member of this group, you will advise me how Defra can share in the success of those we support, and in turn boost innovation, growth, and productivity for the nation.

You will apply your expertise to explore the opportunities of a range of financing mechanisms, to explore the opportunities of a range of financing mechanisms, from joint ventures, revenue sharing arrangements and setting up a new fund that maximises the benefits of Defra's agricultural and environmental R&D. 

Your expertise will bolster our understanding of the innovation and investment landscape. I invite you to use your experience to provide constructive and open challenge on the appropriateness of the range of options. You will explore the opportunities of the different approaches and recommend how to move forwards in this exciting area.

I welcome applications from 13 May to our open application process. 

Thank you for your interest in the role.

Role description

The role of an Advisory Group Member is to:
  • Attend Advisory Group meetings, participate in high-quality discussion with other board members. 
  • Provide expertise on the following areas to facilitate high quality recommendations to Defra’s Secretary of State: 
  • Advise on the effectiveness and suitability of a range of financing mechanisms available for commercialising Defra’s R&D and other innovation spend. This could include bolstering existing government interventions, or use of interventions less commonly used by government such as revenue sharing, convertible loans, licensing of Intellectual Property, taking equity, creating a joint venture, and setting up a new fund that maximises the benefits of Defra's agricultural and environmental R&D. 
  • Provide an overview of the opportunities and risks of the different options for commercialising R&D and other innovation. 
  • Advise on whether these options for commercialising innovation would be suitable in a Defra context.
Assess case studies and identify lessons learned from where commercialisation of R&D and innovation funding has been successful e.g. in another sector in the UK or other countries, and highlighting the role of government; what types of partnerships can be adopted, what administrative, legal and commercial decisions were required and considering whether overseas examples are applicable within UK regulations.
  • Consideration of legal expertise to help inform the recommendations of the Advisory Group
  • Uphold the principles of public life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.
The Group will receive administrative support from a small policy/secretariat team from Defra.

Organisation description

Public investment in research plays a valuable role in generating new innovations. Often companies require further funding to turn ideas from research into marketable products in the form of innovation grants and investments.  
At present, the majority of Defra’s research budget is used for R&D contracts to provide evidence to inform policy making and drive innovation to generate economic growth and productivity through funding recipients with one-off grants to derisk the development of new technologies. 
However, innovators in Defra sectors face challenges accessing finance for the final stages of scaling-up innovations. This can lead to missed commercial opportunities with innovative products and services of strategic interest not reaching the market, moving overseas or losing out to international competitors.
This Advisory Group will explore how Defra can use a range of financing mechanisms to support innovators to overcome these barriers on their journey to becoming successful and to share in their commercial success where this has resulted from Defra funding. This extends to considering the appropriateness and means of seeking commercial returns to government from IPR generated from successful Defra funded R&D activities. 
The Advisory Group’s expertise will result in recommendations to Defra’s Secretary of State that aim to drive social and economic growth across the UK, particularly in the rural economy, and support businesses that address Defra policy goals while delivering good value for money for the taxpayer.
The purpose, objectives and ways of working for the partnership are described in the partnership agreement and terms of reference.

Person specification

Essential criteria

Successful candidates must demonstrate expertise in one or more of the following areas:

  • Finance, green finance and venture capital. How the following financing mechanisms can be applied in a government context: public-private partnerships, blended finance, revenue sharing, convertible loans, licensing of Intellectual Property, taking equity, creating a joint venture, setting up a fund etc. 
  • Legal and/or technical expertise in intellectual property rights, particularly in a public sector context. 
  • Significant business acumen or experience in working with complex organisations and driving change, including a proven track record at Board or equivalent level in the private or public sector in a comparable organisation.
  • Innovation and tech. 
  • Academia or thought leadership exploring the future of government support to R&D and innovation.

Candidates must also be able to demonstrate the following: 

  • An enthusiasm for and genuine interest in exploring how Defra can drive commercially successful innovation in its sectors.
  • Strong analytical skills with the capacity to examine issues at a strategic level in ways which are impartial, creative and focused on finding solutions, including driving forward substantial change.

Advisory Group members are appointed by DEFRA Ministers and are accountable for the wider work of the Advisory Group and for reporting to Ministers for the Advisory Group’s delivery of its final outputs. Communications between the Advisory Group and the Ministers shall, in the normal course of business, be conducted through the Advisory Group Chair. 

Application and selection process

How to apply

To apply for this post, please submit your application to by the closing date: 12 noon (midday) on Monday 3 June 2024.

All candidates are required to provide:  

  • a CV of no more than two sides of A4; 
  • a supporting statement of not more than 500 words (approximately two sides of A4), setting out how you meet the essential criteria – make sure you refer to the contents of this document and provide specific examples; 
  • e-mail addresses for two referees; 
  • a completed monitoring form 1 (Conflict of interest conduct and political activity Questionnaire); 
  • a completed monitoring form 2 (Diversity Questionnaire);

For further information please email

The Advisory Assessment Panel reserves the right to only consider applications that contain all of the elements listed above, and that arrive before the published deadline for applications.

Overview of the application process

Public appointments are made on merit following a fair and open competition process which is conducted in accordance with the Governance Code for Public Appointments. We will deal with your application as quickly as possible and will keep you informed at key stages. We aim to conclude the appointment process within three months of the deadline for applications – this is in accordance with the Governance Code.

The assessment process

  1. Ministers are responsible and accountable to Parliament for the public appointments made within their department. As a result, they must be consulted at every stage of the appointments process.

  2. An Advisory Assessment Panel (“Panel”) is appointed by Ministers to assist them in their decision making. The role of the Panel is to decide, objectively, which candidates meet the eligibility criteria for the role.

  3. At the shortlisting meeting the Panel will assess applications against the eligibility criteria and decide which candidates have best met the criteria, who should be recommended for interview. Ministers will then be consulted on the Panel’s recommended shortlist. If you have applied under the Disability Confident Scheme and you meet all the essential criteria, then you will also be invited for an interview.

  4. Once the shortlist has been agreed by Ministers, you will be advised (by e-mail) whether you have been shortlisted. Those shortlisted will be invited to an interview.

  5. The Panel will meet again to interview candidates and determine who is appointable to the role. The Panel may invite you to make a brief presentation at the start of the interview and will go on to question you about your skills and experience, including asking specific questions to assess whether you meet the criteria set out for the post. The Panel will also explore with you any potential conflicts of interest or any other issues arising from your personal and professional history which may impact on an appointment decision.

  6. Details of the panel’s assessment of interviewed candidates are provided to Ministers, including whether they have judged a candidate to be appointable to the role. It is then for Ministers to determine merit and decide who should be appointed. In some circumstances, Ministers may choose not to appoint any candidates and re-run the competition.

  7. Ministers may choose to meet with candidates before deciding the outcome. Candidates should therefore be prepared for a short time gap between interview and a final appointment decision being made. Candidates who have been interviewed will be kept informed of progress.

  8. Once the decision on the appointment has been made, interviewed candidates will be advised of the outcome of their application, including whom they may approach for feedback. Successful candidates will be issued with their Terms & Conditions and a letter of appointment should they agree to take up the position.

Further information about appointments, including tips on applying, can be found on our guidance pages on

Advisory Assessment Panel (AAP)

Gideon Henderson - Defra Chief Scientific Advisor - Department Official - Panel Chair 
Nick Jones - Defra Deputy Director - Commercial - Department Official 
Sarah Evered - Defra Deputy Director - Farming, Innovation and Science - Department Official 
Elizabeth Passey - NED Chair of Rural Payments Agency - Senior Independent Panel Member
Advisory Assessment Panels (AAP) are chosen by ministers to assist them in their decision-making. These include a departmental official and an independent member. For competitions recruiting non-executive members of a board (apart from the Chair), the panel will usually include a representative from the public body concerned.
AAP’s perform a number of functions, including agreeing an assessment strategy with ministers, undertaking sifting, carrying out interviews in line with the advertised criteria and deciding objectively who meets the published selection criteria for the role before recommending to ministers which candidates they find appointable. It is then for the minister to decide who to appoint to the role.

Eligibility criteria

In general, you should have the right to work in the UK to be eligible to apply for a public appointment.

There are a small number of specialist roles that are not open to non-British citizens. Any nationality requirements will be specified in the vacancy details.

The Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards. 

You cannot be considered for a public appointment if:

  • you are disqualified from acting as a company director  (under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986);

  • have an unspent conviction on your criminal record;

  • your estate has been sequestrated in Scotland or you enter into a debt arrangement programme under Part 1 of the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 (asp 17) as the debtor or have, under Scots law, granted a trust deed for creditors.

When you apply, you should declare if:

  • you are, or have been, bankrupt or you have made an arrangement with a creditor at any point, including the dates of this. 

  • you are subject to a current police investigation.

You must inform the sponsor department if, during the application process, your circumstances change in respect of any of the above points. 

When you apply you should also declare any relevant interests, highlighting any that you think may call into question your ability to properly discharge the responsibilities of the role you are applying for. You should also declare any other matters which may mean you may not be able to meet the requirements of the Code of Conduct of Board Members (see Outside interests and reputational issues section below)

Security clearance

The successful candidate will be required to undertake Baseline Personnel Security Standard checks in line with the Civil Service guidelines. Additional Security Clearance may also be required for certain roles. However, where this applies, candidates will be notified during the appointment process. Further information on National Security Vetting can be found on the website here.

Additional information for candidates

Equality and diversity

We encourage applications from talented individuals from all backgrounds and across the whole of the United Kingdom. Boards of public bodies are most effective when they reflect the diversity of views of the society they serve and this is an important part of the Government’s levelling up agenda.
We collect data about applicants’ characteristics and backgrounds, including information about people’s educational and professional backgrounds, so that we can make sure we are attracting a broad range of people to these roles and that our selection processes are fair for everyone. Without this information, it makes it difficult to see if our outreach is working, if the application process is having an unfair impact on certain groups and whether changes are making a positive difference.
When you submit your application, your responses are collected by the Cabinet Office and the government department(s) managing your application. The data is used to produce management information about the diversity of applicants. You can select “prefer not to say” to any question you do not wish to answer. The information you provide will not be seen by the Advisory Assessment Panel who review applications against the advertised criteria and conduct interviews.

Disability confident

We are a member of the Government’s Disability Confident scheme. We use the Disability Confident scheme symbol, along with other like-minded employers, to show our commitment to good practice in employing people with a disability. The scheme helps recruit and retain disabled people. As part of implementing the scheme, we guarantee an interview for anyone with a disability whose application meets the essential criteria for the role, set out in the advert, and who has asked that their application is considered under the scheme. Indicating that you wish your application to be considered under the scheme will in no way prejudice your application. By ‘essential criteria', we mean that you must provide evidence which demonstrates that you meet the level of competence required under each of the essential criteria, as set out in the job-advert. When you apply you will have the opportunity to select if you would like your application considered under this scheme.

Reasonable adjustments

We are committed to making reasonable adjustments to make sure applicants with disabilities, physical or mental health conditions, or other needs are not substantially disadvantaged when applying for public appointments. This can include changing the recruitment process to enable people who wish to apply to do so.
Some examples of common changes are:
  • ensuring that application forms are available in different or accessible formats;
  • making adaptations to interview locations;
  • allowing candidates to present their skills and experience in a different way;
  • giving additional detailed information on the selection / interview process in advance to allow candidates time to prepare themselves;
  • allowing support workers, for example sign language interpreters;
  • making provision for support animals to attend.
When you apply you will have the opportunity to request reasonable adjustments to the application process.

Principles of public life

The Seven Principles of Public Life (also known as the Nolan Principles) apply to anyone who works as a public office-holder.
1. Selflessness
Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
2. Integrity
Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
3. Objectivity
Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
4. Accountability
Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
5. Openness
Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
6. Honesty
Holders of public office should be truthful.
7. Leadership
Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour and treat others with respect. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

Code of conduct for board members

The Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards. In support of this, all non-executive board members of UK public bodies must abide by the principles set out in the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. The Code sets out the standards expected from those who serve on the boards of UK public bodies and will form part of your terms and conditions of appointment.

Management of outside interests and consideration of reputational issues

Holders of public office are expected to adhere and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life and the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. Before you apply you should consider carefully: 
  • any outside interests that you may have, such as shares you may hold in a company providing services to government; 
  • any possible reputational issues arising from your past actions or public statements that you have made; 
  • and/or - any political roles you hold or political campaigns you have supported; 
which may call into question your ability to do the role you are applying for.
You will need to answer relevant questions in relation to these points when making an application. Many conflicts of interest can be satisfactorily resolved and declaring a potential conflict does not prevent you from being interviewed. If you are shortlisted for an interview, the panel will discuss any potential conflicts with you during that interview, including any proposals you may have to mitigate them and record that in their advice to ministers. Alongside your own declaration, we will conduct appropriate checks, as part of which we will consider anything in the public domain related to your conduct or professional capacity. This may include searches of previous public statements and social media, blogs or any other publicly available information. The successful candidate(s) may be required to give up any conflicting interests and their other business and financial interests may be published in line with organisational policies. 
Details of declared political activity will be published when the appointment is announced, as required by the Governance Code (political activity is not a bar to appointment, but must be declared).

Status of appointment

As this is an office holder appointment, you will not become a member of the Civil Service. You will not be subject to the provisions of employment law.

Appointment and tenure of office

Appointments are for the term set out in this advert, with the possibility of re-appointment for a further term, at the discretion of Ministers.  Any re-appointment is subject to satisfactory annual appraisals of performance during the first term in the post. There is no automatic presumption of reappointment; each case should be considered on its own merits, taking into account a number of factors including, but not restricted to, the diversity of the current board and its balance of skills and experience. In most cases, the total time served in post will not exceed more than two terms or ten years in any one post. 

Remuneration, allowances and abatement

Remuneration for this role is treated as employment income and will be subject to tax and National Insurance contributions, both of which will be deducted at source under PAYE before you are paid. 
You can claim reimbursement for reasonable travel and subsistence costs which are properly and necessarily incurred on official business, in line with the travel and subsistence policy and rates for the organisation to which you are applying. However these payments are taxable as earnings and will be subject to tax and national insurance, both of which will be deducted at source under PAYE before you are paid. 

Pension and redundancy

This is an office holder appointment and does not attract any benefits under any Civil Service Pension Scheme. You will not be eligible for redundancy pay as you are not an employee. No other arrangements have been made for compensation upon the end of your term of appointment because an office holder who is appointed for a limited duration would have no expectation of serving beyond that period.

Application feedback

We will notify you of the status of your application. We regret that we are only able to offer detailed feedback to candidates who have been unsuccessful at the interview stage.

How to complain

We aim to process all applications as quickly as possible and to treat all applicants with courtesy.
Please contact the public appointments team in the first instance if you would like to make a complaint regarding your application at They will acknowledge your complaint upon receipt and respond within 15 working days.

Data protection

The Cabinet Office will use your data in line with our privacy policy.