Research Manager, Challenge Prize Centre

Olivier Usher


Challenge Prize Centre

Join Date

November 2015

What I do

Oli is Research Manager (Technology & Innovation) in the Challenge Prize Centre, helping identify and flesh out new prize topics and providing input into the design and development of the Centre’s prizes.


At Nesta he has participated in the development of a range of prizes, from driving innovation in aquaculture in India to the Open Up Challenge for small business fintech solutions in the UK. He leads the Challenge Prize Centre's work to identify and scope out new topics, and has worked on projects ranging from the safety of infrastructure to assistive technology for people with paralysis to the introduction of drones in cities. As part of this horizon scanning role, he oversees the Centre’s 'Challenges of our Era' research events series.

He previously worked in science public relations, including a period as Public Information Officer for an ESA centre in Munich, where he coordinated European media relations for the Hubble Space Telescope. He has also worked in journalism and co-authored a popular science book, The Universe through the Eyes of Hubble. He sits on the general committee of the British Science Association.

He holds a first class degree from UCL and a Master's from Cambridge, both in History and Philosophy of Science.

Outside of work, he enjoys cooking (preferably with lots of cream and butter, influenced by the French side of his family), Belgian beer and learning Italian.

Millions of people living in the UK are in work, but reliant on benefits to top up their wages. Despite working hard and doing the right thing, society isn’t working for them: this group are disproportionately likely to suffer poor mental health, to lack full and fair access to financial services and face barriers in accessing fulfilling careers.
Olivier Usher
Monday, 25 September 2017