UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Rowan Conway

Rowan Conway is Policy Fellow and Head of IIPP’s Mission Oriented Innovation Network, PhD Candidate at IIPP and Faculty lead on Transformation By Design Module, Master of Public Administration (MPA)

Rowan Conway

Rowan leads the Mission Oriented Innovation Network (MOIN at UCL’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP). MOIN brings together leading global policy-making institutions – including state investment banks, innovation agencies, cities and government departments to share the challenges and opportunities they face when trying to create and nurture public value. Our methodology is based on co-creation between policy actors (network partners) and academic researchers, and this “practice-based theorising” begins with defining and testing new ideas about economics and the broader political economy, then bringing them into real world contexts through live projects and activities. In the last year, Rowan has built on the seminal work that the Institute has done with the European Commission and with the Scottish Government to extend this work into a range of government departments such as the New Zealand Department for Climate Change, supranational organisations such as UNESCAP and public institutions such as the BBC.

As part of her work at the Institute, Rowan teaches strategic design and is module lead and course lecturer for the Transformation by Design semester of IIPP’s MPA in Innovation, Public Policy and Public Value.

Prior to joining UCL, Rowan was Director of Innovation at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) where she set up the RSA Lab, an experimental space that uses design methods to explore, prototype and test research insights and policy ideas with government agencies, NGOs, academic partners, NHS Trusts, businesses and social enterprises. She designed and led a range of action research programmes on the future of work, deliberative democracy, tech and society, circular economy and systems innovation. Prior to that she has 15 years’ experience leading a wide range of design and engagement processes, notably the community participation in the design process for London 2012 Olympic Park. She holds an MSc in Responsibility and Business Practice from the University of Bath and is a PhD Candidate at IIPP.


Selected Publications


Purpose-driven innovation in a time of COVID-19 Beyond the Cummings plan: the skills that civil servants will need this decade “How to be a public entrepreneur”


Mission Oriented Innovation | Jerffrey Sachs, Mariana Mazzucato, Carlota Perez, Rowan Conway | RSA Replay Think like a system, act like an entrepreneur – presentation at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Annual Summit 2017. How to be an Impact Entrepreneur | Rowan Conway | RSA Replay (from 16 minutes in)