Challenge Manager (1 post + 2 reserves)

Tallinn, Estonia


The Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) is NATO’s newest body. From across the Alliance, DIANA will bring together innovators and operational end users to foster a transatlantic ecosystem supporting ground-breaking dual-use innovation in emerging and disruptive technology fields.  

DIANA is now in the process of standing up, with the aim to reach full operational capability in 2025. Once established, DIANA will leverage a network of dozens of Allied test centres and accelerator sites to fulfil its mission. 

DIANA is an independent NATO body comprised of an Allied Board of Directors and a management team - the DIANA Executive (DX). Operating out of regional offices in Europe and in North America, DIANA will carry out its mission\: accelerating deep tech, dual-use solutions to critical Allied defence and security challenges. Guided by strategic direction from its Board, DIANA will use challenge, acceleration and rapid adoption programmes as the primary vehicles to accomplish this mission. 


DIANA’s Challenge Programmes will combine the vision and inspiration of the Challenge Manager with external insights and engagement from across the Alliance’s innovation ecosystems and the NATO Enterprise. DIANA will maintain a close working relationship with various Allied and NATO bodies, especially the Science and Technology Organisation, Allied Command Transformation, the Conference of National Armaments Directors, and others. Moreover, it will seek to establish industrial, academic, and international partnerships for the development and commercialization of emerging and disruptive technology areas.   

The Challenge Manager should join as an experienced professional from academic labs, government R&D, or the corporate sector and be ready to immediately leverage their deep technical knowledge and professional networks to drive the creation of new programs. Reporting to the Chief Technology Officer and/or Chief Scientist, they will work with R&D communities and stakeholders to establish the rigorous and ambitious program goals (including detailed technical milestones and other program activities) needed to manage a portfolio of sophisticated R&D projects. 

Duties of the role include\:  

  • Conduct and implement DIANA‘s Challenge Programs in collaboration with DIANA affiliated Acceleration Sites and Test Centers. 
  • Coordinate with stakeholders across the NATO enterprise and member nations to develop the biannual Strategic Direction document that is used to inform the design of DIANA’s Challenge Programs. 
  • Engage technically with DIANA-affiliated start-up companies and provide technical guidance and feedback during the Phase 1 of the Accelerator Program. 
  • Develop, refine, and update Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for DIANA’s Challenge Program(s), based on lessons learned from the pilot year (2023) and each ensuing year. 
  • Lead the selection and coordination of Evaluation Panels for each years’ Challenge program solicitations. 
  • Provide cross-functional support to the other strands of work of DIANA including, among other things, expert and technical advice on the legal framework and agreements with DIANA-affiliated Accelerator sites and Test Centres, the development of the rules and procedures of the Rapid Adoption Service, as well as DIANA’s other policies and procedures, and speak at public and private sector events as part of program-specific and DIANA-general outreach. 
  • Represent DIANA in different fora, including seminars, conferences, speaking engagements or official visits. Adapt and tailor the presentations to the needs and expectations of the audience. Contribute to public information efforts, including making technical presentations to relevant stockholders, providing briefings to the media, and representing the Alliance at conferences and symposia as needed. 
  • Perform any other related duty as assigned. 



The incumbent must\: 

  • Possess an advanced university degree from an institute of recognized standing or equivalent qualification, in a science or engineering field; 
  • Have at least 8 years’ experience in technology development, innovation and other STEM related fields; 
  • Have at least 4 years' experience engaging with private sector entrepreneurs, and/or commercial and academic innovators in EDT areas;  
  • Be familiar with government, industry, and/or academic laboratories, research and development (R&D), technology transfer, and tech-to-market;  
  • Have technical experience working and negotiating with experts from other fields, including across other functions and with military operational experts; 
  • Be experienced in a leadership position; 
  • Be experienced in project management; 
  • Possess the following minimum levels of NATO’s official languages (English/French)\: V (“Advanced”) in one; and I (“Beginner”) in the other.   


The following would be considered an advantage\:  

  • PhD degree in STEM relative fields; 
  • Experience in designing and executing and a challenge or technology competition programme involving criteria for selection, etc; 
  • Experience with or in accelerators/incubators with a deep tech focus; 
  • Experience working in a multilateral environment or an environment with a variety of stakeholders from multi-cultural backgrounds; 
  • Experience in providing guidance and mentorship to junior staff, interns, and students; 
  • Project Management Certification; 
  • Be conversant with the Alliance’s political and decision-making processes; 
  • Knowledge of and experience working with technical NATO bodies such as STO, NCIA, ACT, etc. 

    4. WHAT WE OFER 

  • Genuinely meaningful work as part of the newest unit within the most successful alliance in history. 
  • Tax-free salary. 
  • Household and children’s allowances and privileges for expatriate staff including expatriation and educational allowances (where applicable) and additional home leave. 
  • Excellent private health insurance scheme. 
  • NATO pension scheme. 
  • Generous annual leave of 30 days plus official holidays. 
  • Flexible working conditions and a smoke-free office in Tallinn. 
  • Opportunities for learning and development. 

In accordance with the NATO Civilian Personnel Regulations, the successful candidate will receive a definite duration contract of three years, which may be further extended by one year. 

If the successful applicant is seconded from the national administration of one of NATO’s member States, a 3-year definite duration contract will be offered, which may be renewed for a further period of up to 1 year subject to the agreement of the national authority concerned. The maximum period of service in the post as a seconded staff member is four years. 

Appointment will be subject to receipt of a security clearance (provided by the national Authorities of the selected candidate) and approval of the candidate’s medical file by the NATO Medical Adviser. 

Applicants who are not successful in this competition may be offered an appointment to another post of a similar nature, albeit at the same or a lower grade, provided they meet the necessary requirements. 

For more information on DIANA, please visit our website.  


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