Halima Khan

Halima Khan

Areas of Interest

Charity, Health Care

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of Science, 2015


Halima, Cambridge resident is a Director at Nesta’s Innovation Lab. Nesta is the UK’s innovation foundation, a charity which develops and scales new ways of solving social challenges through grants, investment and research.  She is also a trustee of Dementia UK.

Halima leads Nesta’s work on health and ageing with a particular focus on long-term conditions. Most recently Halima led the People Powered Health programme which explored more collaborative ways for health professionals and people with long term conditions to interact, building on care planning and social prescribing. The programme argued for a health and care system that is much better at combining clinical expertise with supported self-management and social networks that provide people with the emotional and practical support to live well with their conditions.

Halima holds a number of health and ageing advisory roles including at the Health Foundation and the Big Lottery Fund and recently published ‘Five hours a day: systemic innovation for an ageing population’.

Before joining Nesta, Halima worked in national and local government. Between 2002 and 2010, Halima was at the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit in the Cabinet Office, advising the Prime Minister and No.10 on a range of domestic policy issues, particularly individual budgets, disability policy and social care. Halima has also worked at the London Borough of Camden, leading the council’s citizen participation work, community strategy and research. Halima has degrees from Oxford University and the Harvard Kennedy School where she gained a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) and was awarded a Knox Fellowship.

Halima brings to the board strategic and practical experience of the health sector and government and a strong commitment to improving the lives of people with or at risk of diabetes. Outside of work, Halima spends as much time as possible with her young family, bikes around Cambridge where she lives and occasionally manages to find time for a yoga class.


Halima Khan is a Board Trustee of Diabetes UK, previously a Council Member of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, and Executive Director of the Health Lab at Nesta – the UK’s leading innovation charity.

Educated at Oxford University, where she gained a First in Geography, Halima Khan won a Knox Fellowship to study for her Masters in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  After graduating, her early career was focussed on the field of International Development in Pakistan and South Africa, and with the United Nations Development Programme.  This experience was to prove good preparation as she turned her attention to challenges closer to home.

In 2005, Halima was appointed as Head of Strategy for the London Borough of Camden, leading the Council’s work on citizen participation and community strategy.  In 2007, she became Deputy Director at the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, where she developed policy advice for Number 10 and Cabinet Office ministers on a range of domestic issues, including health and social care.  Then, in 2010 she joined Nesta, where Halima was initially Director of the Innovation Lab.  There she has worked with innovators across public services, civil society and business to develop and scale new responses to social challenges, such as ageing and public service reform.  The aim of the Innovation Lab is to “incubate and scale disruptive innovation for the public good.”

This year Halima became Executive Director of the newly launched Health Lab at Nesta.  The Health Lab brings together Nesta’s practical work on health and ageing and aims to create a People Powered Health system.  This means providing healthcare for people when they need it, enabling people to manage their health in their everyday life, and connecting people into networks that help support one another.  Health Lab’s work is based on the concept of ‘co-production’, where solutions are designed and delivered with people rather than for people.  It has been estimated that the NHS in England could save around £4.4billion a year by adopting People Powered Health innovations.

Health Lab projects under Halima’s leadership include People Powered Results in which Nesta works with frontline health and care professionals to achieve meaningful change in 100 days.  And ‘Realising the Value’, a programme to identify evidence-based approaches that engage people and communities in their own health and care.  Health Lab also works on digital health and particularly building communities of patients who use smartphones and wearables to create data that is useful to them day to day and which is also clinically valid.

In 2013, Halima published Five hours a day: systemic innovation for an ageing population, in which she makes a compelling case for a systematic review of how we live our lives within an ageing society.  

A resident of Cambridge, Halima has spent her career to date striving to improve the lives of people with a wide range of health and social problems, and as such, she is an excellent role model for our students.