Consulting Services at OUI provides support to academics in the Division with opportunities to engage in complex projects locally, nationally and internationally.

One of the distinctive features of the Social Sciences Division, at least from the perspective of Oxford University Innovation, is that it is the source of more entrants to the Startup Incubator than any other Division. The Incubator supports members and ex-members of the University of Oxford wanting to start or grow entrepreneur-driven ventures that are not University spinouts.

Startup Cycle.land was co-founded by Agne Milukaite who previously had completed her Masters in Migration Studies at Oxford. The company provides a platform for sharing bikes, and, after two months in the Incubator, launched in Oxford. Rapid adoption of the service, with hundreds of bikes being rented out by Oxford locals, led to a crowdfunding campaign for expansion with a goal of £100K. The success of this campaign – which ultimately raised over £400K – is allowing Cycle.land to introduce the service into other towns and cities, initially in the UK but with plans to expand worldwide.

Consulting Services at OUI provides support to academics in the Division with opportunities to engage in complex projects locally, nationally and internationally. This year HS2, the UK’s major infrastructure project to provide a high-speed railway linking midlands and northern cities to London, provided an opportunity for academics from the Environmental Change Institute to assess the possible impacts of climate change in interdependent systems alongside the track. Consulting Services facilitated the commercial arrangements, enabling academic consultants to develop and implement a methodology that provides HS2’s designers and engineers with a holistic understanding of risk attributable to other interdependent utilities such as electricity, gas, water etc.

Back in 2012 Onfido exited the Incubator with a revenue generating service, using machine learning, that offered identity verification for recruitment. CEO Husayn Kassai had studied Economics and Management, and has subsequently led the company to expand internationally. During the year it raised a Series B round of $25m, hit a milestone of 1000 customer engagements, and expanded its operations to the UK, Europe and the US.

Looking to the future, Innovative ideas from the Social Sciences and Humanities Divisions need funding to progress despite generally lacking intellectual property assets. This means that they are not well served by the commercialisation approaches used for projects from the ‘hard sciences’, and so we started to prepare the launch of a new Investment Forum to introduce seed investors to idea-based ventures, to address this gap.

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