01/11/2017 – News / Oxford Foundry / Oxford University / Apple Inc / UK

Oxford Uni’s new entrepreneurial hub could close start-up gap with rival Cambridge

Launched last week by Tim Cook – CEO of Apple Inc. – the Oxford Foundry is a new entrepreneurial hub at the heart of Oxford University. The student-centric venue aims to build a community of innovation across the University, inspiring and supporting Oxford’s 23,000 students to develop their entrepreneurial skills or create and scale commercial ventures.


“The Oxford Foundry will embrace students across all academic disciplines from engineering, medicine, history, philosophy and more,” outlined an official release on the opening of the hub. “It will be a place for students from different backgrounds to experiment, learn from one another, and generate ideas and initiatives that address business and societal issues: whether their ambition is to launch their own start-up or to develop an entrepreneurial mind-set to drive innovation from within an organisation. Students will be encouraged to play a major role in designing and leading activities.”


Oxford University has produced more founders of Unicorn businesses (US$1 billion upwards) than any other in Europe, the website notes. Be that as it may, a report by Tech City stated that, on average, 353 technology start-ups were created annually in Cambridge from 2011-2015, compared with 232 in Oxford. Meanwhile, information collated by investment firm Beaufort finds in terms of venture capital funding for start-ups, Cambridge also comes out on top – from 2011-2016, those new ventures obtained £1.3bn compared to the £840m that Oxford start-ups secured. The establishment of the Foundry could prove a significant step in closing this gap between the two rival educational institutions.


Building on the success and popularity of the Oxford Launchpad at Saїd Business School – home to the Entrepreneurship Centre and Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship – the Oxford Foundry was initiated and developed by Oxford Saїd for the benefit of the whole of the University. 


Each year the Oxford Foundry will support the starting and scaling of a select number of student ventures. Support will include dedicated working space at the Oxford Foundry, access to networks, industry experts and back office support.


The Oxford Foundry is housed in a renovated Victorian ice factory in central Oxford and is spread over two floors. It offers co-working space, presentation areas, and a café at ground level – enabling entrepreneurially-minded people to meet, collaborate, create new ventures, or build the skills to bring innovation into their careers. Upstairs, there is an incubator space for accelerating new ventures.


Ana Bakshi, Director of the Oxford Foundry said: “Entrepreneurship is of increasing importance to students. As a generation, millennials desire to be more socially responsible, innovative and to make an impact. Whether starting their own ventures or aspiring to lead in organisations, the Oxford Foundry will develop students’ entrepreneurial skills, understanding and self-efficacy. The aim is to create future leaders whatever career they pursue.”

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