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Oxford University to support social enterprise creation through innovation arm

Oxford University to support social enterprise creation through innovation arm

Oxford University has announced that it is now supporting the creation of social enterprises by its academics through its innovation arm Oxford University Innovation (OUI).

Until now, OUI has supported the creation of regular start-up businesses created by the student body, and ventures based on intellectual property from the University supported by OUI, known as spinouts.

Academics will now be able to receive support for creating businesses around ideas that may not be inherently patentable and will have the option of creating spinout companies focused on impact.


OUI has already begun creating social enterprises, the first of which will be announced in the coming weeks. Prior to launch, OUI built up a pipeline of over 25 social enterprises. To meet demand for the service, OUI has created a group led by Dr Mark Mann, Innovation Lead for Humanities and Social Sciences. Examples of some of the projects OUI will support include secure, cashless homeless donations app Greater Change and mobile and VR-based lifesaving emergency instruction platform LIFE.

OUI has also created a £550,000 social and environmental impact fund, SE2020, to support the development and acceleration of social or environmental ideas towards real-world positive impact, backed by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Dr Mark Mann, Innovation Lead for Humanities and Social Sciences at Oxford University Innovation, said:

“Colleagues at the University want to get as many of these great ideas deployed as widely as possible. To do that, you need a broad range of methods to maximise an idea’s impact. With our new social enterprise service, we can now get far more of the great ideas generated in Oxford deployed across the world and improving people’s lives. The legal and financial space is a complex one, but we can help academic teams to navigate it and to get the best solution for everyone.”

Dr Matt Perkins, Chief Executive Officer for Oxford University Innovation, said:

“The social enterprise option opens the door to innovation for impact-driven staff across all divisions of the University, supporting both the serial academic entrepreneur and the researcher looking to make their first innovative steps alike. Unlocking the potential of social enterprise is key to both the development of Oxford as a world-leading ecosystem and in shaping the future of business, and OUI stands ready to support this endeavour.”


Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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