The Oxford Foundry, a new entrepreneurial hub at the heart of Oxford University, has officially opened its doors.
The facility was launched this week by Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Inc.
Mr Cook described his invitation to the opening of the multi-million pound hub as a "privilege".
Offering the students in attendance advice on how to best use the facility, Mr Cook said: ‘Your focus group is yourself - you should make products that you want to use. You can bet if you love it, many other people out there will love it too.’
On team building, he added: 'Find people that are different than you, where the common thread is that they want to change the world.’
The 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. 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.
As a world-leading university, Oxford University has produced more founders of Unicorn businesses ($1 billion upwards) than any other in Europe, and has a strong history of students launching and establishing successful start-up companies. The Oxford Foundry will support the institution to continue to translate its academic research into innovative solutions with commercial and societal impact, on an international scale.
In Conversation with Tim Cook at the Oxford Foundry:
The exciting venture has been made possible by the generous support of a number of key donors, including: Reid Hoffman, Co-founder of LinkedIn, who provided the first $1 million dollars to get the project started.
Speaking in a video link he told the launch audience: ‘I was delighted to provide the initial seed financing for the Oxford Foundry. The future of jobs in these increasingly turbulent times is going to come from entrepreneurship. The Oxford Foundry will facilitate the ‘how’ in getting the new talent and ideas needed to solve the problems of the future.
‘It will connect ideas, talent and resources so that people can collaborate, learn entrepreneurship and create amazing, transformative ventures that will make a real impact, and ultimately make the world a better place.’
Other major donors include: the Amersi Foundation, EY, Barclays, Meltwater Fairhair.ai, and DeTao Education Group, an Advisory Board, chaired by Brent Hoberman, which will bring expertise, insight and advice to the Foundry community.
The Oxford Foundry will be build on the success and popularity of the Oxford Launchpad at Saїd Business School, which is home to the Entrepreneurship Centre and Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship.
Peter Tufano, Peter Moores Dean, Saïd Business School, who hosted the launch, said: ‘The Oxford Foundry will be a hub for innovation and idea-generation. By inspiring and developing new generations of Oxford student entrepreneurs we can hopefully transform their lives and our collective future.'
The Oxford Foundry was initiated and developed by Oxford Saїd for the benefit of the whole of the University. It will support students in three main ways:
Building a community
The Oxford Foundry will bring world renowned and inspirational figures to speak to students, creating an environment that encourages the exchange of ideas and views on the role of entrepreneurship and future ways of working. The Oxford Foundry will have a student advisory board and partnerships with student societies across the University, including Oxford Entrepreneurs, Europe’s largest society for entrepreneurship with over 10,000 members.
Students will be able to take part in problem solving competitions and workshops on areas such resilience, leadership, and digital skills. The Oxford Foundry will also work with both community and corporate partners to try new things and put ideas into practice.
Start-up support programme
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.’