#StartedinOxford Demo Night 2018 | University of Oxford
Demo Night 2018
Demo Night 2018

Credit: John Cairns

#StartedinOxford Demo Night 2018

By Leah Thompson

You would think that by the time you have done four events like this, that you would be cool, calm and collected, and ready for anything.  But of course, being entrepreneurial means that you are constantly tinkering and trying to improve the format . . . meaning that nothing is ever quite the same.  This event was no different. . . you spend half the time worrying that no one will show up, and the other half of the time worrying that everyone will show up! 

Demo Night 2018Demo Night 2018

Credit: John Cairns

And so began the fourth #StartedinOxford Demo Night, held in early November at Blackwell Hall, Weston Library.  21 startups, 16 sponsors and partners, and countless volunteers joined a full house of students, academics, local residents and businesspeople from Oxford and beyond in celebrating the Oxford entrepreneurial ecosystem.  There were early stage startups, spinouts and social enterprises with links to University of Oxford or Oxford Brookes University, and some who are based in Oxford (and a special guest slot for an Imperial College team!).  The strength and depth of the Oxford entrepreneurial scene really shone through

Demo Night 2018Demo Night 2018

By John Cairns

Each attendee was given 1000 #StartedinOxford dollars to "invest" in the startup they liked the most.  It was a great way to encourage the attendees to find out as much as they could about each venture.  After a welcoming introduction by Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research) at the University of Oxford, Professor Patrick Grant, the attendees were left to explore the hall, and to meet as many exhibitors as possible in the short time.   The ventures focused on everything from food, health, accessibility and shopping, to better cultural exchanges, data collection and creativity – using a massive range of innovative solutions.  In addition, there was a whole host of entrepreneurship support including The Careers Service, Begbroke Science Park, the Bioescalator, MPLS Enterprise and the Oxford Foundry, as well as external organisations such as the Oxford Hub, Oxfordshire LEP and Oxford Brookes Enterprise

Demo Night 2018Demo Night 2018
The hall was buzzing all evening; there were plenty of discussions between new friends and time to catch up with old ones too.  There were demonstrations, discussions, and exchanging of cards and information.  However it was soon time for the attendees to "invest" in their favourite startups, count up the cash, and declare the winners.  During the counting, we had two pitches: one from our previous winner, OxyClot (a medical startup developing a quick, non-invasive and accurate point of care diagnosis of DVT for use in GP practices) and Mitt (pictured), our guest team from Imperial College (a new type of prosthetic arm with a soft, comfortable socket with a range of simple, interchangeable hands designed for specific tasks).

Demo Night winners Common GroundDemo Night winners Common Ground

Credit: John Cairns

First prize went to Common Ground, the social enterprise pop-up café and social space supporting the community and student mental health. PodHealth, working on prevention-led, personalised healthcare, claimed second prize.  And third prize went to Wallaroo, providing nutritious fair-trade food snacks from community-based farms in compostable packaging. 

What made this evening so much fun was the relaxed atmosphere, and the ability of the attendees to speak directly with the startups.  Each person could directly ask questions, and interact with the teams, making it very personable and enjoyable.

A huge thank you to all the startups, our sponsors, the fabulous volunteers, and of course everyone who came and made the event a success! 

Leah Thompson (pictured at the top of the blog) is a Project Officer in the Knowledge Exchange and Impact Team, in Research Services.  She leads on Enterprising Oxford, a University of Oxford programme to connect and support entrepreneurship in the University and wider Oxford area.