Innovation Conversations | University of Oxford
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Innovation Conversations

Celebrating the Vice-Chancellor’s Innovation Awards 2020

I am delighted that in spite of the current circumstances we are able to celebrate the quality and breadth of research-led innovation across the University, albeit online rather than in person. It has been simply wonderful to see the calibre and the diversity of projects undertaken here in Oxford, even before our latest innovative responses to the challenges of COVID-19.

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor

The Vice-Chancellor's Innovation Awards 2020 celebrate research-led innovation at all University levels that is having societal or economic impact. Now a series of online Innovation Conversations, taking place throughout September, offer the chance to hear more from each of the Winners, and ask questions about their award-winning research. The series will culminate on 7 October in a livestreamed panel discussion, chaired by Professor Chas Bountra, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Innovation, asking 'How do universities deliver economic value?'

Please note that there is no need to sign up in advance, although there is an email option for submitting advance questions.

Recordings of the talks will be available immediately after the broadcast on the same links.

You can find out more about the Awards and all of 2020’s Winners and Highly Commended entries on the Vice-Chancellor’s Innovation Awards pages.

Talk 1: Rethinking Conflict, Building Peace 

Friday 4 September, 3pm–4pm

Dr Annette Idler (Winner of Early Career Category) and Juan Manuel Santos, former President of Colombia (2010-2018) and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (2016)

Dr Idler leads an interdisciplinary 18-person team that brings together ethnographic fieldwork with quantitative analysis, complexity science, visualisation techniques, visual arts and historical tracing to provide evidence-based guidance on the directions and pace of change in conflict.

Talk 2: Guiding Nightstar 

Wednesday 9 September, 2.30–3pm

Professor Robert MacLaren (Overall Winner & Winner of Inspiring Leader Category)

Gene therapy may help to slow or even stop the degeneration in genetic eye diseases. Research led by Professor Robert MacLaren led to the spinout of Nightstar which was acquired by Biogen for $877 million in early 2019 – just five years after its founding. The deal ranks as the third most valuable British biotech exit in the last two decades.

Talk 3: Calling the Shots 

Tuesday 15 September, 1.30–2pm

Professor Andrew Pollard (Winner of Policy Engagement Category)

The team led by Professor Andrew Pollard developed a model of human infection in Oxford, tested a new generation typhoid vaccine and showed that it worked. The data from this study supported World Health Organisation (WHO) global policy recommendations on use of the vaccine for all children from 9 months to 15 years of age in high burden areas, and release of $85M funding by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) to help low income countries introduce the vaccine.

Talk 4: Written in Stone 

Wednesday 23 September, 1–1.30pm

Professor Jonathan Prag (Winner of Building Capacity Category)

Professor Jonathan Prag has been studying the history of ancient Sicily for twenty years. Over that time he has developed a digital, online, open access corpus (I.Sicily) as a research tool and the foundation for an innovative series of collaborations to make the material accessible to a much wider public.

Talk 5: Saving Lives with SEREN 

Wednesday 30 September, 1–1.30pm

Professor Anna Schuh and Dr Clara Chamba (Winner of Teamwork Category)

SEREN is a social enterprise based at the Muhimbili University for Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania that aims to build local capacity for precise, low-cost, low-maintenance, patient-near DNA diagnostics solutions to prevent the needless deaths of thousands of children and young adults with blood diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Panel Discussion: How do universities deliver economic value?

Wednesday 7 October, 1–2pm

Chaired by Professor Chas Bountra, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Innovation

Join Professor Chas Bountra, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Innovation, as he chairs an expert panel of

  • Wendy Becker, Chairperson Logitech International S.A.
  • Sam Gyimah, Board Director, Oxford University Innovation and former Minister for Universities, Science, Sustainability and Innovation
  • Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor, Keele University and KE Champion, Research England
  • Dr Tony Soteriou, Director of Commercialisation, UK Research and Innovation

and they discuss how universities can work together within their wider networks to accelerate innovation, support industry, realise national synergies and address global challenges.