Start a company | University of Oxford

Start a company

There are several ways that the university can help if you are interested in starting a company, or would like more information about the process.

The organisations listed below are well aware of the various support opportunities for starting new companies and will make introductions or referrals to each other keeping Oxford’s start-up scene lively and successful.

Oxford University Innovation

Oxford University Innovation is responsible for creating new spin-out companies from the University of Oxford with the academic founders, on behalf of the University of Oxford.

On first contacting Oxford University Innovation you will be connected to a Technology Transfer Manager, who will work with you to manage and develop the many activities involved in patenting, licensing and/or setting up a spin-out company. Oxford University Innovation works with University researchers to develop new business opportunities, identifying and sourcing investment, management and professional services. Oxford University Innovation also provides commercial advice, funds patent applications and legal costs, negotiates exploitation and spin-out company agreements, and identifies and manages consultancy agreements through Consulting Services support.

Over £500m has been raised in external investment by Isis spin-outs since 2000. Isis manages the Oxford University Challenge Seed Fund, the Oxford Invention Fund and the Oxford Angels Network; these are sources of funding which can contribute to the first round investments. 

See what Oxford University Innovation has to offer or read the starting a company brochure.

Isis also has hotdesks around the university. For more information please see Bringing Oxford University Innovation closer to researchers.

Contact Oxford University Innovation at andrea.alunni@innovation.ox.ac.uk, tel. +44 (0)1865 280843.

Oxford University Innovation Software Incubator

The Oxford University Innovation Software Incubator supports start-ups from the University’s ecosystem in the development of products or services and assists them to trade.

The Oxford University Innovation Software Incubator offers a wide spectrum of support services including commercial mentoring, Intellectual Property advice, assistance in identifying potential customers, enquiry handling and advice on formation of a limited company. Ventures are also provided with 24/7 access to a joint development space, and shared IT facilities. As each venture matures it may reach the stage where it requires external investment and the Incubator will support them in this too.

The ventures in the Incubator are at various stages of development. While they all share software as a theme, their application fields vary from energy usage analysis through text analytics to social media networks and data analysis.

Visit the incubator website or read the brochure for researchers (PDF).

Contact Oxford University Innovation Software Incubator at roy.azoulay@innovation.ox.ac.uk, tel. +44 (0) 1865 280969.

Entrepreneurship Centre

The Saïd Business School Entrepreneurship Centre runs business skills training and also funding for start-up companies.

Building a Business is a nine-week evening lecture series providing basic business skills to those who would like to start a business, and those with an existing business who are seeking to develop and enhance their skills. It covers good business practice with a focus on science and technology enterprise, but most course material is relevant to general business practice.

The course has been designed for students, researchers and University of Oxford members who want to find out more about the business functions of technology-based companies; staff from science and technology businesses and research organisations are also welcome to attend.

The Saïd Business School Seed Fund invests £15-25K in start-ups led by Oxford students and alumni. For first-time entrepreneurs not quite ready for investment, the Seed Fund Team also operates a Lean LaunchPad business model development programme to help entrepreneurs build business models and prepare their ventures for future funding. 

Learn more about Building a Business.

Contact the SBS Entrepreneurship Centre at entrepreneurship@sbs.ox.ac.uk, tel. +44 (0)1865 288845.

Enterprising Oxford

With a strong emphasis on local resources and upcoming events, Enterprising Oxford is a gateway for students and researchers to learn the basics of enterprise, from impact to intellectual property, to setting up a business or social venture, and lots of other things in-between. You can find out how enterprising skills could be relevant to you and your career, with inspiring case studies, events and training from across the Oxford community.

Visit the Enterprising Oxford website

Oxford Entrepreneurs

Launched in February 2002, Oxford Entrepreneurs is the largest student society at Oxford University and has now become the largest free business and entrepreneurship society in Europe with over 7,000 members.

The network includes undergraduates, graduates, MBA students, active alumni, and external members. Their mission is to encourage and support student entrepreneurship by providing inspiration, education, networking and the chance to learn the skills needed to succeed in business. They do this through Guest Speakers, Practical workshops, Networking events, Idea Idol Competition, Ideas2Market Programme and their Incubation Centre.

Visit the Oxford Entrepreneurs website.

Or contact Oxford Entrepreneurs directly.

Student Entrepreneurship

Examples of Student Entrepreneurship can be seen in the videos below.

Oxford Space Structures:Young entrepreneurs Fujia Chen and Julian Jantke talk about their start-up, Oxford Space Structures.

With the support of Oxford's Saïd Business School and the European Space Agency (ESA) Business Incubation Centre at Harwell Oxford, the student start-up Oxford Space Structures are developing a travel cot using ESA's intellectual property.

Social Entrepreneurship: Since 2012, the University of Oxford has run a Social Enterprise awards scheme, in collaboration with Student Hubs, as part of a programme funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and managed by UnLtd, the UK foundation for social entrepreneurs. The scheme has produced some very innovative projects in which students and staff aim to engage with the local community to solve social issues.

There are about 50 projects in and around Oxford led by students staff and graduates from the University of Oxford and from Oxford Brookes, who together with Students Hubs are our partners in a new initiative, the Oxford Social Enterprise Partnership (OSEP). In this short video some of the students from the University of Oxford talk about their social Enterprises and how they have used their Social Enterprise award funding to create sustainable social enterprises.

More information on starting a business

You can also find out more from the Government websites for business and starting a business.