All-Innovate TT winners '21

The winners of the Oxford Foundry's flagship All-Innovate competition for Hilary term were announced in March after a fantastic final, and we’re now delighted to announce the four winners of the Trinity term competition.

Ten teams from the 33 participating Oxford colleges pitched their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of expert judges for the chance to win a share of £25,000.

A huge congratulations to CyanoCapture of Christ Church, who won the award for ‘Best Idea’ and £10,000 grant funding and follow-on support. Co-founded by David Kim, a postgraduate in Medicine, and Samir Chitnavis, Masters in Biology, Jesus College, CyanoCapture is a carbon capture biotech company that provides affordable carbon capture on an industrial scale by harnessing genetically modified cyanobacteria and transforming it into raw materials.

“To win All-Innovate is a more than pleasant surprise! Whilst we’re no doubt delighted to receive such a glowing endorsement from the Foundry and the judges involved in the competition, the most inspiring aspect of the competition is the desire of students from across the university to put in extra hours from their degrees and translate theory into application.

“We found the most valuable aspects of the workshops were learning how to condense all the information we had into a two-minute pitch, which helped us a lot in our overall delivery.

“The feedback from the judges in the semi-final helped shape our pitch for the final, and the communication skills learnt in this competition should be taken forward and applied to the non-work aspects of your life. There’s a lot of value in that.”

A further congratulations go to Peelsphere of St Antony’s College, who won one of the Best Postgraduate Idea prizes of £5,000. Co-founded by Han Zhang, Master of Business Administration, and Youyang Song, Peelsphere is a bio-innovated material made - through advanced material engineering - using fruit waste and algae and is an ideal alternative to leather and synthetic leather.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the opportunity provided by the Oxford Foundry. It’s a fantastic platform for aspiring entrepreneurs.

“The exclusive All-Innovate workshops helped us tremendously. The course is very engaging and concise, especially the ‘how to pitch your start-up’ module. And during the Bootcamp, we learnt so much from the sessions. It was also a great pleasure to listen, learn, and get inspired by the other teams’ brilliant ideas!

“During the final pitch, the judges from All-Innovate greatly boosted our confidence in our idea. They also asked insightful questions to inspire us to think in-depth about establishing the future supply chain and fruit waste supply.

“Many emotions were involved especially during the pitch - excitement, nervousness, and passion. Ultimately, we’ve learned how to perform under pressure. With such a fast pace and intense competition, prioritisation was critical in winning. 

“If you’re looking to apply for next year’s competition and you have a great idea, take advantage of the Oxford network, put in concrete actions, and refine your pitch!”

Another congratulations go to Bedqueue of Wolfson College, who won the other Best Postgraduate Idea prize of £5,000. Co-founded by MBA students Kevin Eguiluz, Ekaterina Kuznetsova, Azhra Syed, and Cocoa Gao, Bedqueue predicts a patient’s length of stay in the hospital with accuracy and precision.

“We’re thrilled to have the Foundry’s support of our idea and validation of our work so far. Inefficiencies in health systems have real implications for patients’ health outcomes, and having the Foundry supporting us will help us get to our vision faster.

“We found pitching online quite convenient and it was well-organised. It was also good to see other teams and share stories. It was an enjoyable experience!

“We had the opportunity to practice communicating our complex idea effectively and get feedback to improve our pitch. The experience also enabled us to meet and learn from other entrepreneurs. The judges gave constructive feedback during the Bootcamp, which prompted us to realise that some critical information was overlooked in our initial pitch. The judges in the final stage also provided incredibly insightful advice to strengthen our idea and product further.

“Our team learned how to articulate a complex healthcare problem and solution without a pitch deck in under two minutes. There's a certain sophistication that goes along with brevity, and it’s undoubtedly a tremendous lifelong lesson.

“Think big and apply to All-Innovate - you don't know how great your idea might be!”

And a final congratulations go to LevelUp of Merton College, who won the Best Undergraduate Idea prize of £5,000. Founded by Nicholas U Jin, an undergraduate in BA (Jurisprudence), LevelUp is an edtech company developing the first K-12 Educational Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) in the UK and Asia.

“As entrepreneurs just starting out on our journey, it was incredible to win, especially considering the amount of innovative talent and credentials across Oxford University.

“Recalling the different stages of the competition, all the way from the Bootcamp to the finals, we were struck by the quality of the ideas, particularly the innovative and cutting-edge ways in which everyone’s ideas sought to target a pressing issue in the world.

“We first applied to All-Innovate in late-2019. Since then, the idea has come on leaps and bounds, and so the exclusive All-Innovate workshops have played a large part in this. The take-aways were largely twofold: firstly, and most importantly in terms of the idea, the feedback and mentorship we received taught us the importance for a start-up to focus on a specific niche. Secondly, in terms of pitch delivery, the workshops taught us to cut to the essence of the idea to deliver a pitch within 1-3 minutes. All these are valuable skills that we’ll certainly be carrying forward into the future.

“I would encourage anyone who’s thinking about applying to give it a shot! The All-Innovate competition is so well-structured that even if you don’t win, you can be sure that you’ll learn, and that’s the most important thing.”

Jeff Wong, EY Global Chief Innovation Officer, said: “The All-Innovate competition goes from strength to strength. Students from all corners of Oxford University have come forward with innovative ideas, whether they’re from the Humanities division, Social Sciences, Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences, or Medical Sciences.

“Not only does the competition keep growing, but the quality of ideas is consistently at an incredibly high standard. These students are coming up with the ideas and building the ventures that will be the next big innovation, the next big market, the next big disruptor, and it all starts with university entrepreneurship centres like the Oxford Foundry.

“The careers and sectors students go into look very different to how they did ten, five, even one year ago, and we need to do all we can to prepare them for this change and set them up with the future-focused skills and mindsets that will last a lifetime.”

Ana Bakshi, Executive Director of the Oxford Foundry, said: “It’s so critical that all students - no matter what they’re studying - are given the entrepreneurial and tech skills they need to thrive in a rapidly changing world. So far, over 300 students have engaged with All-Innovate across 33 partnering Oxford colleges. All students gain vital skills in problem-solving, pitching, confidence, and collaboration at our idea generation workshops and All-Innovate bootcamps, and it’s a transformational experience, whether students have a chosen career path or want to set up a venture of their own.

“For example, Oxford Cancer Analytics (OXcan) from team ‘DeCancer’ went on to gain a place on our OXFO Elevate Accelerator and has raised more than £1 million in its first Seed funding round. Odhran O’Donoghue from winning team ‘Light My Way’ went on to win our AI Impact Weekend competition with a trip to Silicon Valley, pursue a PhD in Data Science, and become President of Oxford AI society using his skills from the Foundry and All-Innovate, before joining NASA’s Frontier Development lab as a Machine Learning Researcher.

“Our programmes are delivered through our corporate partners and the generous support of our incredible network of global experts and mentors. We couldn’t do it without them and a special thank you to Jeff Wong and the EY team for supporting All-Innovate this year and all that you do to prepare students for the future world of work.”

Discover how winning Hilary term’s All-Innovate competition has impacted a Zimbabwean delivery venture.