Ana Bakshi is the inaugural Executive Director of the Oxford Foundry (OXFO), entrepreneurship centre at the University of Oxford, which opened in October 2017.
Having grown up in a family of entrepreneurs, Ana has been motivated in her journey as an entrepreneurial leader and change-maker by seeing first-hand how innovation is a driving force for economic growth.
Ana has been instrumental in creating positive, systemic transformation within complex institutions, and in building successful, award-winning entrepreneurship centres and cultural advances within centuries-old educational establishments. Her work has helped enable the University of Oxford to be ranked top in the Guardian’s rankings for the first time in a decade, and to be highlighted as a leading institution in the UK Knowledge Exchange Framework.
Ana’s work has supported ventures who are collectively valued at hundreds of millions of pounds, and who have created hundreds of jobs for society and the economy throughout the UK and internationally.
Ana has successfully brought together multidisciplinary global networks and communities to exchange knowledge, collaborate, and create inclusive economic and social impact and she has launched major programmes including institution-wide idea generation opportunities and cross-sector challenges, delivered in collaboration with leading multinational corporations.
Her work at the Foundry has been featured over 68 times in mainstream press including the FT, Sunday Times, The Guardian, and BBC.
At Oxford, Ana has created a strategic vision for the Foundry, building it into a self-sustaining ecosystem of responsible, low R&D-related ventures, which has its own centre of gravity and is driven by clear demand from students and alumni. She has recruited and built an effective team that manages a large portfolio of initiatives across many disciplines, including international partnerships, delivering crucial entrepreneurial and technology skills and opportunities for students and alumni across the University of Oxford, as well as external communities. As an expert in institution-wide entrepreneurship and innovation policy and strategy, Ana’s publications include the White Paper Universities: Drivers of Prosperity and Economic Recovery, October 2020.
In nearly ten years of working in higher education, Ana has built and launched centres and accelerator programmes that have supported tens of thousands of people with the critical entrepreneurial and technology skills needed for our future workforce, and accelerated hundreds of high potential, high-impact, purposeful ventures working in areas including climate change, healthtech and cybersecurity. At Oxford University alone, in under three years, ventures from the OXFO Elevate accelerator have created 150+ jobs, raised £40 million in investment since joining the accelerator, are valued at over £140m, and have improved lives across the globe.
In her previous role, Ana was co-founder of King’s Entrepreneurship Institute. She founded the University’s first incubator, scaling it into the King’s20 accelerator programme and driving the strategy and creating the framework to bring the Institute to life as an independent centre. Since 2014, King’s ventures have created 400 jobs and are generating £20m in revenue.
The impact achieved through these centres is reflective of the unique 5:5 learning model that Ana has developed, which comprises a five-step learning methodology and five-part delivery of entrepreneurial skills and training, including leading on the development of University-wide digital learning platforms.
Committed to embedding entrepreneurship in the curriculum and in everyday practice, Ana has enabled the delivery of thousands of hours of practical learning. Recognising that problems and challenges are best tackled collectively, Ana has created Advisory Boards and brought together world-leading entrepreneurs and leaders from the public and private sectors. She has convened strategic thought leadership roundtables to motivate discussion and action, and created impactful funding partnerships with FTSE 100 companies, funds and high growth businesses.
Ana is intent on democratising entrepreneurship. She played a key role in establishing Oxford’s first scholarship for Black British students from disadvantaged backgrounds. She created and launched the University’s first women-focused startup programme, Elevate Women, and has launched the University’s first Entrepreneurial Fellowship Initiative to ensure dedicated pathways for Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic students to get into entrepreneurship, senior leadership and venture capital.
Under Ana’s leadership, in response to the pandemic, the Foundry repurposed 100% of the team's time to launch the COVID-19 Rapid Solutions Builder to find and scale innovative solutions to challenges exacerbated by the crisis. She raised a pandemic response fund of £145,000 to support ventures tackling COVID-19, built cross-sector partnerships bringing together 200+ volunteers across technology and entrepreneurship, and convened an international taskforce of more than 60 leaders across the public, private and third sectors.
Ana has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a master’s degree in International Development.