L.E.V8 Cohort 2 teams with Ana Bakshi, Foundry Director, and Professor Bill Aulet, Managing Director ofThe Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship



The Oxford Foundry is delighted to announce the next cohort of Oxford-founded start-ups that have been selected to participate in its OXFO L.E.V8 accelerator programme at the Amersi Foundation accelerator space.

Competition for a place on cohort two of the accelerator programme was fierce: in just 3 short months, 235 applications were received – an increase of 55% from the number who applied for the first cohort.

The ten keen, early-stage ventures who made it onto the programme span a rich diversity of industry sectors, including medtech, publishing, fintech, retail and energy. Furthermore, 50% of the teams contain women, and 30% of them have a female CEO. Eight of the ten teams are led by an alumnus or alumna of the University, while the remaining two teams are led by current Oxford students.

The selected ventures started their residency in the Foundry’s central Oxford building on 19 November. They will spend six months on the intensive L.E.V8 accelerator, which includes a tailored learning programme, financial and legal support, and access to a network of experts and mentors, in a package estimated to be worth a total of £60k per team. These ventures follow in the footsteps of LEV8 cohort 1, who finished up their time on the programme with a spectacular Demo Day event in September.


The ten ventures that have been selected for the new OXFO L.E.V8 accelerator cohort are:

  1. Empower Energy – sets up local rental agreements through a franchise model to make basic electric appliances, such as lighting and mobile charging, affordable to people living in extreme poverty in rural India.
  1. hawk:AI – provides an intelligent transaction monitoring and investigation solution for financial institutions, focused on beating money laundering and fixing compliance efficiency.
  1. Intellicharge – developing a software that optimises electric vehicle (EV) charging, so that cars are charged with the cheapest and the greenest electricity, and electricity grids stay balanced through automatically adjusting to the peaks and troughs of demand. 
  1. Lantana Publishing – publishes children’s books by authors and illustrators of BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) heritage: books that represent and celebrate the 14% of the UK population that identifies as BAME.
  1. Infogrid – an Internet of Things (IoT) company that helps non-smart buildings and equipment smart, instantly and cheaply, through a turnkey solution that combines physical hardware and a proprietary platform.
  1. NYE Health – connecting patients to healthcare professionals, their peers and service providers through a mobile platform, enabling digital-first care to combat the challenges of supply and demand in healthcare systems.
  1. OxWash – an award-winning laundry and dry-cleaning service dedicated to being zero-emission and environmentally sustainable, that allows customers to order, pay for, and track their orders.
  1. See Through Scientific – developing a unique approach to extracting live circulating tumour cells (CTCs) and cell clusters from the peripheral blood of cancer patients, enabling genomic analyses for personalised, timely treatment.
  1. SociAbility – a platform that uses crowdsourcing to collect and share accessibility information about social venues, to allow people of all abilities to socialise with greater confidence, purpose and ease.
  2. WOW YOU – produces a range of unique, naturally powered, cruelty free skincare products with clean, effective ingredients.

"We're thrilled that 30% of this cohort have women founders and leaders."

'The standard of these new ventures is exceptionally high,' explains Ana Bakshi, Director of the Oxford Foundry. 'Over 70% of them have already raised seed funding for their venture, and 45% of them are already generating revenue and demonstrating traction with customers and partnerships. At least a third of the businesses are committed to effecting positive social and economic impact, which is part of the Foundry’s core mission. We’ve worked hard to get more women to the platform through our LEV8 Women programme, and we’re so thrilled that 30% of this cohort have women founders and leaders – our aim is to increase this number in cohorts to come.'

One such venture is WOW YOU, a beauty product manufacturer whose cruelty-free, 100% natural skin care range has already attracted the attention of major retailers in the UK and USA. WOW YOU founder and CEO Ella Carlsen-O’Connor is an Masters graduate in Engineering (Materials Science), and an alumna of Corpus Christi college. Ella explains what being selected for the LEV8 accelerator programme will mean for her business:

'We've got over the first hurdle of launching our business, but we know that the learning curve has only just begun. The L.E.V8 programme will give us a fantastic opportunity to help us develop our own skills and grow our business faster than we could have ever imagined. We can't wait to get started!'

Frederic Krahforst is a Masters student in Software and Systems Security at Kellogg college, and is CEO and Co-Founder of hawk:AI, a fintech business that is building the a powerful global financial crime detection platform to revolutionise the compliance industry. As Fred explains:

'We are honoured to be new additions to the OXFO L.E.V8 family. We regard this as a business-defining opportunity to join a selective cohort to jointly further our leadership skills, reflect on our decisions and learn directly from veteran entrepreneurs.'

Alice Curry is the CEO of Lantana Publishing, and an Oxford alumna from St Hilda’s College, where she completed her English degree in 2005. Lantana produces inclusive books for children by authors and illustrators from around the world, with the aim of giving all children the chance to see themselves in the books they read. It is Alice’s hope that Lantana, whose award-winning titles have already received high praise from the publishing industry, will be able to use their experience on the L.E.V8 accelerator as a catalyst to take the business to even greater success, as she explains:

 'I'm incredibly excited to begin the OXFO L.E.V8 accelerator programme. As a company, Lantana has no shortage of passion, but to receive expert mentorship at this critical stage in our evolution will allow our team to reaffirm our goals and forge ahead with greater confidence that we can achieve them.'

Professor Peter Tufano, Dean at Saïd Business School, under whose initiative the Foundry was established in 2017, adds:
‘Interest in entrepreneurship has never been higher, particularly when many would-be business founders are looking to solve large-scale global problems. Technology has accelerated opportunities for entrepreneurs, but they need skills such as resilience and resourcefulness as well as traditional business capabilities to navigate the new economic landscape. The Foundry enables people from diverse backgrounds to meet and share ideas, to develop their skills and access a network of supporters and investors.’

Professor Chas Bountra, Oxford’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Innovation commented:
'The L.E.V8 programme at the Oxford Foundry enables University of Oxford students and alumni to receive mentorship from world leading entrepreneurs and industrialists, to create new ventures and thereby create potential benefits for society and the economy. I look forward to supporting this next cohort of amazing individuals, and learning about their aspirations and how they aim to make the world a better place for all of us.'

 'I wish there had been something like the Oxford Foundry when I was a student here,' commented Foundry Advisory Board member Pete Flint, Co-Founder of Trulia and Managing Partner at NFX. 'Through its L.E.V8 accelerator, the Foundry offers practical support and guidance, as well as encouraging new founders to be fearless in their approach to business building. With these two elements combined, the programme will support these newly fledged ventures on their journey to scale and succeed. I look forward to following their stories, both during and after the programme.'