OXFO launches £120K Grant Fund to Boost Pandemic Recovery

Oxford Foundry launches £120,000 Grant Runway Fund to Boost the Economic Recovery from COVID-19

The Oxford Foundry has launched a £120,000 grant fund for startups responding to COVID-19 to boost the economic recovery from the pandemic.

Through the COVID-19 Startup Grant Runway Fund, grants of £10,000 will be given to four solutions deemed critical to aiding the crisis by a judging panel of esteemed entrepreneurs and investors.

The startups were selected for the OXFO COVID-19 Rapid Solutions Builder, a programme to accelerate the innovations supporting society and creating jobs through the crisis and beyond.

The OXFO COVID-19 Rapid Solutions Builder was announced on 15 April 2020. The COVID-19 Startup Grant Runway Fund provides critical support for the ventures chosen.

In addition, ventures in the Foundry’s portfolio – half of whom are responding to COVID-19 – can apply for a £5,000 grant. So far grants have been awarded to ten portfolio ventures. 

Ana Bakshi, Director of the Oxford Foundry said, “It is entrepreneurs who are creating the next big innovations to address the challenges arising from COVID-19, and they’re creating new jobs in the process, boosting the post-pandemic economic recovery. Universities are home to incredible innovation and talent, and it’s critical that this is mobilised and leveraged.

"The Runway Fund provides crucial funding to ensure these startups can scale and have a greater positive impact on society. The ventures in our portfolio are already helping hospitals, care homes, parents, schools and many other sectors hit hard by coronavirus. A huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far and who has given generous time and support to make this grant fund possible.”

The OXFO COVID-19 Rapid Solutions Builder ventures are:

My110, a low-cost and non-invasive saliva test for Covid-19 that is accurate, fast and scalable. My110 hopes to unlock the potential for more widespread daily screening, which is key to easing lockdown restrictions and rebooting the economy. My110 is in talks to trial the test, which can be combined with tracking software, in NHS hospitals this summer.

Oblivious AI, helps banks, telecoms and social media companies to share with governments and individuals location data on people with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 without revealing any of their personal information. It does this by encrypting the personal data, protecting patient confidentiality. Oblivious has already helped to track and trace hundreds of thousands of people in India. 

Devie: an AI-powered coaching app to support parents of babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. The personalised platform helps parents actively to engage in their child’s development, address parenting challenges and improve wellbeing.

Crowdless: an app which shows the extent of crowds in supermarkets and shops, to help people avoid crowds and queues and effectively social-distance. Since launching on the App Store, the team has received thousands of sign-ups a day and has been featured on the BBC and Guardian and in the international press.

The OXFO COVID-19 venture portfolio includes:

Nye Health, who have scaled their GP-to-patient remote consultation platform in the last 8 weeks to support 10 million patients.

Infogrid, who are saving the NHS time and money by automating manual checks such as pharmacy storage using smart sensors.

myo, who have doubled the userbase of their communication platform in the last month to connect over 2000 families with their loved ones in care homes.

Novoic, who are using cough data to develop a simple and scalable test for COVID-19.

With exceptional thanks to contributors to the Fund including: Mohamed Amersi, Biz Stone, Pete Flint, Alexsis de Raadt St James, Leith Ben Ammar, Mike Smith, Mark Evans, Holger Bollmann, Nicholas Davies and Matt Hutnell from Santander Universities, Mustafa Mohammed of Genix Healthcare, Jim Wilkinson, Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), Citi Private Bank, and Dr Selva Pankaj and Tharshiny Pankaj of Regent College London.

A special thank you to the incredible WPM team, the Saïd Business School Development team, and Oxford University’s Development Office and Finance Division for their support with operations and infrastructure.

You can find out more about the Oxford Foundry's COVID-19 Action Plan here, and to donate to the COVID-19 Startup Grant Runway Fund please click here.