Congratulations to the winners of All-Innovate 2020, the University’s flagship ideas competition, and the Colleges they represent.
The winners were chosen following a virtual pitch event on 6 August.
10 finalist teams pitched to guest judges Jim Wilkinson, Interim CEO at OSI, Mohamed Amersi, Chairman of the Amersi Foundation and Advisor to the Oxford Foundry, Jenny Tooth OBE, Chief Executive of the UK Business Angels Association, and Oxford alumna Aneeqa Khan, Founder and CEO at eporta.
This year 30 Oxford Colleges took part, and a fantastic 150 ideas were entered. The competition was kindly supported by Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI) and included a new partnership with The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme.
The winners were selected based on the potential of their idea, how they evolved their pitch based on feedback, and the skills and strength of the team. They receive funding, an All-Innovate trophy for the team and their College, and follow-on support from the Foundry’s network. The winners are:
Best overall idea, awarded £10,000: Neurolytic Healthcare from Brasenose College, founded by Inna Thalmann, DPhil Candidate in Health Economics, and Roman Rothaermel, DPhil Candidate in Neuroscience, who met at the Foundry.
“We are extremely grateful to the Oxford Foundry and the judges for supporting us in our mission to push the frontiers of precision medicine and help the millions of migraine sufferers worldwide. It is safe to say that without the Oxford Foundry, Neurolytic Healthcare would not be here today. We met at the Foundry last year, and with the invaluable help and training from the Foundry’s staff, mentors and members, our team was able to quickly turn our vision into reality and create a fast-growing MedTech start-up. The award will help us complete our current validation study with the leading migraine clinics in the UK. We are also very thankful for having met so many inspiring founders from other teams and we look forward to seeing everyone else pursuing their visions and ideas. There is little doubt that many exciting trajectories have taken their start there.”
With 900 Million sufferers worldwide, migraines are the fifth most common cause of disability, characterised by headaches and nausea which render sufferers unable to follow their daily tasks. There are over 30 medications to choose from, but for two thirds of patients the prescribed drug does not work, which leads to an exhausting trial and error process. With the backing of Illumina Inc., the UK government and a US investor, Neurolytic Healthcare are building the first ever prescription optimisation platform combining genomic data with digital biomarkers to determine the optimal treatment right away.
"The All-Innovate competition was a great experience. It was fun and the judges’ feedback helped us consider the startup from more angles. We are grateful to the Foundry for organising the competition."
Parents can feel overwhelming anxiety when feeding their newborns for the first time, given the lack of control they face when they cannot communicate with their baby. Cibus Health are developing a smart bottle that gives parents real-time feedback about infant physiology during feeding, linked to cues of hunger and satiety. Their solution gives parents control and manages their anxiety around misinterpreting their baby’s cues. In turn, this enables infants to develop healthy eating behaviours, that are crucial to their brain development, giving them the resilience they need to start healthy eating habits.
"A sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’ – Arthur C. Clarke, this quote inspired Elon and certainly inspires us on our journey to re-engineer the research process, thanks everyone for all their support and All-innovate for this amazing opportunity!!’
Genei are using Artificial Intelligence to reduce the time taken to research and produce written work. Their mission is to remove time as the limiting factor for learning. They do this using research-grade AI, an end-to-end learning platform and chrome extension.
Best postgraduate idea, awarded £5,000: VitaGUM from Wolfson College, founded by Harriet Lester, DPhil Biochemistry.
"The All-Innovative competition provided many opportunities for us to grow as a startup. The 1-on-1 mentoring program helped us with our pitch and communication skills. We are so thrilled to have won funding for VitaGUM and we are now in a very strong position to move forward with our proof of concept. Meeting the other entrepreneurs enabled us to learn from one another and form important networks with other blossoming startups."
VitaGUM is a multivitamin-infused chewing gum that combats malnutrition and poor oral healthcare in refugee populations. Refugees mainly live off calorie-rich food packs that aim to reduce hunger but are severely lacking in essential vitamins such as vitamin C and iron. This leads to a high percentage of vitamin deficiencies and diseases, including anaemia, and is exacerbated by poor oral health which makes eating painful. VitaGUM is an innovative solution which delivers both nutrition and oral healthcare to refugees, with its vitamin formula tailored specifically to the diet of refugees and antimicrobial properties for cleaning teeth.
"I'm so pleased to have won, it was truly a team effort and the money will definitely help us achieve our goals. The other pitches were fantastic so I'm sure the judges had to make some hard choices. Winning in the Prince's Trust category I hope will encourage more budding entrepreneurs from any background to think up their own ideas and apply next year."
Mini Mealtimes is an app that helps parents track the food their child eats. The app then gives parents nutrition reports, recipe ideas and helpful articles so they can be sure their child is happy and healthy. This is the first app that allows them to do this.
Jim Wilkinson, Interim CEO of OSI said “As the world’s largest university-partnered venture firm we are passionate about growing Oxford’s venture eco-system into one of the great venture hubs of Europe and creating businesses capable of tackling the planet’s toughest problems. Co-investing, supporting and nurturing multi-disciplinary student talent is essential for this. Well done to all the finalists who pitched, it was a brilliant final and we’re looking forward to seeing where they go from here.”
Director of the Oxford Foundry Ana Bakshi said, “Congratulations to all the winners and to everyone who took part. All-Innovate is so much more than a competition. The workshops and bootcamp give students vital skills in creativity, team-building and problem-solving that will enhance their futures whatever career they go into. We’re really looking forward to supporting the ventures further on their journeys. Last year’s winners DeCancer.Ai have gone onto our L.E.V8 accelerator programme, and Lanterne (formerly Conflict Scanner) are on our OXFO COVID-19 Rapid Solutions Builder with their app Crowdless where they’ve formed crucial corporate partnerships and had significant impact to help social distancing and pandemic response. The competition is just the start of the impact and success to come. All the finalists are helping solve vital challenges that are even more important post-covid to help rebuild our economy and build back better. We’re very grateful to OSI for supporting the competition and to all 30 Oxford Colleges we partnered with this year.”
Mohamed Amersi said “It is always an honour to judge Oxford Foundry pitch events and to see the incredible and diverse talent coming through. The finalists are tackling critical issues in health, cybersecurity, education, sustainable fashion, nutrition and mental wellbeing, and much more. I was so impressed with the quality of the ideas pitched, that the Amersi Foundation decided to award an additional £5,000 of prize money within the Undergraduate category. It’s vital we support and encourage these ideas and young founders to help them on their journeys to be the entrepreneurial and ethical leaders we all need.”
Aneeqa Khan said, “I was very impressed with all the finalists and their grit and determination. Often the hardest part of being a Founder is having the confidence to give it a go and put your idea out there, so all the entrants should feel very proud. As an alumna of Oxford University and board member at OSI I'm always fond of anything which supports students accelerating their ideas and building great businesses."
Jenny Tooth OBE said “It was very inspiring to hear all the teams pitch and see the passion and commitment of the founders. With Angel investment it’s all about the people behind the ventures. I was very impressed with the traction the ventures have had in a short space of time and how they’re seizing opportunities to help economic and social recovery from the pandemic.”
Thank you to all the teams who entered, the judges, OSI and to everyone who helped support the competition including mentors from Entrepreneur First, Anthemis, The Bakery, BCG digital ventures, Downing Ventures, Amazon Web Services, Yo Percale, Rudi Sellers, Kal Patel, Christer Holloman, Nicole Cowell de Gruchy, Mikesh Udani, Kathy Harvey and Tong Gu.
A video of the event will be made available on the Oxford Foundry’s Youtube channel.