All-Innovate 2019

As the crowds gathered at last night’s All-Innovate competition final at the Oxford Foundry, ten student teams prepared to pitch their ideas to the panel of prestigious judges: Brent Hoberman of Founders Forum, Claire Davenport former CEO of HelloFresh, Matt Hutnell of Santander Universities, and Riham Satti of MeVitae.  

Covering areas as diverse as 3D printing and prosthetics, lab technology, publishing, medical diagnostics and personal safety, the competing venture teams included Oxford students from Zoology, Linguistics, Mathematics, Anthropology and more. The competition was generously supported by Santander Universities, and all the teams were hoping to take home one of the three prizes on offer: £10k for the best overall idea, or £5k each for the best idea from undergraduate and postgraduate teams. 

In its very first year, All-Innovate has seen 21 Oxford colleges opt-in to participate in the competition. Drawing on college community spirit, and tapping into the wealth of talent and the appetite for innovation that exists across the collegiate University, the competition has engaged over 200 students. Each college selected their best ideas to go forward to an intensive one-day bootcamp, where 38 teams competed to get through to the final ten. The Foundry also produced a series of 24 experiential workshops to support students to skill up in areas such as developing a business plan, design thinking, and product development, giving them a solid foundation upon which to develop their ideas and get them ready for the competition. 

"We want to make entrepreneurship inclusive and accessible to all our students – including those who would never usually dream of calling themselves entrepreneurs” 

Our host for the evening was Esther Agbolade from Oriel College, PPE student and President of Oxford’s African and Caribbean Society.

Special guests included Paul Polman, ex CEO of Unilever, and Will Hutton, Principal of Hertford College, who took to the stage with Foundry Director Ana Bakshi to open the event.

“We want to make entrepreneurship inclusive and accessible to all our students – including those who would never usually dream of calling themselves entrepreneurs,” said Ana. “Through our programmes, and working with our partners across the University, we encourage students to unleash their creativity and build skills in critical thinking, decision making and problem-solving – developing the non-linear thinking that complements their academic learning. We are immensely grateful to Santander Universities for partnering with us to provide this opportunity to our students, and to Dean Peter Tufano and Saïd Business School for their ongoing support of the Oxford Foundry and its work.” 

Each team had 5 minutes to pitch their idea, followed by questions from the judging panel. Once all ten teams had pitched, the judges had 20 minutes to confer, while guests enjoyed cocktails and music. 

All-Innovate 2019

The winners

The overall winner of the £10,000 prize for the best idea in the All-Innovate contest was DECancer.AI, developed by a team from Jesus College. Their personalised diagnostic platform uses AI to detect early cancer through analysis of an affordable blood test, combined with a personalised medical history of the patient, allowing early treatment and cure. Since most cancers are curable when diagnosed early, this idea could have a significant global and social impact. The team included students in Clinical Medicine and Physics. As Judge Brent Hoberman noted: “The time for this impressive diagnostic tool is now, and this is the Oxford team to seize their competitive advantage and deliver it.” 

As DECancer.AI team member Peter Liu, DPhil candidate in Clinical Medicine from Jesus College, stated: 

“We are so grateful for support from the Oxford Foundry, so that the DECancer.AI team can do our part in the fight against cancer, and support patients and their families. The All-Innovate Idea Competition has been an action-packed and fast-paced two weeks and taught us indispensable skills in innovation, pitching, and entrepreneurship. We are also grateful for all the teams and friends we have met through All-Innovate, who continue to inspire us with their ideas. This is only the beginning for all of us to contribute to causes that will create positive impacts for our communities.”  

Best Undergraduate winner

Best Undergraduate

The Best Undergraduate Prize of £5k was awarded to Light My Way from Wadham College, a map app that helps users find the safest way home after a night out, and which enables the user to both share their location with family and friends, and gives an indication of when they can be expected home. The team included undergraduates from Physics, Medicine, Economics and Management, and Computer Science.  As team member Robin Van Aeken, an Economics and Management student, stated: 

“Winning the undergrad innovation of the year award was absolutely fantastic. We got so much out of participating in All-Innovate – especially at the bootcamp, where the mentors helped our team to align our vision with the potential social impact of the app. The fact that our idea excited the judges, who have experienced such success in their own entrepreneurial ventures, has further motivated us to continue our own start-up journey.” 

Best Postgraduate winner

Best Postgraduate

The Best Postgraduate Prize of £5k was awarded to ConflictScanner from Pembroke College, whose navigation app helps people, charities and businesses travel safely in conflict zones. The app will also keep organisations aware of risks by predicting when and where a violent incident is likely to take place in the future. The app can be used on a phone or on a computer. The Team included students from the Department of International Development and Computer Science. Alex Barnes, DPhil Candidate in International Development, said: 

“We are absolutely thrilled to win the Best Postgraduate award! The All-Innovate process was highly competitive, and it forced us to distil the essence of our idea into a compelling five-minute pitch, which was great discipline for us. The award gives ConflictScanner a huge boost, both in terms of a kickstart to funding and through the professional connections we made through the contest, with new opportunities opening up throughout the process.” 

You can read a full list of all the ideas that were pitched at the All-Innovate final here.