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It is increasingly important for researchers to be entrepreneurial – not just in order to start a business or a spin-out company, but so that they can ‘think outside the box’ and take advantage of opportunities to exploit the impact of their research in creative ways. EPSRC IAA funding was used to conduct a short project to better understand the barriers to enterprise training for doctoral students and early career researchers in the Engineering and Physical sciences at the University of Oxford. The project led directly to the IAA-funded development of the Enterprising Oxford digital portal, which became EnSpire Oxford in 2023.

EnSpire Logo

Enterprising Oxford was initially developed by the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division in collaboration with the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, and is now managed on behalf of the University by Research Services’ Knowledge Exchange and Impact Team. It provides a gateway for students and researchers to learn the basics of enterprise, from intellectual property to setting up a business or social venture, and provides an easily accessible way to find out about and take advantage of local events and training. The portal promotes the ventures, start-ups or projects of entrepreneurs with links to Oxford (University or local area) through ‘Entrepreneurs Uncovered’, a collection of profiles on the website. These profiles help these early stage endeavours to gain press exposure and raise seed capital through crowdfunding.

Enterprising Oxford has received positive feedback from local Oxford start-ups, University of Oxford alumni, staff members and students as a helpful platform that connects the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and the University. A common theme in feedback is that Enterprising Oxford brings together information about events and opportunities in the city in a coherent, interactive and engaging format.

Since the inception of the project in late 2013, Enterprising Oxford has gone from ideas, sketches and thoughts to a functioning website attracting over 127,000 users between January 2015 and August 2017. Activity has now grown beyond the portal to encompass many other initiatives such as #StartedinOxford Demo nights, a celebration of the Oxford startup scene and a showcase of some of the best early stage startups in and around Oxford.

‘Enterprising Oxford have been invaluable to our first year in Oxford, introducing us to partners, suppliers and like-minded businesses that have made a measurable difference to the growth of the business.’

-          Alex Froom, founder of intelligent mobility start-up Zipabout

‘I’ve been amazed at the opportunities given to translate research into a product.’

-          PhD student in Biochemistry