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RisingWISE is an enterprise programme aimed at early career researchers at Oxford and Cambridge. It is a course entirely developed by and for women, including strong links with women experts in industry. If you are curious about enterprise, entrepreneurship and impact then this is the programme for you!

My career has taken exciting turns since the RisingWISE programme,” says Inge Volman. Previously a senior research fellow at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, and now Founder and Managing Director at Innovate-Ideas, the start of Inge’s journey from academic to entrepreneur began when she participated in the award-winning MPLS RisingWISE programme.

The RisingWISE programme helps women researchers thrive in their academic community. Rather than existing in competition with each other, the team has developed an innovative, collaborative programme with the University of Cambridge, including working closely with industry to build mutual relationships. This leaves participants more connected through knowledge exchange, with a growing network at their disposal to help each individual reach their full potential.

With a background fully rooted in academia, most of the women participants on RisingWISE have either never thought about creating a spin-out or start-up of their own, or have deemed it too risky to pursue. In addition, they do not have the opportunity to meet women working in similar fields to them in industry and therefore can feel as if they have limited options for pursuing careers in STEM, especially when these subject areas are still so male dominated. Current action plans such as Athena SWAN are helping, but gender equality remains an area for advancement within MPLS, the University as a whole, and the sector more widely. The Strategic Plan 2018-2023 acknowledges that in order for Oxford to remain a world-leading institution for research, we must continue to not only attract and recruit staff, but to support talented individuals so that they can grow and flourish. However, many women early career researchers are still not aware of, or accessing, the many opportunities of personal development support that Oxford offers.

Overall, developing an entrepreneurial mindset and skills, and building confidence, is proven to be of significant value to women researchers and can enable greater impact, wherever their future career choices lie. Professor Angela Russell, Bernard Taylor Fellow in Chemistry at St John’s College Oxford and former RisingWISE speaker says, "Events like this are crucial in supporting and inspiring young women to get involved, to continue careers in research and to understand what an entrepreneurial environment is like.... it provides role models and cultivates the confidence that people need to actually go out and engage with commercialising research".

The RisingWISE programme is now in its third year. Many of the participants from the first two cohorts have gone on to obtain promotions or new roles in their desired work field in industry. A large number of them have confidently applied for grant applications, participated in pitching competitions, and are now involved in successful ventures. Industry partners have included: Jaguar Land Rover, Johnson Matthey, AstraZeneca, Cancer Research UK, Siemens Healthcare, and Siemens Technology, most of whom are repeat partners, ensuring business engagement is stimulating and creating impact. Feedback is of a consistently high standard, with a 100% response rate at the end of the course, and an overall rating of 9.5/10 for the whole experience.

20% of women participating last year said they are likely to stay in academia, 35% would like to begin an enterprise or develop an idea, and 32% said they would consider a career in industry. When asked whether this had changed since before participating in the course, 70% responded positively, saying that it had changed their view.

Read the full story of Inge’s journey, along with profiles of other alumnae. Dates and other information can be found on the RisingWISE programme website.

The application deadline for joining this year’s cohort is Monday 30th November.

Please email Louisa Carson at mpls.enterprise@mpls.ox.ac.uk with any queries.

We look forward to receiving your application!