News from Oxford X-Reality Hub

This post features the latest newsletter from Oxford X-Reality Hub –  a network initiated through a student IT Innovation Challenges award. For questions or comments, please contact the network directly:

The Oxford X-Reality Hub is a network to find resources and a compass to navigate Oxford’s vast research portfolio. For more information visit our website:

Oxford X-Reality Hub Support and Solutions During COVID-19

In light of recent global events, it is crucial to develop digital solutions to support research and educational activities, typically undertaken in person. The Hub is currently re-evaluating existing and arising needs of our network members.

Grant Support

The Oxford X-Reality Hub has a proven track record of winning grants. If you need support with a grant application that incorporates immersive technologies, or would like to parner with us on submitting a joint bid, especially for COVID-related research, please get in touch. Email us at for more information.

Covid Related Grants

– COVID-19 Research Response Fund £20k – 200k

– EOSC COVID-19 Fast Track Funding
– UKRI Ideas that address COVID-19
– Google Cloud research credits

XR News in Oxford

Working alongside University College, Oxford X-Reality Hub created an immersive mobile VR app which transports users from all corners of the globe inside the College’s quadrangles and halls. This real-world solution gives users, including donors and prospective students, an inside glimpse of the College and of its emerging developments in North Oxford.

This is a clear example of how immersive technologies can be used, not only to create solutions to current issues, but also to usher organisations into the future.

Interested in learning more or exploring solutions? Contact the X-Reality Hub

Sample the app yourself through the video below. Take a 360° tour of key parts of University College and gain a glimpse of future developments in North Oxford. You can also download the app on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

Walk through University College, Oxford and rediscover places ranging from the hall and chapel to architects’ drawings for the new development in North Oxford.


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Summer of Innovation 2020 – postponed

Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

We are very sorry to have to announce that the IT Innovation Challenges ‘Summer of Innovation 2020’ is postponed until further notice due to the current Corona virus situation which has significantly altered the context in which we operate. Although we recognise that some project work could be done remotely, we cannot now rely on having access to the resources that would be needed to successfully run the scheme and support the participants in the way we would like.

We will be looking into possibilities of launching another Challenge when things go back to normal.

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Summer of Innovation – shortlist

We are very happy to announce the shortlisted ideas that have progressed to the next round of the Summer of Innovation 2020 challenge. The idea creators are now invited to develop and share a proposal for turning their ideas into a digital project. Proposals are to be submitted by 6 May, with a pitch event to follow on 15 May. Funding decisions will be made and announced shortly after that.

Shortlisted ideas, in no particular order:


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Summer of Innovation – shortlisting under way

The ‘Summer of Innovation 2020’ call for ideas received 13 submissions. You can see them all on the Oxford Ideas platform.  The ideas are now being evaluated by the IT Innovation Challenges panel and they will draw up a shortlist. Shortlisted ideas will progress to the next stage, where the idea creators are invited to create and pitch a plan for how to realise their idea as a digital project. If the pitch is successful, the project team will be funded to work on their project over the summer. Interested in being involved? Take a look at the ideas and link up with the idea creator.

We will be publishing a list of the shortlisted ideas by Week 7.

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Summer of Innovation – comment and vote

The Summer of Innovation call for ideas has now closed but you can still take part. Visit the Oxford Ideas site, look at the ideas and add your comments and questions. You can also vote for your favourites. Although the number of votes is not one of the selection criteria they are still important as an indication of how popular an idea is. Idea owners can use your comments to improve their suggestion or clarify something that is not clear, which will help the panel evaluate the ideas and pick the ones with greatest potential.

You can add comments and votes until Friday 14 Feb (noon). If you want to see how the ideas will be evaluated or see who is on the panel, please explore the FAQ section.

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Summer of Innovation 2020

What is the Summer of Innovation?

The ‘Summer of Innovation’ is part of the IT Innovation Challenges scheme. The scheme is looking to fund a number of students to develop innovative digital projects based on ideas from students and staff. Summer of Innovation students will be offered a temporary, casual contract to work with developers in IT Services’ Software Solutions team to realise their projects over the long vacation. Support and training will be provided.

How to take part

To be considered for a place on the Summer of Innovation team, simply add your idea to the Oxford Ideas platform by clicking on the ‘Submit Idea’ button. Then invite others to view, add comments and vote on your idea.

You do not have to include a lot of detail when you share your idea. To increase your chances of being selected, aim to briefly address the selection criteria (see below). You can add your idea until noon on 7 Feb. Submitted ideas can be edited until 14 Feb, for example in response to comments or suggestions posted on the platform. Make sure you get in there early so others have time to comment and vote, giving you the best chance to be selected.

All ideas are evaluated by the IT Innovation Challenges panel. If your idea is shortlisted, you will be invited to develop it into a project proposal which you then present to the Panel. Advice and support will be available so please do not hesitate to submit an idea because you do not (yet) know everything about your potential project.

What kind of ideas can I submit?

We are looking for ideas for digital projects that will bring benefit to the University, its students or staff. This may be ideas that address a problem, provide something that does not exist, make something better, or something else. This year we are particularly keen to see ideas on the theme ‘Digital Innovation for Teaching and Learning’, but we welcome all ideas for projects which will enhance the staff or student experience at Oxford through digital means.

You do not have to provide a lot of details when you submit your idea, but it may be useful to keep in mind that if your idea is shortlisted you will then be asked to turn it into a project that can be realised in no more than 10 weeks by a team of 1-3 people. The project work should lead to a tangible result. This does not necessarily have to be a complete product/service but should, at least, be at that ‘proof of concept’ stage with a plan for how to take it further. Student teams will be expected to work independently and manage their work themselves but will be offered support and guidance. Help with development will be available, approx. 10 days per project, as agreed with the developer team during the project planning stage. Each project will also be allocated a small budget to cover project costs.

How are the ideas and projects chosen?

The IT Innovation Challenges panel will shortlist ideas and select what projects to fund using the following criteria:

  • The idea is innovative in its approach. ‘Innovative’ does not have to mean using the latest technology or devising advanced technical solutions but can also include creative use of existing solutions. Innovation can be identifying an opportunity or issue and applying existing or new technology to it.
  • The project is feasible. The chosen approach and scope means the project can be completed within the project time and with the available resources (see ‘scope’ for details).
  • It will bring benefit to the University, for example by meeting one or more of the University’s strategic aims, improving the staff or student experience, or something else.
  • It has potential for a wide impact across the University or beyond.
  • It includes collaboration. This could be something involving two or more University units, partnerships between students and departments, work with external partners or users, or something else.

The number of votes that your idea receives is not a selection criteria, but comments may be considered by the panel when evaluating the idea.

Who can apply?

Any member of the University can enter an idea and be involved in a project, but only current, matriculated students within the University can be part of the Summer of Innovation team and be paid for their time.* Please note that a valid work permit is required by anyone doing paid work on the project, should it be funded. Students working on the project are expected to be based in Oxford, or at least be available for weekly on-site meetings.

Ideas can be submitted by individuals or teams. Team membership does not have to be finalised at the idea submission stage.

If an idea is shortlisted to progress to the project proposal stage, the proposal has to be developed by one or more students who want to work on the project over the summer, should it be funded. Staff members can still be involved in the project, but the scheme cannot pay for their time.

* ‘Student’ here includes undergraduate and graduate students. If you are in your final year of study you will still be considered a student for the purposes of the scheme. We also include students studying for any award listed in Part 3 of Council Regulations 22 of 2002 – notably non-matriculated Continuing Education Students studying for a Postgraduate Diploma, Undergraduate Advanced Diploma, Undergraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate, Undergraduate Certificate, and Foundation Certificate.

More information

More information about the scheme, previous projects and more can be found here on the IT Innovation Challenges blog. Do explore the FAQ section for answers to frequently asked questions and read the blog posts about previous and current projects. If you are looking for suggestions for how to come up with ideas, you may be interested in the What is an idea and how do I come up with ideas? post.

If you want to know more or have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team at

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Dec 25. Merry Christmas!

Garland with bulbs, lights and bells

IT Innovation Challenges advent calendar 2019


We wish you all a very, Merry Christmas and look forward to innovating with you in the new year 2020.

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Dec 24. IT Innovation Challenges 2020

Garland with bulbs, lights and bells

IT Innovation Challenges advent calendar 2019

As the old year draws to a close, the new is approaching. We expect 2020 to be a year full of innovation and new initiatives, starting in early January with the launch of the ‘Summer of Innovation’ challenge. The scheme is looking to fund a number of students to work on turning their innovative ideas into digital projects, supported by the IT Innovation Challenges team and developers from IT Services. The Call for Ideas will go out in January and project ideas in the area of Teaching and Learning will be particularly welcome. Anyone can submit an idea but projects have to be run by students.

February will see the completion of a number of projects that are part of the GLAM-Labs Challenge (2019) and these will feature in a showcase event organised by GLAM. The projects include exciting new approaches to the museum space, artefacts and activities. Further information to follow, so watch this space.

In addition to these early highlights, we hope to be able to announce a number of new calls for ideas on the Oxford Ideas platform, both for the IT Innovation Challenges and other initiatives. We also have exciting news to relate from the projects running now, and expect to be able to publish new about these as well updates on previous projects that have thrived after being created under the IT Innovation Challenges.

If you have any ideas, thoughts, questions or comments, please feel free to contact the IT Innovation Challenges team at

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Dec 23. Oxford Ideas

Garland with bulbs, lights and bells

IT Innovation Challenges advent calendar 2019

If you know about IT Innovation Challenges you may also be familiar with our idea-sharing platform, Oxford Ideas. The online platform can be used to post ideas that others can then view, comment on and vote for. What you cannot see is that the platform has a number of other functions, allowing those issuing a Call for Idea to do a lot ‘behind the scenes’ making it easier to run the call and keep up-to-date with what is happening at all times.

Many different ideas management platforms exist and we are currently using IdeaScale. The University has a licence to run a number of Calls for Ideas each year, and anyone interesting in using the platform can contact to discuss their Call with the Innovation Facilitator who helps managing the platform and setting up calls.

Calls for Ideas can take different forms. What they share is that preparation is key. Before anything is added to the platform, it is important to know what the Call is for, who it is aimed at and what kind of information to ask for. This is done in collaboration between whoever wishes to make the Call for Ideas and the Innovation Facilitator.

When setting up a Call for Ideas, the fist step is to decide what stages to include. These include submit idea, build team, review, refine, archive and more. For each stage it is possible to define who should have access to it, for example setting it up so that only Panel members can add scores to an idea in the ‘review’ stage. The forms used for collecting information also needs to be created so that idea creators know what to include when sharing and idea and reviewers see what features they are asked to assess. Timings can be added so that stages open and close on specific dates. Once the Call is running, ideas can be moved from one stage to another manually or automatically, for example when they have received a certain number of votes. This can happen at a specific time, or continuously. There are a number of functions available for those managing a Call, for example assigning ideas to various strands or reviewers.

If you want to know more about the platform or want to talk about running a Call for Ideas, do get in touch with us at

Screenshot: setting up a Call for Ideas


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Dec 22. Oxford Women

Garland with bulbs, lights and bells

IT Innovation Challenges advent calendar 2019

The University of Oxford is old. Very old. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, which makes it the oldest university in the English-speaking world. But did you know that it is less than 100 years since women were allowed to become full members of the university and have the right to get degrees? Even though they could not get a degree, women did study here also before 1920. A number of academic halls were established for women from 1878, and women could receive an education and take exams even though they could not get an Oxford degree.

‘Education and Activism: Oxford Women 1878-1920’ is an IT Innovation Challenges project looking to create an innovation digital resource about women in Oxford before 1920. The project is creating a website with information and documents from the period. There will be a walking tour, a gallery, and much more. It will be launched at an event on the 14th October 2020, to the day 100 years since women first took their degrees here.

You can read more about the project in the project abstract on the IT Innovation Challenges blog. if you are interested in learning more about the history of the University and women at Oxford, why not explore some of the following resources:

The ‘Education and Activism’ project is a collaborative project involving the Faculty of History, Bodleian Libraries, Women in the Humanities, and the former women’s colleges Lady Margaret Hall, Somerville, St Hugh’s, St Hilda’s and St Anne’s. It is supported by IT Innovation Challenges.

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