FAQ

This page lists some more or less frequently asked questions. If you have a question about the IT Innovation Challenges that is not in this list, please contact us on innovation@it.ox.ac.uk.

PLEASE NOTE: Some of this information is likely to change as the 2018-19 calls are being prepared. Please contact us on innovation@it.ox.ac.uk to confirm any details that are particularly important to you at this stage.

Eligibility

  1. Who can enter?
  2. Can we enter as a team?
  3. I may have funding from another source that I could use to part-fund the project – is that OK?
  4. I have entered my idea into another funding application; can I submit the same idea to IT Innovation Challenges?
  5. I already have a prototype. Can I enter this into the challenge?
  6. I am already part of the Oxford University Innovation Incubator Process. Can I apply to the IT Innovation Challenges?

How to enter

  1. What are the stages of the process?
  2. Can I submit more than one idea?
  3. Can I take part even if I do not want to submit an idea?
  4. Should I submit an idea even if I do not want to work on it myself as a project?
  5. How long should an ‘idea’ be when I first submit it?
  6. What if I have an idea but do not have access to software developers?
  7. What if I have an idea that doesn’t really fit the challenge set?
  8. What costs do you cover and how much can I apply for?
  9. When should my project run?
  10. What is the formal proposal form?
  11. What is the pitch event?
  12. What are the criteria by which ideas will be judged?

About IT Innovation Challenges

  1. What is a ‘challenge’?
  2. What do you mean by ‘innovation’?
  3. What is the relationship with Oxford University Innovation?
  4. What is IT Services role in this? Do IT Services Staff have to be involved in any project?
  5. Who decides on the selection of projects?
  6. Who is on the IT Innovation Panel?
  7. Who is providing the funds for this?

General

  1. Who owns the intellectual property rights for the project once completed?
  2. What happens to the ideas that don’t make it to the final stages?
  3. If I get funded and my project is a success, then what?

About the Oxford Ideas site

  1. How do I get access to the Oxford Ideas site?
  2. How do I change details about myself or the amount of email I get from the Oxford Ideas site submission system?
  3. Can I remove an idea if I have submitted it?

Further information and help

  1. Who can I contact for help with all this?
  2. Can I get some advice on how to best enter the competition?
  3. How can I find software developers for my project?

Elegibility

1. Who can enter?

You can enter as an individual or a team. We cannot give funding to you if you have become an Incorporated Company or will do so during the course of the project

Students: Any matriculated student within the University (undergraduate or graduate)* can enter an idea. If you are in your final year of study and envisage the work will be undertaken during the following long vacation then you will still be considered a student for the purposes of the scheme. Please note that a valid work permit is required by anyone doing paid work on the project, should it be funded.

* We would also include students studying for any award listed in Part 3 of Council Regulations 22 of 2002 (http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/statutes/regulations/307-072.shtml) – notably non-matriculated Continuing Education Students studying for a Postgraduate Diploma, Undergraduate Advanced Diploma, Undergraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate, Undergraduate Certificate, and Foundation Certificate.

Staff: IT Innovation Challenges are open to any member of staff within the University. Due to financial constraints we cannot fund college-only applications but we would encourage college staff to submit their ideas and to seek collaboration with University departments.

2. Can we enter as a team?

Yes, you can enter as a team, just add others as team members when you submit your idea to the Challenges (or at any time during the ideas submisisons stage).

3. I may have funding from another source that I could use to part-fund the project – is that OK?

Yes, but we favour projects that cannot draw on other funding sources.

4. I have entered my idea into another funding application; can I submit the same idea to IT Innovation Challenges?

Yes, but the other funder may have rules about you entering your idea in more than one competition.

5. I already have a prototype. Can I enter this into the challenge?

IT Innovation Challenges focus on supporting the development of new ideas but could consider an innovative prototype that required further development.

6. I am already part of the Oxford University Innovation Incubator Process. Can I apply to the IT Innovation Challenges?

Yes. However we cannot give funding to you if you have become an Incorporated Company or will do so during the course of the project. In addition, the IT Innovation Challenges aim to give a start for projects with no other source of support so if you are already in the Incubation process then your project proposal will have to be very strong and show clear demonstrable benefits for the University.

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How to Enter

7. What are the stages of the process?

Each challenge include the following stages: Idea submission – Shortlisting – Project Proposal and Pitch – Funding decision.

  1. Idea submission: Once a challenge is launched, you can submit ideas via the Oxford Ideas site (note the eligibility criteria for different challenges). The ideas can be viewd by all members of the University who can add comments and questions and vote on their favourite. You can edit and add to your idea in response to feedback you receive.
  2. Shortlisting: Once the submission stage closes, ideas will be reviewed against the set criteria and a shortlist drawn up.
  3. Project Proposal and Pitch: The creators of the shortlisted ideas will be invited to write a formal project proposal based on their idea (support and template available from IT Innovation Challenges staff). They will also be asked to present their proposal at a pitch event to the IT Innovation Panel.
  4. Funding decision: Based on the project proposal and pitch event, the IT Innovation Panel will decide who gets funded. The project funds will be managed by the idea creators department or, for students, the IT Innovation Challenges, based at IT Services.

8. Can I submit more than one idea?

Yes, you can submit as many ideas as you like, but each idea should be innovative and different to any others submitted.

9. Can I take part even if I don’t have an idea?

Yes. Any member of the University can go to the Oxford Ideas site and comment on existing ideas, make suggestions, and volunteer to assist or be part of a team.

10. Should I submit an idea even if I do not want to lead the project myself?

Yes, do submit your idea and invite others to take part. Note however that unless there is a clear project leader by the end of the idea submission stage the project cannot proceed to the next stage.

11. How detailed should an ‘idea’ be when I first submit it?

The process encourages quick submission of ideas, discussion and collaboration, so your initial idea should be reasonably short – a paragraph or two to convey the main points. You can then develop it further in response to comments, suggestions and questions. You need not be thinking of submitting a fully formed bid at this stage; that will come later if you are selected to progress.

12. What if I have an idea but do not have all the expertise needed to run the project?

You should still submit your idea as it is possible there will be people interested in your idea that do have the relevant skills. Should your idea progress to the project proposal stage you will then have the opportunity to form a project team. We may be able to advise, but just note that it will be your responsibility going forward to find the people to work on your project. Some project management support and training can be offered to student teams.

13.What if I have an idea that doesn’t really fit the challenge set?

Each call will also have an ‘open’ category where you can submit any idea for a digital project you feel will be of benefit to the wider University, but our focus in terms of funding will be mainly on those that address the key challenges.

14.What costs do you cover and how much can I apply for?

Students: Student projects can apply for up £15k. The funding can be used to pay team members, software, subscriptions, hardware, consumables, travel and other costs relevant to the project, as specified in the project proposal. The funds are managed by the IT Innovation Challenges and not transferred to the project teams personally.

Staff: Staff projects can apply for up to £50k. The funding can be used to pay staff and non-staff costs, such as software, subscriptions, hardware, consumables, travel. It cannot be used to cover department overheads. Project funds are managed by the applicant’s department.

15.When should my project run?

Students: Undergraduate-led projects normally run during the long vacation, to be completed by the start of the next academic year. Graduate projects can be undertaken throughout the year – we will ask for supporting signatures from supervisors of any graduate students. Please note the eligibility criteria if you are about to finish your studies.

Staff: Staff projects should start as soon as possible once funding has been confirmed and run for no longer than 12 months.

16.What is the formal project proposal?

If your idea is shortlisted to progress from the idea submission stage you will be asked to write a project proposal. A simple template form is used to help you develop your plan and think about the details of the project. The IT Innovation Challenges team are happy to meet with you at the beginning of the project proposal stage to answer any questions you might have.

17.What is the pitch event?

Those who submit a project proposal will be asked to present this to the members of the IT Innovation Panel. You will be asked to talk briefly to three points: a description of the project, what the benefits would be, and what could be done for half the funding. The Innovation Panel members will then ask questions. You can bring a few people to the presentation and it is worthwhile having someone who can answer technical questions. Each slot will last around 15-20 minutes.

18.What are the criteria by which ideas will be judged?

We are primarily looking for innovative digital solutions that stand a realistic chance of achieving their goals within the constraints of time and funding. The IT Innovation Panel will decide on which projects will go to the next stage using the following criteria:

  • it is innovative in its approach – by this we mean it utilizes an existing system or service in a new way to tackle a known problem, or develops an entirely new system or service from scratch. We recognize that, in some cases, small, simple changes can lead to really innovative developments so the background context will be taken into account.
  • it meets the challenges set for this particular round or (if part of the ‘open’ category) supports one or more of the University’s strategic aims.
  • the idea demonstrates the potential for a wide impact across the University or meeting one of the University’s strategic goals for external engagement.
  • collaboration is involved. For example, this could be projects involving two or more University units, or partnerships between students and departments
  • the project seems feasible in terms of approach chosen, start-up and completion.

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About IT Innovation Challenges

19.What is a ‘challenge’?

This is the term we give to the call for ideas. We launch a challenge to invite ideas for digital projects that can address particular challenges the University is facing. The challenge will often link directly to a strategic objective of the University, e.g. ‘We would welcome ideas on how to improve, through digital means, our outreach activities.’

20.What do you mean by ‘innovation’?

We are looking for something new – an approach, technology, service, or improvement to existing services – that would lead to a clear benefit for University members or meet a University objective. It does not necessarily have to be a new product, it could be a new way of doing something using an existing digital tool, or a new activity that has digital tools at its core. We recognize that in some cases, small, simple changes can lead to really innovative developments.

21.What is the relationship with Oxford University Innovation?

Oxford University Innovation supports our scheme in terms of advising projects on possible ways forward after the project has been completed.

22.What is IT Services role in this? Do IT Services Staff have to be involved in any project?

IT Services have been asked to facilitate the process and do not have to be involved in the project itself. IT Services do not set the challenges and only play a small part in reviewing the ideas submitted. The IT Innovation facilitators are based at IT Services and normally help administer certain aspects of the successful student projects (for example budgets and contracts).

23.Who decides on the selection of projects?

The IT Innovation Panel decides which ideas will be funded. The panel is made up of academics and student representatives from across the University.

24.Who is on the IT Innovation Panel?

The Panel membership for the 2018 student challenge is:

  • Stuart Lee (Deputy CIO and Chair)
  • Matthew Castle/Ted Koterwas/Andrew Haith (IT Services / Software Solutions)
  • Helen Christian (DPAG/Medical Sciences)
  • Kathryn Cole (Oxford Student Union)
  • Kathryn Eccles (Oxford Internet Institute)
  • Isobel Hughes (Estates)
  • Timothy Knowlson (Student Welfare and Support Services)
  • Kate Lindsay (Academic IT)
  • Liz McCarthy (Bodleian Libraries)
  • Sanjay Manohar (project manager of staff IT Innovation project)
  • Mattia Montanari (project manager of student IT Innovation project)
  • James Robson (Department of Education)
  • Dave Smith (Enterprise IT Architect, IT Services)
  • Steve Taylor (Computational Biology Research Group)

The Panel membership for the 2018 staff challenge is:

  • Stuart Lee (Deputy CIO and Chair)
  • Matthew Castle/Andrew Haith (IT Services / Software Solutions)
  • Helen Christian (DPAG/Medical Sciences)
  • Kathryn Cole (Oxford Student Union)
  • Isobel Hughes (Estates)
  • Kate Lindsay/Denise Conway (Academic IT)
  • Liz McCarthy (Bodleian Libraries)
  • Mattia Montanari (VR & AR Oxford Hub)
  • James Robson (Department of Education)
  • Dave Smith (Enterprise IT Architect, IT Services)
  • Adrian Stokes (Department of Continuing Education)

25.Who is providing the funds for this?

The IT Innovation Challenges are part of the University’s IT Capital Plan budget going forward. This is under the remit of the University’s IT Committee. The main IT Capital Plan is to fund central IT service developments and projects, but the IT Innovation Challenges scheme is open to all  staff and students (see the elegibility criteria for details.

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General

26.Who owns the intellectual property rights for the project once completed?

The University claims intellectual property in work created by its staff and students as described in the University Statutes XVI:B (see http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/statutes/790-121.shtml). In the case of this award, your contributions to the project outputs are ‘commissioned works’ as defined under Section 8 of that Statute. Any additional materials that form part of your project’s outputs, whether owned by you or by someone else, must be included under an appropriate agreement that permits the University to make full use of the entirety of the project’s outputs at completion.

If you would like further guidance on what all this means for your specific proposal, and how your project could progress after the award period, please contact innovation@it.ox.ac.uk and seek advice before accepting this award.

27.What happens to the ideas that don’t make it to the final stages?

If appropriate, ideas which are not successful this time can be submitted to future challenges. We may also redirect ideas to other sources of funding.

28.If I get funded and my project is a success, then what?

We would seek to build on any successful projects wherever possible. You would be at liberty to do this yourself through other funding, but if your project lends itself to a service we feel should be rolled out to the University then we would endeavour to fund this next stage from the University’s IT Capital Plan. We would also encourage projects to talk to Oxford University Innovation about possible spin-out opportunities. Oxford Foundry, the new entrepreneurial centre for the University of Oxford, can support students in different ways. Also, Said Business School runs courses on Building a Business, and a regular Launchpad Newsletter with weekly events whereby you can get ideas on how to become a start-up and meet investors.

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The Oxford Ideas site

29.How do I get access to the Oxford Ideas site?

To enter an idea or see and comment on ideas simply go to the  Oxford Ideas site and log in using your Oxford Single Sign-On.

30.How do I change details about myself or the amount of email I get from the Oxford Ideas site submission system?

You can add/change details about yourself in the Profile setting. To change the email digests you get from the system choose Account Settings.

31.Can I remove an idea that I have submitted?

Yes, send us an email at innovation@it.ox.ac.uk.

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Further information and help

32.Who can I contact for help with all this?

Please email innovation@it.ox.ac.uk.

33.Can I get some advice on how to best enter the competition?

If you need more infomration about any aspect of the IT Innovation Challenges, please e-mail innovation@it.ox.ac.uk.

34.How can I find software developers for my project?

It is possible that there will be people with the correct development skills on the Oxford Ideas site who would be interested in joining your project. Some other options you could consider are listed below. Please note that these are merely suggestions for where you could start looking, not an endorsement of a particular site or service.

  • Talk to your local IT Officer to ask them to send a note around the University IT staff for possible contacts;
  • Contact IT Services via the Help Desk [http://help.it.ox.ac.uk/help/request] to talk to the Academic IT (advice on technology for research, teaching and learning) and Software Solutions teams (a team of developers – please note they have limited time to devote to such projects);
  • Use internal University networks such as the ‘Digital Humanities’ site [https://digital.humanities.ox.ac.uk].
  • The University is setting up a network of software developers (primarily to support Research). If you wish to contact them please do so via the Innovation contact address innovation@it.ox.ac.uk clearly stating the nature of your project and the skillset you require:
  • http://digitaloxford.com lists local development companies and has a place to post jobs
  • There are national sites like http://www.freelancer.co.uk which list developers

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