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.

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. Please note – there are no staff challenges in 2016/17, (more details)

2. Can we enter as a team?

Yes, you can enter as a team, just add others as team members when you create your idea on the Oxford Ideas site by typing in their names under the team member (they will have to register first though).

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 are aimed at giving 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?

First there will be an open stage where the challenges are published and everyone is welcome to submit ideas via The Oxford Ideas site.  The ideas will be reviewed against the set criteria and a short list drawn up. From this, a selection of ideas will be invited to write a formal project proposal (using an existing form) and present at a pitch event. The IT Innovation Panel will then decide who gets funded.

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 go to the Oxford Ideas site and comment on existing ideas, make suggestions, and volunteer to assist.

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 that unless there is a clear project leader by the end of the open discussions 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. word limit 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.

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.

Staff: Please note – there are no staff challenges in 2016/17, (more details)

Staff projects can apply for up to £60k. 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.

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.

Staff: Staff projects should start as soon as possible once funding has been confirmed and run for no longer than 12 months. Please note – there are no staff challenges in 2016/17, (more details)

16.What is the formal project proposal?

If your idea is shortlisted to progress to the next stage you will be asked to write a project proposal. A simple form is used to help you develop your plan and think about the details of the project. We will offer to meet with you at the beginning of this 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 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 request 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.

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.

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 current membership of the IT Innovation Panel is:

  • Stuart Lee (Deputy CIO and Chair)
  • Hadassah Buechner (Student, project manager of IT Innovation project)
  • Matthew Castle/Ted Koterwas (IT Services)
  • Helen Christian (DPAG/Medical Sciences)
  • Keri Dexter (MPLS)
  • Kathryn Eccles (OII/Digital Humanities)
  • Rebecca Eynon (OII/Department of Education)
  • Jack Hampton (OUSU President)
  • Timothy Knowlson (Student Welfare and Support Services)
  • Kate Lindsay/Peggy McCready (Academic IT)
  • Marion Manton/Sean Faughn (Technology-Assisted Lifelong Learning)
  • Jessica Seuss (Oxford University Museums)
  • Olivia Wood (Student, project manager of IT Innovation project)

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 this scheme is open to all departmental staff and students.

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General

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

The University retains the legal right to develop and adapt any work funded by the innovation fund [see http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/statutes/790-121.shtml] but would also see projects develop independently thereafter. Students retain ownership of the IP (provided it is created outside the course of their research and no University resources are used) but will grant Oxford University a perpetual royalty free licence for the use of the product by University staff (academic and other) and students. Any material used within the project must be covered by an appropriate agreement to allow you and the University to use it thereafter.

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. 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 you need to activate your account on the Oxford Ideas site. Simply go to the 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?

At the beginning of each new challenge we will be running a briefing session to explain the process and answer questions. Recordings of these are made available:

If you have enquiries about any aspect of the competition or how to enter, 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 and Software Solutions teams (a team of developers but 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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