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 email@example.com.
PLEASE NOTE: Some of this information may change as new calls are added. Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm any details that are particularly important to you at this stage.
- Who can enter?
- Can we enter as a team?
- I may have funding from another source that I could use to part-fund the project – is that OK?
- I have entered my idea into another funding application; can I submit the same idea to IT Innovation Challenges?
- I already have a prototype. Can I enter this into the challenge?
- I am already part of the Oxford University Innovation Incubator Process. Can I apply to the IT Innovation Challenges?
How to enter
- What are the stages of the process?
- Can I submit more than one idea?
- Can I take part even if I do not want to submit an idea?
- Should I submit an idea even if I do not want to work on it myself as a project?
- How long should an ‘idea’ be when I first submit it?
- What if I have an idea but do not have access to software developers?
- What if I have an idea that doesn’t really fit the challenge set?
- What costs do you cover and how much can I apply for?
- When should my project run?
- What is the formal project proposal?
- What is the pitch event?
- What are the criteria by which ideas will be judged?
About IT Innovation Challenges
- What is a ‘challenge’?
- What do you mean by ‘innovation’?
- What is the relationship with Oxford University Innovation?
- What is IT Services role in this? Do IT Services staff have to be involved in all projects?
- Who decides on the selection of projects?
- Who is on the IT Innovation Panel?
- Who is providing the funds for this?
- Who owns the intellectual property rights for the project once completed?
- What happens to the ideas that don’t make it to the final stages?
- If I get funded and my project is a success, then what?
About the Oxford Ideas platform
- How do I get access to the Oxford Ideas site?
- How do I change details about myself or the amount of email I get from the Oxford Ideas site submission system?
- Why can’t I see the ideas I submitted to the 2018-19 calls?
- Can I edit or remove an idea that I have submitted?
Further information and help
- Who can I contact for help with all this?
- Can I get some advice on how to best enter the competition?
- How can I find software developers for my project?
You can enter as an individual or a team.
Summer of Innovation: Any member of the University can enter an idea and contribute to a project but only current, matriculated students within the University (undergraduate or graduate)* can be part of the Summer of Innovation team and be paid for their time. If you are in your final year of study you will still be able to take part in the Summer of Innovation scheme over the long vacation. 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 other than Summer of Innovation 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. We cannot give funding to you if you have become an Incorporated Company or will do so during the course of the project.
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 submissions stage).
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.
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.
Each challenge include the following stages: Idea submission – Shortlisting – Project Proposal and Pitch – Funding decision.
- 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 viewed 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.
- Shortlisting: Once the submission stage closes, ideas will be reviewed against the set criteria and a shortlist drawn up.
- Project Proposal and Pitch: The creators of the shortlisted ideas will be invited to write a project proposal based on their idea (support and template available from IT Innovation Challenges staff). They will also be asked to present their proposal to the Panel at a pitch event.
NOTE: Summer of Innovation proposals must be developed by one or more students who want to work on the project over the summer, should it be funded.
- 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.
Yes, you can submit as many ideas as you like, but each idea should be innovative and different to any others submitted.
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.
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. Summer of Innovation proposals must be developed by one or more students who want to work on the project over the summer, should it be funded.
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.
You should still submit your idea. Should it progress to the project proposal stage you will then have the opportunity to form a project team with people who have the relevant skills. 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. Support and training will be offered to student teams. Please note that technical development resources will also be available for the Summer of Innovation projects (only).
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.
Summer of Innovation: In 2020, students can apply to join the Summer of Innovation. Successful students will be offered a 6-10 week casual employment contract to work on their project, supported by a team of developers and others (paid for by the scheme). A small amount of funding will also be available for other project costs, such as software, consumables, travel and other costs relevant to the project. The funds are managed by the IT Innovation Challenges and not transferred to the project teams personally. Please note that a valid work permit is needed for students to be part of the Summer of Innovation team.
Staff: The funding limit varies for different Challenges and these are specified when a call for ideas is launched. 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.
Summer of Innovation projects (students): Students that are part of the Summer of Innovation 2020 are expected to be available for 6-10 weeks between 1st July and 20th September.
Staff challenge: Staff projects should start as soon as possible once funding has been confirmed and run for no longer than 12 months.
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. Students applying to the Summer of Innovation will be supported by our in-house developers to define the technical aspects of their proposed project.
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 a few points such as giving a description of the project and the benefits it would bring. The Innovation Panel members will then ask questions relating to your proposal and pitch, allowing you to clarify and expand on different aspects. 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 20 minutes. The Panel will make the funding decision based on your proposal and pitch and notify you of the outcome, usually within a few days of the event.
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 utilises 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 recognise 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.
About IT Innovation Challenges
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.’
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 recognise that in some cases, small, simple changes can lead to really innovative developments.
Oxford University Innovation supports our scheme in terms of advising projects on possible ways forward after the project has been completed.
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). Developers from IT Services will support the Summer of Innovation (student) projects by providing advice during the project proposal stage as well as technical development and support to the funded projects.
Each Challenge has a dedicated Panel which selects the ideas to be funded through a two-stage approach: first all ideas are evaluated and a shortlist is created. Shortlisted ideas are invited to submit and present a project proposal and the funding decision is based on this. The panels are made up of representatives from across the University (academic and non-academic staff and students).
The 2019-20 Panels are currently being confirmed.
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 email@example.com and seek advice before accepting this award.
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. You are welcome to contact the Innovation facilitators for feedback on your idea based on the panel’s evaluation.
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.
The Oxford Ideas platform
To enter an idea or see and comment on ideas simply go to the Oxford Ideas site and log in with your Oxford University SSO details.
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 if you log in to to Oxford Ideas, click on your name and choose ‘Profile’. To change the email digests you get from the system choose ‘Notifications’.
If you have more than one email address, or if you have changed email since you initially registered, you may find that your old ideas are not automatically linked to your profile. You can easily change this by following these steps (numbers in brackets refer to the screenshot).
- Log in to Oxford Ideas https://oxford.ideascaleapp.eu/ with your SSO.
- Open your profile (1)
- Select ‘Email, Services and Devices’ (2)
- Click on ‘Add email address’ (3)
- Type in the address of your old account
- A red box pops up, saying you cannot add the address. Click on ‘click here’ in the box. A verification email will be sent to the old address.
- Open your email and accept the verification email (if the old/other address is not re-directed or you cannot access it, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org ).
- You should now be able to see your old activity as well as your new.
Contact email@example.com if you have any questions or problems.
Yes, you can edit an idea that you have submitted until the shortlisting phase opens. Click on the title, select ‘Edit’ and make the changes you want. If you want to delete your idea, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Further information and help
Please email email@example.com.
If you need more information about any aspect of the IT Innovation Challenges, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- The Oxford Research Software Engineering group in the Department of Computer Science “address the need for professional software engineering expertise within the University of Oxford and for external collaborators”. Contact via website http://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/projects/RSE/.
- 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].
- 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