Calls for Ideas (14 Jan-4 Feb 2019)

We are excited to announce that the IT Innovation Challenges will be running three funding rounds in Hilary term.

Photo by Robbie Brock CC BY-NC-SA

We welcome ideas for innovative digital projects that meet one of the three challenges:

IT Innovation Challenges (staff): innovative digital projects that bring benefit to the University (funding up to £40K per project)
Summer of Innovation (students): realise an idea as a digital project supported by professional IT staff (paid summer internship)
GLAM Labs (staff or students): adding value to the user experience of GLAM’s collections, buildings, resources or programmes through digital means (£8-15K per project)

You can submit your idea between 14th January and 4th February (noon) on the new Oxford Ideas platform (please use your University email to create an account). You can also visit the platform to view, comment and vote on ideas submitted by colleagues across the University.

If you have any questions that are not answered in the FAQs, please get in touch with us directly at

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GLAM Labs – new IT Innovation challenge

Ashmolean featuring at the IT Innovation Challenges Showcase event, June 2018. Photo by Robbie Brock CC BY-NC-SA

We are excited to announce that the IT Innovation Challenges will be running three Calls for Ideas in the spring. In addition to the IT Innovation Challenges staff round and the Summer of Innovation call for students (see separate post), we can now announce the GLAM Labs Challenge, a funding opportunity for digital projects adding value to the user experience of GLAM’s collections, buildings, resources or programmes (GLAM =  Gardens, Libraries and Museums).

GLAM Labs exist to help create an environment within GLAM that can confidently develop, pilot, test and evaluate the use of technology to enhance the user experience of physical and virtual spaces. GLAM Labs is about creating an ethos of sharing expertise, developing digital skills among staff and collaborators, and of digital experimentation.

IT Innovation Challenges has already proven an effective vehicle for successfully seed-funding GLAM initiatives such as Cabinet, Oxford Stories and the Hidden Museum. This new GLAM Labs Challenge will be inviting ideas for innovative projects that seek to improve the user experience of both actual and potential users. Projects are expected to:

  • utilise technology to demonstrably and innovatively add value to the user experience of GLAM and its collections, buildings, resources or programmes.
  • encourage collaboration. The collaboration can be between staff from different departments or divisions, between institutions and students, or even with outside organisations and companies.
  • cost between £8-15,000 and be completed by February 2020
  • have an identified GLAM partner or host institution with a staff member from that institution to act as project sponsor. Projects can also run across multiple GLAM sites.

More information about the challenge will be announced before Christmas together with full details of how to apply. We will look to gather short proposals via the online portal by the end of January then invite shortlisted proposals to enter a more detailed application by mid-March with a view to successful projects starting anytime after mid-May.

Exploring Cabinet. IT Innovation Challenges Showcase event, June 2018. Photo by Robbie Brock CC BY-NC-SA

Of course, if you have a bigger ambition for an innovative GLAM project that costs more than £15K, you can apply through the normal Innovation challenges. Likewise, if you are a student and would like to work on a digital project affiliated with a GLAM partner, you can apply to our Summer of Innovation round (opening in Hilary Term).

So, get thinking!

Questions about GLAM Labs? Please visit the GLAM Digital Strategy page)

Questions about the IT Innovation Challenges in general or any of the calls this year, please contact

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Meet the new project: Open Cabinet

In this interview, Kathryn Eccles talks about Open Cabinet, which is one of the 2018 IT Innovation staff projects. She outlines how this project will bring benefit to members of the University and shares some great tips for applying to the IT Innovation Challenges funding scheme.

Open Cabinet will use augmented reality (AR) technology to create new opportunities for virtual handling of 3D artefacts in museums. The project has two main aims. Firstly, it will embed objects more deeply into the learning experience at Oxford by creating animated AR experiences within museum displays, amplifying the objects’ power and meaning through the rich contexts the galleries provide. Secondly, it aims to enhance the public visitor experience by using this innovative technology to improve access to objects without altering the highly-valued appearance and atmosphere of the museums. The Pitt Rivers Museum holds significant material (text, images, audio, video) relating to its artefacts, and AR provides a mechanism for both ‘extending’ displays by employing these rich materials, and adapting them for visitors with diverse needs, all without the intrusion of permanent, fixed screens in galleries. As the content is activated by a device held up to the display, the Open Cabinet project can encourage deeper engagement whilst avoiding ‘heads down’ distraction.

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Announcing the IT Innovation Challenges 2018/19

We are pleased to announce that the scheme will be inviting both staff and students to submit project ideas in early 2019, to be considered for funding by the scheme. The IT Innovation Challenges scheme supports innovative ideas that can be developed into digital projects and bring benefit to the University or enhance the staff or student experience.

Summer of Innovation

This year we are introducing the Summer of Innovation for students. Students are invited to share their innovative ideas and, if selected, go on to realise these as digital projects with support from the scheme. Being part of the Summer of Innovation will be similar to doing a paid internship, and students will be offered training and guidance to gain project management and digital skills and realise their idea.

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Know Your Oxford: Guided Audio Tour now available

Know Your Oxford is a free guided audio tour for new and prospective students at Oxford.

If you’ve just started studying at Oxford University or you’re thinking about applying, Know Your Oxford will help you to find your feet in the city.

Using a free app on your smartphone (or this website), you’ll get an insider’s view to student life in central Oxford – hearing first-hand from those who know what it’s like to be a student here, and helping you to settle in.

This project was made possible by the 2017/18 IT Innovation Challenges scheme.

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Managing your time

Starting a project from scratch can seem overwhelming, especially if you have never worked on a long-term project before. There are so many tasks that need to be done, but only so much time in a day. So where do you even start?

We have collected some tips and ideas that will help you to think about time management. Once you are in control of your time, completing your project will become much easier. Of course these tips also come in handy in your student and working life. Continue reading

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Currently completed: VESPa – the Virtual Environment Sampling Platform

What is VESPa and how does it work? In this interview, Maureen Doyle, project manager of VESPa – the Virtual Environment Sampling Platform, explains how the tool works and how it can help students with acquiring sampling skills. Continue reading

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The story behind… VESPa – the Virtual Environment Sampling Platform

What it is like working on an IT Innovation Challenges project and what does it take to complete a project? In this interview, Maureen Doyle, project manager of VESPa – the Virtual Environment Sampling Platform, reflects on her experiences as project manager.

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Learmapp launched on AppStore and PlayStore

Learmapp is a mobile-based, learning oriented, networking platform, intended to manage and socialize learning journeys. Developed by Karim El-Mehairy and funded by the IT Innovation Challenges scheme (student round 2016/17), the app has now launched on the AppStore and the PlayStore.

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Funded projects – 2018 Staff Round

The latest IT Innovation Challenges funding round for staff saw 21 ideas shared and discussed. Eight of these were invited to develop and present a project proposal. The IT Innovation Challenges Panel were very impressed with the proposals and the pitches that the project teams made and could only regret that the scheme could not fund all of them.

The following five projects were offered funding and will be running in the year to come (click on the project name to read more about it).

  • Enabling Research and Public Engagement with VR – developing unique and exciting VR applications and experiences. Based at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (start: July 2018)
  • Instant Video Creation  – piloting an all-in-one video creation solution. Based at the Said Business School (start: August 2018)
  • Open Cabinet: AR access to Oxford’s collections – virtual handling of 3D artefacts in the museum. Carried out by the Oxford Internet Institute, in partnership with the Pitt Rivers Museum and IT Service. (start: August 2018)
  • Oxford 101: Augmented Reality Tour of Oxford for new and prospective students. Based in the Academic Administration Division Communications. (start: July 2018)
  • Oxford Careers Compass – a web-app for values driven career planning. Based in the Careers Services (start: September 2018)

We will be publishing more information about the projects as they progress.

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