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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