Many organisations and companies are aware that their members can have creative solutions to challenges and problems that the organisation is facing, but that they may find it difficult to get these raised and funded. As of last year, the University of Oxford is running a crowdsourcing scheme to encourage its members to offer ideas for small start-up digital projects that will bring benefit to the University.
A couple of times each year, the scheme launches a challenge and invites students and staff to share their ideas related to a particular theme (an open category is also included to allow for good ideas not matching the current theme).
A dedicated platform has been set up to allow staff and students to post their ideas, comment on and discuss them, and form teams for collaboration. The aim of this is to encourage open discussion, emerge ideas from across the University, and inspire collaborations between otherwise dispersed teams or units. Submitted ideas are evaluated by the IT Innovation Panel which consists of senior members from all divisions of the University. A shortlist is drawn up, and shortlisted ideas are invited to submit a project proposal where they show how their idea could be implemented as a project. The proposals are presented to the Panel which then decides which ones to fund.
Over its first year, the scheme has funded 25 innovative projects led by staff or students. The projects range from small projects involving one student working on something over the summer, to projects involving a team of participants from several departments working together for up to a year.
The Oxford IT Innovation Challenges forms part of the University’s IT Capital Plan and is administered by staff from IT Services (including RunCoCo).