We’ve laid the foundations. It’s now up to you to decide what to build.
Cath Spence, Manager, Incubator

The OUI Startup Incubator’s new manager Cath Spence writes on the wave of change which has led to a flood of new applications.


It’s been a year of change at the OUI Startup Incubator.

Firstly, after a long stint in the pilot’s seat, the Incubator’s inaugural manager Roy Azoulay took his own advice and founded his own startup. I took over from Roy in early February and have since been hard at work updating the Incubator’s offering in the light of Oxford’s ever changing startup ecosystem.

The Incubator’s new offer has led to a massive increase in interest with over 50 enquiries in the last six months and 10 projects accepted so far in the same period. Things have continued to heat up over the summer, and it looks as though the Incubator will be running white hot over the coming year.

Driving the influx is the halving of our equity share to just 5%, with no changes to the support we offer. We’re hoping to attract investment for our incubatees and are hard at work creating a new panel of investors for our incubator teams. Our aim is for each new venture to present their business to the panel with the hope of securing very early stage funding, for a low equity stake of around 5% on standard terms and in the form of a convertible loan; keeping paperwork and cost to a minimum for everyone.

We’re also changing the accelerator programme so that it will run as a rolling programme of a few days a month over six months rather than as a single block. The programme is offering a wide range of material covering business, legal and finance topics, as well as technical material such as app design and development.

To provide a more cohesive, integrated offering, we’re now working with our partners at other key Oxford University incubator facilities much more closely. Part of this means we’ll be offering a limited number of places on the accelerator programme to members of the other University incubators, alongside other collaborative activities.

Finally, as part of a wider programme of internal decorations at Buxton Court, we have been able to refurbish the Incubator workspace for our ventures. We’re now providing proper hotdesking facilities as well as break out space with bold and colourful décor to reflect the energy and creativity of the teams working there.

The most exciting change, however, is yet to come. And that’s what ideas and startups all this will generate. Between the various entrepreneur-focused organisations around the University, we’ve laid the foundations. It’s now up to you to decide what to build.

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