Humanities Idea Development Afternoon

Oxford University Innovation and TORCH are delighted to host an afternoon of innovation and creativity at the Jam Factory on May 26th  from 3.30 to 5.50pm.

Are you a humanities researcher interested in communicating with new audiences, enriching your work and developing new perspectives? You may not have thought about it, but entrepreneurship can offer all of this.

Are you interested in learning how to move from the pre-idea stage to a provisional business plan? Even if you’re aiming for a career in academia, maybe you’re interested in better understanding how to communicate the broader impact of your research?

If you answered yes to one (or more) of the above, we would love you to come meet us at the Jam Factory for the Humanities Ideation Afternoon. You needn’t even have a particular idea that you’re working on, you’re still welcome to join in.

Fuelled by delicious cakes and a drink or two, we’ll be using the lean canvas tool to explore very early and early stage ideas. We’ll look at how to find your customer, sell your idea to them and quickly articulate your vision for the business to inspire interest from others. By deconstructing ideas into their key elements and testing your assumptions, you’ll learn how to assemble the building blocks of a business model.

Come meet us and discover how to unlock your potential!

Please register your interest with a quick RSVP and your name to either Rebecca Glenapp or Tasha Patel.

Previous Humanities Innovation Challenge

Oxford University Innovation launched a previous initiative, called the Humanities Innovation Challenge in 2017. The competition was created and coordinated together with The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), which seeks to stimulate and support research activity that transcends disciplinary and institutional boundaries. TORCH is a fantastic advocate of innovation and creativity in the Humanities and its networks.

Oxford University Innovation and TORCH are both keen to encourage researchers, students and staff from Humanities departments to develop entrepreneurial ideas which may enrich their own work, communicate to a wider audience and develop new perspectives in the Humanities. We welcomed groups and individuals alike to apply to the competition with their innovative ideas.

Finalists had the chance to pitch their ideas to experts from entrepreneurial, social change and commercial backgrounds, receiving valuable feedback and guidance from experts in business to take their ideas to the next stage.

Previous ideas

Previous winners have included Dan Holloway, who was awarded first place in 2017 with his game Mycelium, a game to boost creativity. He has since founded spinout Rogue Interrobang, providing an app and consultancy offering related services to industry.

photo (c) John Cairns


The 2019 competition saw some fantastic and varied ideas. The winners and runners up are pictured below.

photo (c) Stuart Bebb

From left to right:

  • Moe Omiya, who was completing her Master’s in History, was a runner up with Archigram, an app/social network to provide information and context for interesting architecture.
  • Maggie Chen was completing her Master’s in Modern Languages at the time of the competition. She is the creator of Girls in Charge, a Social Enterprise teaching entrepreneurial skills to women.
  • Elizabeth Nye, Lecturer in Social Policy, was the winner of last year’s competition with her app PowerUp, focusing on promoting mental health & wellbeing in schools by providing current evidence-based strategies and resources directly to teachers.
  • Lucy Golding and Olivia Robinson (not pictured) are both History DPhil students in who created ‘Memory Lane’, an app to capture memories.
  • Swetlana Schuster, Researcher in Linguistics, Robert Greenock, IT Officer at Green Templeton College, and Emily Lindsay-Smith (not pictured), DPhil student in Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics, produced Skillconnect, a peer to peer skill sharing network for University researchers.


The winner received a cash prize of £1,000, alongside over £5,000 worth of in-kind support. Second and third place received access to in-kind support of £3,000 and £2,000 respectively.


Applicants had to be researchers, students, support staff or other departmental staff from the Humanities division. Teams and individuals were invited to apply, provided at least one member of each team was from Humanities. Entries from incorporated companies were not considered.

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