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Humanities Innovation Challenge Competition

Oxford University Innovation is delighted to sponsor the Humanities Innovation Challenge Competition.  We are doing this 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 great advocate of innovation and creativity in the Humanities and its networks. Oxford University Innovation and TORCH are keen to encourage researchers, graduate students and staff to develop entrepreneurial ideas which can potentially enrich their own work, communicate to a wider audience, and develop new perspectives.

To this end, you are invited to propose innovative ideas which can lead to entrepreneurial activity, social impact or enterprise. Although the Challenge is open to individuals, we would also like to encourage cross-disciplinary team-work, in which case at least one member of the team should come from the Humanities Division.

Even if your idea doesn’t win a prize, an expert from Oxford University Innovation will discuss the potential of your idea and give you useful feedback, so in any event it will be a great learning experience.

The Challenge

The challenge is to develop your best ideas by summarising them in 200 words. Researchers whose entries are selected will be given mentoring to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, in front of an audience, for a cash prize of £1,000 and for in-kind support worth over £5,000. The idea may come out of your academic work, or your other interests. Oxford University Innovation wants to support you in turning those ideas into opportunities. Perhaps you have a clever idea for a smart app such as the LIFE project, or educational interventions to support learning and development, or an innovative way of mounting lights – anything that can help others and be sustainable at the same time.


The winner will receive a cash prize of £1,000. They will also receive in-kind support worth over £5,000, including:

Invitation to a dinner hosted for the Innovation Challenge

Invitation to the Oxford Innovation Society networking event and dinner

Media support for a press release

Mentoring for the next steps and throughout your project

Support for funding opportunities, through the crowdfunding platform OxReach, or support through three other Oxford University Innovation funds

Possible entry into the Oxford Startup Incubator with access to networking, funding, marketing, legal, and accounting services, or development of a University spin-out company and help with team building.

Second and third places will receive in-kind mentor support to progress your project worth £3,000 and £2,000 respectively, together with invitations to the networking dinners.

Remember, even if your idea does not win a prize, an expert from Oxford University Innovation will discuss the potential of your ideas and give you useful feedback; a great learning experience.


The judging panel will be made up of entrepreneurs, creative thinkers and experts in innovation.

Eligibility and process

Teams or individuals can apply as long as at least one team member comes from the Humanities.


By Monday 7th November 2016: Submit a 200 word summary of your idea

By Friday 11th November 2016: Notification of entries selected for pitching

Tuesday 22nd November 2016: Coaching session for those selected to review your ideas and work on your pitching skills

Thursday 24th November 2016, 5pm: Finalists pitching session

How to Enter

To enter the competition simply download the entry form and send the completed form back to