Humanities Innovation Challenge Competition 2019

Humanities Innovation Challenge Competition

Oxford University Innovation and TORCH are delighted to sponsor the Humanities Innovation Challenge Competition: for Humanities and Social Sciences. We are keen to encourage researchers, students and staff to develop entrepreneurial ideas which can potentially enrich their own work, communicate to a wider audience, and develop new perspectives both in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

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 a Humanities or Social Sciences discipline.

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. Entrants 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. See the Innovation website for a selection of some of the ideas entered in last year's competition.


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
  • 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. Prizes will be given out at the award ceremony on Tuesday 28 May 2019.


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 a department which focuses on a Humanities or Social Sciences discipline. Entrants need not be researchers, they can be students or support staff as well. Entries can therefore come from either the Humanities or Social Sciences Divisions. If in doubt for eligibility, do contact us at the email address below. Entries containing already incorporated companies will not be considered.


  • By Thursday 16th May: Submit a 200 word summary of your idea
  • By Friday 17th May: Notification of entries selected for pitching
  • Wednesday 22nd May: Coaching session for those selected to review your ideas and work on your pitching skills
  • Tuesday 28th May, 5pm: Finalists pitch their ideas for the prize at Somerville College, Woodstock Rd, OX2 6HD

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

Read more on the Oxford University Innovation website.