Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship
Skoll Venture Awards
The Skoll Venture Award provides funding to current Oxford Saïd students and alumni who are pursuing a socially focused business model built on a deep understanding of the target social or environmental problem.
A total pool of £20,000 in grant funding is available for successful applicants. This funding is tranched based on achieving specific key performance indicators.
Applications can be individuals, or teams, but must contain at least one graduating student or alumni from a Saïd Business School degree program (eg MBA, EMBA, MFE etc).
Skoll scholars are permitted to apply (providing a lead founder is either a current Oxford Saïd student or alumni).
There are no geographical restrictions and the award is open to both for-profit and non-profit models.
The business needs to be in pilot, prototype, proof of concept or early stage traction - the venture needs to be more than just a business plan, it has started to be implemented, but is still early stage.
The founder(s) need to be able to clearly articulate:
- How the business model has the ability to scale and create a clear social impact
- The impact thesis (theory of change) and how impact will be measured (specific outcomes)
- A thorough understanding of the problem being tackled as well as the landscape of others working on the same issues
- A financially sustainable business model (both for profit and non-profit businesses can apply)
The Skoll Centre has allocated Venture Award funding to the following early-stage social ventures:
BioCarbon Engineering aims to counter industrial scale deforestation using industrial scale REforestation. Destruction of global forests from lumber, mining, agriculture, and urban expansion destroys 26 billion trees each year.
This industrial scale deforestation is best combated using the latest automation technologies - i.e. quadcopters - to deliver precision planting and mapping to increase the uptake rates and the likelihood of healthy forest development. There are a variety of tree-planting techniques, including planting by hand and delivering dry seeds by air. However, hand-planting is slow and expensive, and spreading dry seeds results in low uptake rates. BioCarbon Engineering's solution balances these two methods. First, by planting germinated seeds using precision agriculture techniques, they increase uptake rates. Second, their scalable, automated technology significantly reduces the manpower requirements and costs. Finally, their mapping UAVs provide invaluable intelligence on planting patterns, landscape design and appropriate timing.
Linkage links smallhold vegetable farmers to local markets. Their transport and brokerage service is specifically designed for the needs of smallhold farmers, enabling them to earn higher incomes from their vegetables.It aims to improve the lives of smallhold farmers in Africa. Linkage creates a more cost effective route to market for produce, enabling them to return higher prices to farmers.
Disability Horizons is a web platform designed to make it easier for disabled people to organise and book travel.
Says 2013 MBA and Travability UK founder Srin Madipalli: 'The disabled travel market is badly underserved as current services are either expensive or inefficient. In addition to making a much needed leisure activity open to a wider section of society, increased access to travel via platforms such as ours can open up opportunities in a number of other areas ranging from employment to education. This award will help us pay for early development of the platform, so that we can get our product in front of the people that will use it.'
Odyssey Sensors designs, develops and delivers affordable sensor technology, networks, and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) innovations for smallholder, mid-sized, and family-owned farms. Their products increase the financial and environmental sustainability of farmers. Odyssey Sensors' flagship product, which received the Skoll Venture Award, is the HealthyShrimp Salinity Sensor - an affordable, solar-powered, easy-to-use salt meter designed to increase crop yields, improve farm family livelihoods, and reduce the negative environmental impacts often associated with aquaculture. In 2016, this innovation was awarded a Blue Economy Challenge grant to position the device for mass manufacture and distribution. Odyssey Sensors is also a certified B Corp.
iGBL aims to bring interactive game-based learning to schools, NGOs and businesses, introducing scalable technologies that enable highly effective and engaging ways to teach abstract concepts in schools and in the workplace. 'Most educational, social and even corporate organisations currently struggle to effectively teach and/or communicate abstract educational concepts to their students or team members,' says 2013 MBA and iGBL co-founder Shubham Anand. 'We make use of interactive gaming elements to allow people to ‘learn by doing.’ The award money will help us take iGBL’s development to the next level more rapidly, with the vision of developing a massively open online game-based learning platform for all.'