Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship
Skoll Venture Awards
The Skoll Venture Awards provide funding to University of Oxford students or alumni from a full-time degree programme who are pursuing a socially focused business model built on a deep understanding of the target social or environmental problem.
An award of up to £20,000 in grant funding is available for successful ventures. The business needs to be in pilot, prototype, proof of concept, or in early stage traction. Implementation must clearly have begun, and founder commitment must be very evident, even though execution may be in the early stages. Key indicators that the business has moved past idea stage could be that there is a paying customer in place or a full-time employee on the ground.
Deadline for submissions is 23:55 GMT+1 on Sunday 29 April 2018.
We look for social ventures that fit the following minimum criteria:
- At least one Oxford Student or alumni as part of a strong founding team
- Have raised no more than £100,000 in previous funding
- Initial capital requirements such that our funding can make a meaningful difference in the company's trajectory
Applicants must 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:
VRTU (pronounced ‘virtue’) is an immersive tech company with a focus on mental health applications. It is currently developing a therapeutic tool for people with dementia using Virtual Reality. VRTU takes a unique approach to an existing form of dementia treatment called Reminiscence Therapy, which reactivates old memories to enhance cognitive functions and emotional wellbeing of people with dementia. VRTU’s mobile app contains a catalogue of historical experiences that can be used to deliver Virtual Reminiscence Therapy™. Compared to conventional forms of RT, VRTU's solution is more immersive, engaging, cost-effective, and accessible. It aims to improve dementia sufferers’ lives through cognitive stimulation, as well as improvement of their communicative ability and mental wellbeing.
Redbird Health Tech is changing the way patients interact with the Ghanaian healthcare system to better combat the rising burden of non-communicable and chronic disease. A for-profit social enterprise, Redbird looks to leverage the existing skills and infrastructure of pharmacies and over-the-counter (OTC) chemists to create more convenient health testing options for all patients, but especially those with chronic conditions. Redbird enables pharmacies and OTC chemists to perform on-site rapid testing for the diagnosis and monitoring of health conditions moving care closer to the patient, improving patient involvement and identifying adverse health outcomes when corrective action is still possible.
PowerMarket, a product of SunReign Ltd, was founded with a mission – sustainable energy for all. Incubated by Oxford University Innovation and European Space Agency, PowerMarket uses downstream satellite data and deep-learning to help individuals and companies globally assess their potential solar within a couple of clicks.
Tulivu Imaging is a medical diagnostics service provider initially focusing on affordable ultrasound in Kenya. Their mobile teams bring existing health facilities the medical devices and expertise they need so that they can give their customers the care they deserve. Tulivu Imaging’s model trains nurse-midwives and concentrates demand into specific days of the week, meaning they can optimise the utilisation of their equipment, therefore lowering the overall costs enabling them to charge approximately half of the prevailing rate for services like ultrasound. So far, Tulivu Imaging has established a strong relationship with GE that recently released an ultrasound device designed for low-resource settings. Tulivu Imaging launched their pilot in May 2016, where they worked with six clinics across the Nairobi area, over six weeks.Tulivu Imaging’s clinic partners have an opportunity to benefit from a small share of revenue and increase their overall patient volumes.
I-Drop Water is changing the cost structure of drinking water sales by purifying water at the point of sale in formal and informal general grocery stores throughout Africa. An I-Drop Water unit incorporates a GSM sim card for remote monitoring and control allowing the team to install an I-Drop unit at no cost to shop owners and to share ongoing water sales revenues. Customers refill multi-use water containers paying by the litre for the water they buy – typically at prices up to 80% less per litre than bottled water. In re-using drinking water containers, I-Drop Water is also considerably reducing the impact of plastic waste associated with the bottled water industry. I-Drop Water has recently been chosen as the South African finalist for Chivas The Venture – an annual international competition that recognises social entrepreneurs across the globe.
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.
Accomable is a web platform designed to make it easier for disabled people to organise and book travel.
Says 2013 MBA and Accomable 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.'
The Skoll Centre newsletter goes out weekly during term time.
Sign up here to receive it!