The Oxford Foundry officially opened its doors on 11 October.
The event included Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Inc. in conversation with Professor Peter Tufano, Peter Moores Dean, Saїd Business School.
Over 250 people attended the launch of the new entrepreneurial hub, with hundreds following the event on the livestream. Professor Louise Richardson, Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford, opened proceedings by providing a spotlight on Oxford’s thriving innovation ecosystem.
Thanking the donors, the inaugural Director of the Foundry Ana Bakshi, and the various teams that have made the Oxford Foundry possible, Dean Tufano outlined the vision of the Oxford Foundry to be a place where ideas come together, from people of different backgrounds, expertise and academic disciplines. He stressed that the Oxford Foundry is a place for all 23,000 students at the University of Oxford to experiment, learn and create impacts that make the world a better place.
Dean Tufano was then joined on stage by Tim Cook. Cook discussed his personal background, work philosophy and sources of inspiration, and was frank about his relationship with co-founder Steve Jobs and what he had learnt from him.
Giving practical advice to entrepreneurs he recommended that businesses stay close to the customer, listening to them to sustain satisfaction. He sets aside an hour each day to read customer emails and added that: ‘One of the key reasons we have retail stores is to touch our customers and hear from them.’
For those considering a start-up Cook recommended surrounding yourself with the right people – those that are not like you, but where the common thread is they want to change the world. ‘If you’re in engineering make sure you get someone in liberal arts. If you’re from the UK make sure you get someone from the Middle East or from China….It is the combination of people that enhances performance,’ he said.
Before moving to answer audience questions ranging from how to work out whether to stick with a product that appears to be failing, to his thoughts on the emerging technologies he’s really excited about (which is augmented reality), Cook spoke about Steve Jobs. He said that Steve taught him the value of focus and that joy came from performing the daily things in life well. ‘You had to be ruthless when you choose what you want to be good at. If you spread yourself too think either personally or professionally you won’t do great work.’
The evening concluded with drinks and networking.
Open to all students at the University of Oxford, the Oxford Foundry is housed in a renovated Victorian ice factory and is spread over two floors. It offers co-working space, presentation areas, and a café at ground level - enabling entrepreneurially-minded people to meet, collaborate, create new ventures, or build the skills to bring innovation into their careers. Upstairs, there is an incubator space for accelerating new ventures.
The Oxford Foundry has been made possible by the generous support of the following major donors: Reid Hoffman, Co-founder of LinkedIn, the Amersi Foundation, EY, Barclays, Meltwater Fairhair.ai, and DeTao Education Group. An Advisory Board, chaired by Brent Hoberman, will bring expertise, insight and advice to the Foundry community.
Ana Bakshi, Director of the Oxford Foundry concludes: ‘Entrepreneurship is of increasing importance to students. As a generation, millennials desire to be more socially responsible, innovative and to make an impact. Whether starting their own ventures or aspiring to lead in organisations, the Oxford Foundry will develop students’ entrepreneurial skills, understanding and self-efficacy. The aim is to create future leaders whatever career they pursue.’