Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and partner at Greylock Partners, today announced a $1M gift to support entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School and across the University of Oxford. Hoffman’s gift is a founding donation for ‘The Oxford Foundry,’ a new initiative driven by Oxford Saïd in collaboration with other departments, where he has also agreed to be the Senior Advisor giving his time and advice to help start and scale new ventures.
Hoffman made the announcement at a Distinguished Speaker Seminar at Oxford Saïd where, ‘in conversation’ with the School’s Dean Peter Tufano, he talked about entrepreneurship, blitzscaling, trends in technology, career trajectories in the modern world, challenges to existing educational systems, and answered questions on a wide range of other topics from an audience of over 500 students and entrepreneurs.
Oxford has long produced entrepreneurs of exceptional calibre, most recently supported by the Launchpad at Oxford Saïd which provides hands-on experience, training and resources to students from the business school and the University. The Launchpad has attracted nearly two thousand members in just two years in a space of about 100 square metres. The Oxford Foundry will maintain this same spirit of pan-University collaboration, but be able to engage more entrepreneurial students and those from the local community with more events, programming and business support.
In announcing The Oxford Foundry, Professor Tufano highlighted the need for a new, dramatically increased space that would expand the scope of activities. ‘The Launchpad at Oxford Saïd has proven to be a phenomenal success since it opened in 2014, and has been a hothouse for entrepreneurial ideas that will transform businesses, communities, and the world,’ said Professor Tufano. ‘Our research at Oxford Saïd suggests that we need to not only start enterprises, but scale them. Reid’s work on “blitzscaling” develops this idea even further. We need to follow our own advice, and dramatically scale up our support for student entrepreneurs, making the network deeper and richer.
Our plans to 'go big' require financial support and expert guidance,’ continued Tufano. ‘We are grateful to Reid on both counts. His visionary founding gift is a challenge grant that can match other donors to the Foundry. His kind willingness to serve as Senior Advisor provides us with the wisdom of someone who has started, and invested in, some of the most iconic businesses in the world today, including LinkedIn.’
The Oxford Foundry name and location - outside the current Oxford Saïd premises - signal that the Foundry will be open to all. It will be a space that can be recognised in its own right for innovation and idea-generation, providing facilities for co-working, meeting and networking, and presentation areas for lectures and conferences.
From my experience in Silicon Valley, I’ve learned that the ecosystems that most strongly support entrepreneurship are those that truly understand and harness the power of networks - for talent, capital, and ideas,’ said Hoffman. ‘The Foundry will be a hub for Oxford’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to advance ground-breaking new ideas, prototype and experiment, connect to funders, and to build strong transformative ventures and that will impact the world in positive ways.’
Professor Tarassenko CBE FREng, the Head of the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford and the founder of four companies, said: ‘The Oxford entrepreneurial ecosystem is growing very fast, with more and more students from engineering and the physical sciences finding their way to the Launchpad. Reid Hoffman’s gift to launch the Oxford Foundry is very timely, and I believe it will soon become one of the University landmarks for our students.’
The Oxford Foundry will continue to deliver the programmes, events and funding competitions established by the staff and faculty at the Launchpad, including the Building a Business lecture Series, the student led Oxford Seed Fund competition, and the Oxford Venture Idea Exploration Workshop (VIEW). This year the School will also launch the Oxford Saïd Entrepreneurship Forum (OSEF) – an intensive and immersive, one-day event to promote, develop, and embed entrepreneurial thinking at the University of Oxford.
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