A designated hub for startups is set to be opened by Apple’s CEO Tim Cook at Oxford University. Cook will participate in a question and answer session at the site following its unveiling later today, according to the Financial Times.
The Foundry will be a dedicated facility used for the cultivation of startups created by students, alumni and staff of the university. A report from the Financial Times claims Cook will officially open The Foundry, which will serve as Oxford's first dedicated space for entrepreneurial startups. A large focus of the centre will be on technological innovations with a series of events taking place to encourage creative disruption. On its official webpage, Oxford says The Foundry will provide students with access to support funds, host workshops, run competitions and hackathons, manage an e-library and more. Select startups can also take advantage of the Amersi Foundation Accelerator space. Importantly, any IP created by students remains in their control.
Located in the centre of Oxford’s college, the former ice factory was turned into the space thanks to £3.2 million in donations. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, who put in £1 million pounds toward the effort, is credited as the first founding member. Other funding comes from a charitable foundation run by Emergent Telecom Ventures founder and CEO Mohamed Amersi, Ernst & Young, data analytics firm Meltwater and China's DeTao Education Group.
The centre is another example of innovation taking place outside of the capital, with a growing trend of tech startups forming clusters in smaller towns and cities around the UK. In particular, smaller cities across the UK are fuelling technology innovation in niche areas such as manufacturing, virtual reality and IoT production. The fifth UK Tech Innovation Index found that while London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Brighton and Southampton are the top five cities for data innovation, Reading and Liverpool are leaders in the internet of things (IoT). Meanwhile Coventry and Aberdeen topped the leaderboard for manufacturing and Cardiff was also identified as showing ‘early signs of an emerging virtual reality innovation cluster’.