University Of Oxford Harnesses Student And Lecturer Brain Power With Cloud Platform

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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One of the world’s oldest universities is crowdsourcing ideas for innovative new digital projects

The University of Oxford has launched a cloud-based open innovation platform, utilising the brain power of staff and students to generate ideas for innovative digital projects that address key challenges for the University.

Powered by Idea Spotlight from Wazoku, an enterprise innovation software provider, the Oxford Ideas platform will request ideas in response to specific challenges posed. Initially to be used for the IT Innovation Seed Fund challenge, part of the University’s IT Capital Fund, which sets out to seed fund small innovative IT projects, Oxford Ideas will be launched fully to more than 40,000 staff and students in Hilary Term 2015.

Allowing debate

“The University’s current and future IT strategy is wedded to IT innovation and we required a platform to bring all our ideas together for discussion and development,” said Dr Stuart Lee,Deputy CIO, IT Services, University of Oxford. “Crowdsourcing ideas is a concept that we’ve been looking at for some time and Oxford Ideas gives us the perfect platform to do that. It allows discussion, comment and debate around ideas and as a cloud platform allows us to scale upwards as required.”

University of OxfordEach term will see a call for ideas that address challenges faced by the University of Oxford. A pilot scheme is underway and the plan is that Hilary term will see the University run challenges for students for smaller projects that would then run for eight weeks over the summer.

“We have ambitious objectives for Oxford Ideas and are expecting high engagement across staff and students, with at least 10 staff projects and five student projects funded by the end of the first year,” continued Dr Stuart Lee. “We also want to see evidence of collaboration across disparate units within the University. Wazoku’s platform allows and indeed encourages this type of collaboration, and we are excited about what we can achieve.”

Wazoku’s Idea Spotlight software-as-a-service is also used by Aviva, Anglian Water, Capita and many other organisations to capture and develop ideas. Marketed as a flexible and scalable platform, Idea Spotlight allows communities to discuss and vote on the ideas submitted.

“The ideas imagined by some of the world’s most powerful minds within the University of Oxford, is a highly-compelling prospect,” commented Simon Hill, CEO, Wazoku. “You would think the University of Oxford would have little problem coming up with innovations, but having a platform to submit and collaborate on ideas is important for any organisation. Crowdsourcing ideas is an emerging trend in business, academia and the public sector and I am particularly interested to see what ideas the University of Oxford comes up with.”

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