The Grand Depart – Day 1 of the SUCCESS Bootcamp

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6th April 2020

The SUCCESS programme is a first-of-its-kind opportunity designed to help social scientists with innovative and marketable research ideas to get the training, support and funding to transform those ideas into a business or social enterprise.

Chris Fellingham, Licensing & Ventures Manager in the Social Sciences and Humanities at Oxford University Innovation – and Aspect SUCCESS Programme Lead – reflects on Day 1 of the SUCCESS Bootcamp.

It wasn’t the launch we had planned for. The SUCCESS programme, loosely modelled as ‘ICURe for Social Sciences’, was originally intended to be a 3-day bootcamp in Sheffield with hotels, venues, restaurants and speakers all planned, but like everything else we had to adapt to a new way of working as a result of COVID-19 – challenge accepted!

Let’s rewind… SUCCESS is an 8-month programme providing Social Scientists in ASPECT network universities with training and support to help them turn promising research into a licence, venture or Social Enterprise. 

The programme has 3 key phases:

  • Providing entrepreneurial training (a 3 day bootcamp)
  • Market validation – where the projects are given a budget and encouraged to talk to users and customers
  • A session in November, where our entrepreneurs get the opportunity to pitch their idea to investors for up to £50,000 in prize money 

As a result of the pandemic, we had little under 2 weeks to turn what was meant to be a physical bootcamp into a fully functioning virtual event

We had a number of questions, including:

  • Would people concentrate if they were just staring at a screen?
  • Would groups really work if they’d never met in person?
  • Would people engage or would they feel that the programme hadn’t met their expectations?
  • Were there things we could do online that we couldn’t do offline?

Day 1 took place on the 1st April and we were delighted with the results. The key focus of the day was equipping the cohort with knowledge on how to develop research opportunities so that they can be transformed into value for others.

The technology ran smoothly (we made the decision to switch to Zoom only the day before) – in particular, our group structures were made easy via the breakout room functions.

The most important part, however, was the fantastic engagement – the teams were curious and quick to pick up concepts (even our seasoned instructors were impressed). As we worked through basic ideas, such as how to communicate and think about competencies, there were already clear signs of the entrepreneurial mindset switching on – people having lightbulb moments and thoughts on how to translate complex research quickly for a non-expert audience.

We’re just at the start – day 2 (taking place on the 8th April) will bring more challenges as we dive deeper into the skills – but the early signs are hugely promising as participants, instructors and the programme managers learn and iterate together,


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