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There is increasing interest from business and government in multi-disciplinary research to understand the changing needs of society and the changing needs for products and services. This is evident in recent funding calls and the trend is increasing.

Mariarosaria taddeo at the be event 1 John Cairns
Mariarosaria Taddeo, Deputy Director of the Digital Ethics Lab Oxford Internet Institute speaks at the event

In partnership with the Humanities Division we are creating a new Business Engagement and Partnerships team to work alongside existing divisional Research and Impact Support teams. Esther Brown, our new Head of Business Engagement and Partnerships, joins us on 1 June. We hope two Business Engagement Managers will be in post later in the summer.

The team will help researchers identify and co-develop collaborative projects with business partners, secure funding from the new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) and other business-related funding, and work with businesses to deliver impact for the private sector. Social Sciences research has a great deal to offer business and industry: providing insights into human behaviour, creating efficiencies and helping businesses to engage with their customers and client base as disruptive technologies, such as AI, take effect.

One of the programme’s objective is to organise engagement events to stimulate business interest in what the two Divisions have to offer. A pilot event on 15 March at the Oxford Martin School tested out how this engagement could work. The theme of the event was innovation, and seven speakers gave an impression of the full spectrum of Social Science and Humanities activities from ground breaking research to real world implementation.

There were four short TED style presentations:

The Ethics of Brain-Computer Interfaces for Communication - Dr Hannah Maslen, Deputy Director, Uehiro Centre

Digital ethics to shape digital innovation - Dr Mariarosaria Taddeo, Deputy Director, Digital Ethics Lab Oxford Internet Institute

The future of marketing - Professor Andrew Stephen, Associate Dean, Research Business School & Loreal Professor of Marketing

The world’s largest comparative study of online news consumption - Dr David Levy, Director, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Watch a video of the presentations

 

The talks were followed by networking sessions:

  • Professor Kirsten Shepherd-Barr talked about her idea for an English Literature app
  • Dr Aditi Lahiri talked about the spin out of her voice recognition research
  • Dr John Hammock talked about his World changing Multidimensional Poverty Index

The audience included Oxford academics, Oxford Innovation Society, Oxford University Innovation and business people. The event was a great success and feedback from all sides was very positive.

It was fascinating to talk with industry colleagues on issues that will impinge on education in the coming years. Even if it seems like we are in different sectors now, there are a lot of connections when we look to the future of education. Professor Jo-Anne Baird

I haven't been to anything like this at Oxford, and the event gave me an immersive and enjoyable introduction to what innovation can mean for Humanities scholars like me. You might have an idea but you're not sure what to do with it or what mechanisms there are to help you within the university.  This event gave me the opportunity to learn about the process as well as meeting people who might be interested in helping.

Professor Kirsten Shepherd-Barr

A wonderful and rare event that brought together an exciting group of innovators from across the University. It was tremendously stimulating to be in the room with scholars and entrepreneurs, many of whom are thinking critically and deeply about technology and the digital economy.

Dr Kate Roll

The participants voted on possible subjects for the follow up events. They chose ‘The Morality of AI’ followed by ‘The Society of the Future’ and ‘Identity in the Digital Age’. We will be looking for speakers on these subjects very soon.