Supporting digital innovation

Not everything is about software upgrades, telephones or help with forgotten passwords. Digital innovation is also an important part of what IT Services provides and enables for the wider university.

Digital hand emerging from a laptop monitor and shaking hands with a person

Emerging technologies (such as machine learning, business process automation or virtual reality) give the University new opportunities for digital innovation. It is our role to reach out to colleagues and students across the organisation and work with them to find new ways to use existing tools, or to support breakthrough inventions for the benefit of everyone working or studying at Oxford.

So, what’s in it for you? Our support for digital innovation comes in four ways, exploring new ideas, supporting innovation, building collaboration networks and looking to the future. If you have an idea, are working on something, or are simply interested, there are a number of ways you can contribute or get involved.  Read on to find out more.

Exploring new ideas

We are interested in promoting innovative thinking and sharing ideas across the University. In the past, successful initiatives like the IT Innovation Challenges have delivered a range of new services and applications, such as Open Cabinet and Cabinet.

We have now made Oxford Ideas available as a service. This is an online space accessible to all members of the University which you can use to collect ideas for your project, funding call, or any other reason. Get in touch to see how we can help – our contact information is at the bottom of this article.

Supporting innovation

This academic year our particular focus is on immersive technologies and artificial intelligence. But we are interested in all sorts of emerging technologies and review our focus every year. 

We provide two main types of support:

  • enhanced support for an emerging area that may need consolidation
  • support for kick-starting projects at a more experimental level.

At the moment, our enhanced support is focussed on consolidating the Oxford XR-Hub, an initiative that developed as a result of previous IT Innovation Challenges. The Hub brings together immersive technologies within the University for research, innovation, commercialisation of research outputs and the development of new skills. It also provides consultancy services as well as access to specialised equipment and expertise to develop bespoke apps for teaching or outreach. To meet growing demand, the Hub will also be piloting a consultancy service on 3D-photogrammetry to support teaching and research. Look out for more information about this in the future.  

Our other area of support is kick-starting projects on Artificial Intelligence (AI): we will be exploring solutions for real-life challenges using AI applications and welcome your ideas on this – please share on Oxford Ideas.

Building collaboration networks  

We have created two virtual spaces using Nexus365 (Microsoft) Teams: the virtual reality (VR) forum and the artificial intelligence (AI) forum to bring together everyone interested in these areas so they can discuss and share ideas. If you are member of staff with an idea involving a new piece of technology that you would like to explore, or if you need advice on how to use a new tool for your project, you can use these spaces or you can talk to us directly (contact information is below).

Looking to the future

Digital innovation is also about anticipating future needs and trends to inform decisions or take advantage of opportunities. We do this through an ongoing ‘horizon scanning’ exercise, acting as an observatory for emerging trends and sharing our findings with colleagues across the University. We can work with you to help you anticipate what emerging technologies may be impact or benefit your work – do get in touch!

IT Services plays a key role in supporting the lifecycle of digital innovation and we look forward to working with our partners to explore and experiment to achieve maximum benefit for Oxford University.

Find out more

You can find out more about digital innovation at Oxford on our innovation web page and the XR-Hub, or by emailing the team.