Social enterprises are companies which combine the impact-centric agenda of a charity with the profit generation strategies of a business. How this is achieved differs from company to company, but fundamental to all social enterprise is the concept of replacing the profitability goal at the core of mainstream businesses with an impact mission focused on enacting positive societal or environmental change.
To date, the innovation side of the University has supported creation of two types of business: regular startup businesses created by the student body, and ventures based on intellectual property from the University supported by OUI, known as spinouts. Typically, spinouts are formed around a patentable technology, such as a potential therapeutic candidate or an engineering project. This model has been successful for turning Oxford research into reality, with the University creating over 160 spinout companies since OUI opened its doors in 1987, 19 of which were launched in the past year.