University of Oxford: Student entrepreneurs win award

The StEP programme gives students the opportunity to have a go at becoming an entrepreneurs, challenging students to identify an idea for a new business based on a University research project, develop a business plan, and prepare a pitch to real investors – all in just four weeks. Teams compete for a £25,000 investment to help turn their idea into a commercial business.

Launched in 2019, the programme was developed by Oxford University Innovation (OUI), Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE), and Saïd Business School. Previous winners include Quantum Dice, a fast growing quantum technology start-up focused on technology to future proof the security of information.

This year’s winners – Cequestre – are a team of seven students from across the University who impressed the judges with their pitch for investment to form a novel carbon capture and utilisation company. Cequestre aims to extend the lifetime of existing resources by making carbon capture profitable and was based around state-of-the-art green technology developed by Dr Tiancun Xiao, Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Chemistry.

Lilly Bussmann, Head of Network, Oxford Science Enterprises, said, ‘Cequestre were an incredibly focussed team, they identified a solution to an incredibly difficult problem, built a strong relationship with their academic founder and then pitched their idea for a business in a clear and considered way. Convincing the judging panel that, if adopted, the technology could tip the balance for decarbonisation whilst also securing attractive returns for investors.’

Chloe Fairhurst, Project Lead, said, ‘Winning to us is confidence in Cequestre to build the future. We are a community with a shared vision to be the difference the world needs to see.’

The team will now receive support from Oxford Science Enterprises and Oxford University Innovation to get their project off the ground and start their new spinout.

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