The county is home to innovative business people with close ties to Oxford’s universities; recently, these local entrepreneurs asked the local authority to look at Oxfordshire’s challenges in a different way. The County Council supported the development of a working group and we found that for a city like Oxfordshire to develop new agile solutions, it’s necessary to develop a “living laboratory” approach. Councils have to get close to research like this, because userinfluenced solutions are going from research to implementation more quickly than ever before. Now, it can take as little as 18 months to two years for some solutions to come online. While getting hold of data is important to the innovation process, the collective approach also brings people with different areas of expertise together to share and challenge ideas.
From our initial work, then, we established MobOx Foundation CIC, because we decided that the central core, which enables innovative projects to happen, needs to be neutral. So we set it up as a form of social enterprise. Its aim is to support, incubate and develop new ideas and new opportunities, to solve the problem of urban transport in Oxford and elsewhere, with Oxford and Oxfordshire to act as a supporting “test” facility. Oxfordshire is now part of a number of and EV projects to smart parking. The aim is to learn about these solutions and, where possible, to integrate and develop them.
Llewelyn Morgan, Head of Innovation