Head-to-Head with Wendy Tindsley, OI’s Innovation Director
We went head-to-head with Wendy Tindsley, Innovation Director for Oxford Innovation (or OI), who provides business support for businesses in both centres – the Wood Centre for Innovation and the Oxford Centre for Innovation owned by The Oxford Trust. She has worked as a Business Development Manager for a high-tech growth company, run several of her own companies as well as a start-up accelerator programme. This gives her a wealth of experience in coaching and mentoring innovative start-ups and scale-ups. Wendy – and Oxford Innovation – are based in the Oxford Centre for Innovation on New Road.
The Oxford Trust was set up by our founders Sir Martin and Lady Audrey Wood to support science and tech start-ups. Their experience of creating Oxford Instruments, one of the University’s first spin-out companies, enabled them to appreciate the challenges that face young entrepreneurs. They saw how hard it was to get started, find suitable premises in Oxford and get business support. That’s why the innovation centres are more than just an office for our businesses. We want to help companies thrive and grow.
Our innovation centres are run by Oxford Innovation – a spin out of the Trust. Over the last 30 years, they’ve created 20,00 jobs, helped raise over £130 million investment and assisted over 20,000 companies through their 26 centres across the UK. As you can see, they have an outstanding track record of incubating and accelerating businesses and Wendy is a key part of that success in Oxfordshire.
So, what does an Innovation Director actually do? Firstly, Wendy offers businesses 1-to-1 support and coaching to set goals and overcome challenges, like fundraising, finding new markets, and scaling-up. Networked with many stakeholders and partners across Oxfordshire, she can also make connections – whether it’s with other businesses, clients or linking to opportunities. Thirdly, Wendy can help start-ups to increase their knowledge and up-skill to ensure they have the right skills at the right time to expand and grow. This is mainly done through events, seminars, workshops and clinics – whether it’s on digital marketing, emotional intelligence or even legal matters. And, lastly, she creates communities of like-minded businesses that can help each other and collaborate where relevant.
Wendy has had some amazing success stories and quite a variety of requests for support. One entrepreneur was experiencing problems of supply for organic compound synthesizing and Wendy directed him to a UK university that was able to help with his specific requirement, freeing up his business to grow. She has worked with a leading academic to improve the board structure of his business and prepare the company for exit. More recently, she has assisted a company at our Oxford Centre for Innovation with cash flow problems created by COVID-19 to unlock $10K of Amazon Web Service credits and significant amounts of unclaimed R&D tax credits.
Not only that, there are also a raft of other services that Wendy can connect businesses to through Oxford Innovation’s “sister”, or associated, companies. Wendy has expertise in raising funding as well as access to angel or high net worth investors through OION (Oxford Investment Opportunity Network) – also an early spin-out of the Trust. She can link start-ups to the Enterprise Europe Network too. Active in over 60 countries around the world, it creates business opportunities and partnerships by linking those with new technologies to more established businesses that are looking for solutions. And, lastly, Wendy’s connection to Innovate 2 Succeed can help start-ups with coaching and mentoring to aid strategic growth.
Oxford Innovation has created some great business tools too – like their GROWTHmapper® which, for larger companies, collects and analyses the insights of the team to measure progress and ensure everyone stays on track. For smaller companies GROWTHmapper® makes sure that things do not get forgotten. It helps keep track of the priorities and monitors progress. Oxford Innovation’s sister company, Intelligent Connections has even developed a simple online tool to help companies prepare R&D tax credit claims in under one hour. The downloadable reports meet all HMRC requirements and for a fixed fee companies receive a fully compliant report that enables them to increase revenue from R&D tax credit claims.
Another bonus is that Oxford Innovation is one of 160 official Amazon Web Service Partners worldwide which means that companies in our centres may be able to benefit from free support. These packages include valuable business, technical and marketing support as well as significant financial assistance for those using the cloud.
So, if you’re working in one of our innovation centres and got something you need help with, just pick up the phone and call Wendy. We want to see businesses in our innovation centres thrive and grow. Good luck!
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