Apple CEO Cook to open Oxford university start-up hub

“Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, will open Oxford university’s first dedicated space for start-ups created by students, alumni and staff on Wednesday,” Jonathan Moules reports for The Financial Times.

“Mr Cook will be joined by a number of tech entrepreneurs when he cuts the ribbon at The Foundry, a converted ice factory in the centre of the ancient college city that has been kitted out with meeting rooms, free WiFi and desk space for early-stage business teams,” Moules reports. “The facility was funded by £3.2m in gifts, including £1m from Reid Hoffman, co-founder of the LinkedIn social network, as well as support from the charitable foundation of Mohamed Amersi, the entrepreneur, EY, the accountancy, Meltwater, the US-based data analytics business, and the DeTao Education Group of China.”

“An entrepreneur advisory group chaired by Brent Hoberman, the Lastminute.com co-founder and an Oxford graduate, and including Phil Libin, co-founder of note-taking app Evernote, and Biz Stone, Twitter co-founder, helped design The Foundry,” Moules reports.

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MacDailyNews Take: Congrats, Oxford!

12 Comments

  1. The building now housing the Foundry may have originally been an ice factory, but in recent years it was a night club with a somewhat dodgy reputation, but even that was something of an improvement over what it was before the area was gentrified. It used to be the heart of the red light light district on the outer edges of the City of Oxford and is still something of a ‘lively’ neighbourhood, largely due to the adjacent backpacker’s hostel and some busy clubs and restaurants.

    I think it’s current use is a considerable improvement over what that building has been used for during my lifetime.

    It should be a great space for start-ups as it’s extremely close to the railway station and equally close to the bus station. Both the trains and luxury coaches offer fast connections to London and the coaches run a frequent service, even right through the night 365 days per year ( I often use them myself to get home from London at around 3am ).

    The traditional Oxford Colleges are all within walking distance – which is just as well because Oxford City council have today announced that non-electric vehicles ( including buses and trucks ) will be progressively banned from the centre of Oxford, starting in the heart of town in 2020 and with the area widening at five year intervals to include the roads serving the Foundry in that first expansion in 2025.

      1. The measures are being taken to reduce the amount of particulates and gases from vehicle exhaust emissions. Fossil fuel power stations filter them out much more effectively, and don’t concentrate it in busy city centres like cars do.

        There is no practical way to determine what energy source was used to recharge a vehicle, so it’s not feasible to ban cars which have been recharged from electricity generated from burning fossil fuels, while allowing those charged from other power sources.

        Renewable energy sources such as wind power and solar power are now accounting for a high proportion of the UK’s power needs and there are now occasional days where no fossil fuel power stations operate at all, with all our electricity being generated from renewable or nuclear sources.

          1. Governments seem to love nuclear power, but the population largely don’t want them, especially if the installations are located near to where they live. In a relatively small island like Britain, where nowhere is more than 75 miles from the coastline, there are no large, unpopulated areas for nuclear power stations to be situated a long distance from sizeable towns.

            Similar problems complicate fracking, which is particularly problematic in the UK as we’re on the edge of a continental shelf and our geology has been massively distorted by tectonic movements, so the geological layers don’t always lie in nice level layers, which makes fracking much more tricky to carry out predictably. The proximity of population centres and reliance on nearby water resources make it much more of a gamble where the losses could far outweigh any gains.

            However economics are coming into play because the cost of renewable energy is rapidly reducing, as is the cost of storing energy for when solar or wind power can’t deliver, so there is a huge question mark over the viability of fracking and whether the next big nuclear power station will ever get built. Renewables are already offering energy at competitive prices and are likely to become cheaper, without massive decommissioning problems once their useful working life has ended.

            Being on the edge of a continent, the UK has much stronger and more reliable winds than most countries, together with tidal ranges which are amongst the largest in the world. Wind power is mostly coming from wind turbines located in the sea, where the wind is stronger and more reliable. There is currently a lot of politically motivated opposition to on-shore wind turbines, which means that comparatively few of them are on-land in the UK compared to other European countries.

            Tidal power is only being marginally exploited at the moment and it is particularly attractive for power generation due to being totally predictable and reliable. While a tidal generator only produces power during certain states of the tide, locating multiple installations around our coastline means that as the time of the tides vary around our coastline, at any given moment some of them will be operating at peak power while only a few of them will be producing none. There is a tidal lagoon being brought into service in Cardiff, Wales, with a capacity of 3GW ( 5.5TWh per year ). That’s more power than is used by every home in all of Wales.

            Massive power generation projects have to be funded by governments, but local councils can do a lot to improve air quality in their towns by banning polluting vehicles from those towns.

            Oxford City has used hybrid diesel-electric buses for many years and it’s quite spooky to observe a huge double decker bus ( similar to traditional London buses ) silently move off while full of passengers. They’re now replacing the hybrids with all-electric buses.

        1. Take nuclear energy out of the equation and it all falls apart. The end game of climate change absolutism is to eliminate all fossil fuel use and return people to more primitive lifestyles. California’s delusional idea to allow only electric cars by 2040 is physically impossible. I’d have more patience for electric car enthusiasts if they weren’t mostly nuclear energy alarmists.

        1. Oh and people are having their life expectancy reduced in cities by ICE exhaust fumes so that’s a worthwhile advance in itself by removing them from the equation until the time all fossil fuel can be eliminated.

  2. They should take the genuine bold step of banning fossil fuels from powering those electric vehicles, for now it’s just progressive window dressing, outsourcing emissions elsewhere.

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