US Ambassador praises Oxford's high-tech innovation

Published: Thursday, 1st October 2015

US Ambassador Matthew W. Barzun visited Oxford on Wednesday to meet with representatives of the city’s universities, Oxford City Council, social entrepreneurism leads and high-technology businesses.

The key themes of Ambassador Barzun’s visit were to learn more about how the city excels in partnership working, high-tech applications and social entrepreneurship.

Ambassador Barzun and US Embassy colleagues began their trip to the city with a visit to Oxford Brookes’ Headington Campus with interactive demonstrations from staff and students at the universities, including:

  • a demonstration from Oxbotica, a spin-out from the University of Oxford’s internationally acclaimed Mobile Robotics Group which specialises in mobile autonomy, navigation and perception.
  • Artie the artificial intelligence robot from Oxford Brookes’ Department of Computing and Communication Technologies
  • the Oxford Brookes Racing team including a demonstration of the Formula Student car

This part of the visit was also an opportunity for Ambassador Barzun to hear more about the important work being led by Oxford City Council, the Oxford Strategic Partnership, the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Andrew Smith MP.

Ambassador Barzun then met with three hi-tech businesses based in Oxford. Representatives from Natural Motion, Adlens and Nominet spoke about how high-tech innovation with its home in Oxford is having an impact locally, nationally and globally.

Following a wide-ranging discussion on partnership working and innovation, Ambassador Barzun visited Yellow Submarine in the city which is a fantastic example of social entrepreneurism in action.

Yellow Submarine is an award-winning charity which prides itself on giving some of the most disadvantaged people in Oxfordshire confidence, independence and a sense of self-worth. Ambassador Barzun visited the charity’s Park End Street social enterprise cafe where he spoke with those involved in this innovative initiative.

This was a theme which continued when Ambassador Barzun travelled to the Saïd Business School where he met with representatives of the Oxfordshire Social Entrepreneurship Partnership (OSEP).

OSEP has been set up to help existing and prospective social entrepreneurs plan, develop and grow their businesses. It is an initiative managed and operated jointly by Oxford Brookes University, University of Oxford - including the internationally renowned Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship - and Student Hubs.

While at Saïd Business School, the Ambassador also took the opportunity to speak with staff and students and hear further about the partnership and world-leading innovation work which makes Oxford a unique city.

Speaking at the event, Ambassador Barzun said: “This was a wonderful opportunity to hear more about what is happening here in the city. I was impressed with the use of the brand of Oxford and all of its history. This is happening whilst being inspired by the past, rather than imprisoned by it. I love what is happening here.”

Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, commented: “The City Council is pleased to have this opportunity to showcase the economic dynamism of Oxford and the surrounding area. I’m sure that the Ambassador could not fail to be impressed by the most innovative city in Britain, and we hope he will encourage US based companies to invest in our area, along the ‘knowledge spine’ from Bicester to Harwell.”

Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice Chancellor of Oxford Brookes and part of the welcoming committee for the activities happening on the University’s Headington Campus, said: “We are very proud of the innovation and partnership working which takes place on a daily basis here in Oxford. We were able to provide Ambassador Barzun with an exciting range of demonstrations and the opportunity to speak with the various partners in Oxford who help to ensure we are at the forefront of innovation. Oxford excels in this area and today’s visit was a great opportunity to demonstrate this.”

Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford, added: “Innovation is a key priority for the University and we were delighted to have the chance to show some of our groundbreaking research to the Ambassador, including Oxbotica, an exciting spin-out from our Mobile Robotics Group.”