Live Lab


What is Live Lab ...?

Live Lab is a design business incubator situated in the School of Architecture, whose aim is to enable interdisciplinary entrepreneurs from among recent graduates to establish business enterprises, practice start-ups and product-to-market companies that are also willing to contribute in at least one service design oriented, civic engagement project.

How does Live Lab work ...?

We aim to facilitate graduate entrepreneurship by taking an innovative approach to the development of new businesses and the infrastructure that supports them. We do this by connecting students to projects with commercial companies AND community partners. These projects are selected on the basis that they will form the ‘proof-of-concept’ basis of your business idea. Live Lab is deeply committed to facilitating the emergence of design lead social innovation start-ups as a means to impact upon diverse communities, increase graduate employment and facilitate the emergence of niche market economies.

So what can Live Lab offer me ...?

  • Each summer, six MArchD in Applied Design in Architecture graduates - or interdisciplinary teams with start-up business ideas - will be invited to become Live Lab Associates (LLA’s).
  • Each LLA will be offered a 12-month contract, and a rent-free open workspace situated in the Abercrombie Building.
  • LLA’s will have access to the School of Architecture resources (workshop, computers, library) as well as being able to access business advice and on-going professional practice and business mentoring and guidance.
  • LLA’s will receive free training as part of the Entrepreneurship courses available at Brookes.
  • In addition to in-house mentoring, LLA’s gain from monthly mentoring meetings with established practice directors
  • Live Lab helps facilitates relationships between Live Lab Associates and design projects situated in both practice and community contexts.
  • LLA’s project work can contribute towards their Part III PEDR
  • LLA’s benefit from a Brookes Part III Fee waiver
  • The mentoring, training and free workspace & resource support offered amount to at least £15-16,000 saving per year to each start up.

So how do I know if I’ve got what it takes to be a Live Lab Associate ...?

Are you a design entrepreneur seeking to set up your own interdisciplinary, innovative & socially responsible niche practice? Are you working on a product or design project that you think would have a big impact/achieve commercial success? Are you willing to devote some of your time as a LLA to making a difference to the local community in Oxford as a means to develop your professional capabilities and company portfolio? Then Live Lab is for you.

Ok, I’m interested ...!

This is excellent news! The first thing you need to do is e-mail the director, Harriet Harriss with an outline of your business idea. Live Lab is currently accepting associates on the strength of their application and their potential to match the current investors project criteria. The selections will also be based upon the aspiration, strength and suitability of the business proposals as well as evidence of commitment of the proposed Live Lab associates. Live Lab will normally annual agreements beginning in the summer semester, however we are currently open to discussion about other possible arrangements.

Rules & restrictions ...

Live Lab is a School of Architecture initiative. For this reason, each business proposal must include one MArchD graduating student. Applications from individuals, partnerships and design 'teams' of up to three members will be considered. The Live Lab Associate agreement lasts for 12 months and is subject to review every quarter. Successful Live Lab Associates may be offered an additional 12 months extended LLA agreement.


Live Lab Director
Harriet Harriss