From a superfood based on seaweed to the application of machine learning to medicine, students at Somerville have ambitious plans to turn their research into enterprises that will benefit society.

The merit of their ideas has now won wider recognition after two Somerville teams made it through to the final ten of the All Innovate inter-college ideas competition, out of around a hundred entries from across the University of Oxford.

The two are SeaStrong, a social enterprise based around marine conservation and the harvesting of seaweed, and PCAid, who are developing an analytical tool to support in the diagnosis of complex medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

The SeaStrong team consists of Gabriella D’Cruz, Malak Al-Shaikhali, Isadora Oliveira, Julius Bright Ross, and Claire Cockcroft.

SeaStrong plans to enable female seaweed harvesters in India to create value-added products such as a seaweed-based food seasoning from the plants they harvest. The project aims to ensure that coral reefs are protected while supporting the livelihoods of coastal communities.

The PCAid team consists of Tianrong Yeo, Abi Yates, Fay Probert, Helen Ashdown and Daniel Anthony. The team will use machine learning – based on detailed clinical information from patients – to build sophisticated algorithms to more accurately diagnose complex diseases and reduce doctors’ biases.

Claire Cockcroft, Director of the Somerville Development Programme, which is supporting the start-up teams, said: “There was a real buzz at the Oxford Foundry on Saturday at the Bootcamp training session.

“The students really enjoyed their experience of sharing their ideas with mentors and getting tips from experts on public speaking skills to hone their pitching prowess.

“It was wonderful to hear that both our teams were selected for the pitching final on Thursday.

“Somerville’s entrepreneurial flag is flying high.”

Students and staff are welcome to cheer on our finalists at the Oxford Foundry on Thursday February 28, from 5:30pm.

Gabriella D’Cruz and Malak Al-Shaikhali from the SeaStrong team

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