As part of IDEA’s first round of bespoke projects, the programme has provided HEIF funding to MPLS Enterprise  to support a pilot programme for DPhil researchers in STEM subjects called SeedWISE. SeedWISE is an enterprise programme born out of the success and demand for MPLS’s flagship enterprise programme for women postdocs: RisingWISE. Aimed at women DPhil researchers, SeedWISE offers a unique space for Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and Technology and Mathematics (STEM) from Oxford DPhil cohorts to explore their enterprise skills, ambitions and connect with innovative professional women from Oxford and industry.

The programme believes that a great deal can be achieved by collaborative, action-based learning which prepares DPhil researchers for the opportunities and challenges of industry leadership.

The 7-week programme is being delivered mainly online and using a blended learning method chosen to fit in with researchers’ busy lives but also allowing the crucial opportunities for meeting up and interacting in real time and space to develop a peer support network.

The SeedWISE programme focuses on the following objectives:

  • To increase awareness of the variety of industrial and enterprise careers
  • To build self confidence in areas such as pitching, promoting and networking
  • To give opportunities to learn from women working in a variety of settings
  • To encourage an enterprising mindset irrespective of career destination
  • To meet, network and encourage other DPhil students

The programme launched on Monday 17th April, led by Dr Emma Williams, a STEM research developer and trainer, and co-author of ‘What Every Post-Doc Needs to Know’ aimed at helping early career researchers navigate their post-DPhil years and harness their professional skills.

The first session focused on providing the space for each participant to reflect on their needs for personal and professional growth, proactively preparing them to consider the various routes into industry and executive positions. Dr Williams took an action-based approach to learning, encouraging reflection on authentic leadership styles that serve the skillsets of DPhil researchers.

We covered a wide range of subjects which will be developed in more detail in later sessions, including:

  • Internships
  • Consultancy lifestyle
  • Tech start-ups
  • Work-life balance (and moving locations for jobs)
  • Working in male-dominant environments

SeedWISE supports participants in developing a clear action plan for career advancement and provides tailored support for advancing post-DPhil careers using reflective and action-based learning. The programme is not solely focused on entrepreneurship, but also on providing a range of professional insights which will support a range of careers in industry as well as those who want to continue in academia, but think about how their work could have commercial impact .

A current SeedWISE participant (2021 cohort) comments that: “I signed up for SeedWISE as it was a new programme promising an engaging, practical, and useful syllabus. I am half-way through the course, and it has certainly delivered! Working in small groups gives the class a personal feel, and we are encouraged to share experiences and provide feedback for others (which has helped me to hone my networking skills)”.

Oxford DPhil students are welcome to register interest for the September 2021 cohort of SeedWISE. Sessions will run on a weekly basis between Monday 20th September 2021 and Monday 8th November 2021 (with a one-week break in the last week of October). Please note these dates are currently provisional only. You can find out more on the dedicated SeedWISE page on the MPLS website. To register interest, please contact Louisa Carson at

SeedWISE is funded as part IDEA’s work to increase diversity in enterprising activities. Sign up to the IDEA Community to ensure you always receive the latest news, check out the IDEA Events pages to find out what’s on.

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