Professor Mark S Thompson, founder of OxVent

Photo of Mark S Thompson

Mark Thompson is an Associate Professor in Engineering Science at the University of Oxford and a Founding Director of OxVent. OxVent is a social venture with the object of making low cost ventilator technology available in Low Middle Income Countries in Covid19 and beyond. OxVent is nearing agreement on manufacture and distribution in Mexico and Latin America, employs 10 people and is about to launch a crowd funding campaign to raise £200,000.

What is your background? What made you decide to get involved in supporting entrepreneurs?

I’m a biomedical engineer, I’ve worked in universities and hospitals for nearly 20 years since my PhD and have only now become an entrepreneur. The decision was made for me, thanks to the utterly inspiring group of people who came together from Oxford and KCL during the first Covid19 wave in UK to address the UK Government’s Ventilator Challenge.

What is your definition of entrepreneurship?

Saying yes to the opportunity to make a change

How and when did you know your idea was good enough to develop it?
OxVent Logo

OxVent was at one stage a collaborative effort of nearly 80 people across two universities and a global med tech company. Our low cost rapidly manufacturable ventilator design met UK regulatory requirements and when it became clear the UK did not need emergency rapidly manufacturable ventilators we pivoted to address demand in Low Middle Income Countries.

What would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?

know what needs to be done
know who can best get it done
know how to motivate them to get it done

What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?

seeing a group of people develop and mature together as a new spin out organisation

What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?

Adam Grant, Work Life podcast

If you had 5 minutes with the above individual/ company/organization, what would you want to ask or discuss?

how social ventures can reshape the interface between universities and business

What has been your most satisfying or successful moment in business?


What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?

Steep learning curve for communications over Teams / Zoom.

How have you funded your ideas?

University Challenge Seed Fund and research grant funding so far.

Are there any sector-specific awards/grants/competitions that have helped you?

It has been challenging to identify appropriate funding sources. We are hugely grateful to Equity Spark for their kind assistance in setting up our forthcoming crowd funding campaign.

What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?

environment around Oxford hugely supportive

If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship resources, where would you send them?

OUI, Oxford Foundry

Any last words of advice?

timetable fresh air and exercise