Our
story

Oxford Catalyst Ventures (now Openwell) was founded by Patrick McDonald in 2012 in order to release the full potential of solutions to some of the world’s most intractable problems – solutions that often fail to reach their full potential for a host of reasons: including lack of funding, wrong partners, poor systems and divided focus.

Openwell began to combine expertise from multiple sectors, bringing the ‘heart’ and ‘hands’ of charity and the ‘head’ of business and finance, and found a powerful combination to support organisations in their growth. Initial projects were to a range of small businesses and start-up charities and since those small beginnings, we now count multinationals, funds, philanthropic institutions, and major charities among our clients and friends.

Openwell is now a leading social innovation firm. Headquartered in Oxford UK, the Openwell team draws on the rich experience of scholars, corporate leaders and global policy makers orbiting the university and its affiliates.

Openwell is led by a group of former sector-relevant Chief Executives and Board Directors who recognised the world-changing impact of supporting institutions seeking to innovate and scale-up their impact. The team have between them incubated and scaled social, environmental and commercial ventures on five continents.

What’s in a name?
We changed our name to Openwell in May 2016.

There are at least 20 ancient wells in and around Oxford. These wells were places of community, trade, healing and life. So the name Openwell resonates deeply, both with the calling to unblock the wells of ideas that will change the world for the better, and also with our roots in the city of Oxford.