Jessica Leitch

I read Engineering Science at Teddy Hall and loved every moment. Coming from a comprehensive school background, I knew very little about the different colleges when I applied and chose the Hall quite simply because it had a female engineering tutor. It turned-out to be a good decision!

As well as my academic studies, I was an active member of the University cross country and triathlon clubs during my time at Oxford. I was awarded multiple Blues in both sports and named as Oxford University Sports Woman of the Year.

After finishing my undergraduate degree, I realised I could combine my engineering knowledge with my passion for running by working in the field of biomechanics! Under Professor Amy Zavatsky’s supervision, I completed a D.Phil. as part of the Life Sciences Interface Doctoral Training Centre (LSI DTC). My research investigated the biomechanics of running related injuries and I was based at The Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre.

3D gait analysis using infrared technology is the gold-standard of biomechanical assessment. By objectively measuring the way that a person moves, we can identify motion patterns that are risk-factors for injury and this is an important step for creating a successful treatment plan.  Whilst coming to the end of my D.Phil., I began to question why this technology was not accessible to ‘real’ runners. I was awarded Knowledge Transfer Funding (EPSRC KTS) to investigate the possibility of setting-up a private running gait analysis service at The Oxford Gait Lab. The project was successful and in 2011, Run3D was launched.

Shortly after this, I received investment to spin-out Run3D as a private company. Run3D Limited develops 3D gait analysis systems for treating and preventing running related injuries. We franchise the technology to Physiotherapists, Podiatrists and musculoskeletal specialists who use it treat their patients.

Becoming the Founder of an Oxford University spin-out company was totally unexpected. My journey to where I am today started because I passionately believed in the Run3D concept, had identified a business opportunity and wanted to make my vision a reality!

I met my now husband through the Oxford University Cross-Country Club and we now have two young children Daniel (3) and Emilia (1). We continue to run at a relatively high standard and both hold world-records for running marathons whilst pushing the children in a buggy!

I have recently won InnovateUK’s Women in Business Innovation award. We will use the funding to develop a new gait analysis platform to help older adults stay active and independent. The award will also provide the opportunity for me to be encourage and inspire women, using my story to demonstrate that it is possible to pursue a career in business innovation, raise a young family and pursue other interests.

My advice to current students would be to make the most of the amazing opportunities offered by the Hall and Oxford University. I’d also like to highlight that It is possible to achieve a First and participate in sport at University level, you just have to be very good at managing your time.