University of Oxford launches £300m partnership to boost world-class science and technology businesses

Oxford science investment

Oxford science investment - Credit: Archant

A new company, Oxford Sciences Innovation plc, will provide capital and scaling expertise to businesses driven by intellectual property (IP) developed in Oxford’s Mathematical, Physical, Life Sciences Division and Medical Sciences Divisions.

The partnership builds on the University’s position as one of the world’s leading research institutions and its track record for developing globally successful businesses

This landmark agreement is long term and exclusive to the University, with a core ambition to bring the very best of the University’s scientific research to the market

University of Oxford and Isis Innovation, the University’s technology commercialisation subsidiary has launched a partnership with the newly created Oxford Sciences Innovation plc (OSI) to develop the University’s world-leading scientific research and work with Oxford University’s academics to commercialise their ideas into market-leading companies.

OSI has been established as the University’s preferred partner for the provision of capital for spinout companies. This will include establishing new IP-driven businesses together with Isis Innovation and providing investment capital, as well as advice.

Oxford University was ranked number one for the quality of its research in the UK’s recent Research Excellence Framework and is consistently ranked among the top three universities in the world. The two science divisions are supported by a total research spend of over £400m annually.

Isis has established over 100 spinout companies based on technology developed by University of Oxford researchers since 2000, including eight in the last year. Spinouts valued in excess of £200m include Oxford Nanopore Technologies Limited and NaturalMotion. Others include AIM and Nasdaq listed companies such as Velocys and Oxford Immunotec respectively.

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OSI will raise an initial £300m, with £210m already committed by six cornerstone investors: Invesco Asset Management Limited, IP Group plc, Lansdowne Partners (UK) LLP, Oxford University Endowment Fund, the Wellcome Trust and Woodford Investment Management LLP. Credit Suisse is acting as the sole placement agent.

OSI will be chaired by David Norwood, the founder of IP Group plc, the intellectual property business behind the commercialisation of Oxford Nanopore, a technology company developing innovative systems for analysis of single molecules, including DNA, RNA and proteins.

David said: “The University of Oxford has been the birthplace of some of the best science in the world and some of the biggest ideas in history. The agreement with OSI and the strength of the cornerstone investors create a fantastic opportunity to turn world-leading science into market-leading companies and the opportunity to create significant value for all stakeholders.”

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Professor Andrew Hamilton, said: “Oxford University is a long-established engine of global economic growth. Spinouts based on our research have an impressive track record of generating innovative breakthroughs and new employment regionally, nationally and internationally.

“Oxford Sciences Innovation is an exciting new development which will significantly expand the funding and commercial expertise available to our research teams.”

Tom Hockaday, CEO of Isis Innovation, said: “This landmark investment is a vote of confidence in the extraordinary potential of Oxford technologies. It builds on the strong foundation laid over the last 20 years of successful spinouts formed through Isis Innovation which have provided excellent returns to investors.

“We have already started discussing the first investments with OSI, who are working in an inclusive manner with our existing investor community, recognising the importance of all those involved in supporting the Oxford innovation ecosystem.”