Launch of £300 million Science Innovation Fund


Oxford University’s commercial arm has set up a £300 million fund to develop and bring to market companies  based on the University’s scientific research.

On 14 May, Oxford University and Isis Innovation (the University’s technology commercialisation subsidiary) announced the launch of a £300 million partnership to boost the development of science and technology business. Oxford aims to be a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship, building on its position as a world-leading centre of learning teaching and research.

The University is partnering with the newly created Oxford Sciences Innovation plc (OSI) to develop the University’s world-leading scientific research and work with academics to commercialise their ideas into market-leading companies.

OSI has been contractually established as the University’s preferred partner for the provision of capital for spinout companies based on research from the Mathematical, Physical, Life Sciences (MPLS) and Medical Sciences divisions.

This will include establishing new IP-driven businesses together with Isis and providing investment capital, as well as advice. OSI will, for the minimum of 15 years, be the contractually preferred partner of the University and Isis. OSI will have the right to acquire 50 per cent of the University’s founder equity acquired in each spin-out company, while the University will retain a protected 5 per cent equity stake in OSI.

The Board of OSI is chaired by David Norwood, who has had a long career building a number of science, technology and investment companies. Norwood gave praises of the new project, saying: “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 will create a fantastic opportunity, to turn world-leading science into market-leading companies and the opportunity to create significant value for all stakeholders.”

£210 million out of the proposed £300 million final fund has already been provided courtesy of Invest Asset Management Limited, IP Group, Landsowne Partners (UK), Oxford University Endowment Fund, the Wellcome Trust, and Woodford Investment Management.

This comes eight months after Dark Blue Labs and Vision Factory, two machine-learning and computer vision companies, were acquired by Google after spinning out from the University.

Since 2000, Isis has helped set up more than 100 commercial companies based on research and technology from the University. Oxford Nanopore Technologies and NaturalMotion both are valued at more than £200 million.

Oxford University  is currently ranked number one for the quality of its research in the recent Research Excellent Framework. The two science divisions are supported by a total research spend of over £400 million annually.

The agreement with OSI provides an additional service for members of the University who are looking to spin-out a company. The preferred route for the commercialisation of University-owned intellectual property remains an Isis Innovation.

Photo/YANA Motors

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