Oxford University start-up fund becomes largest in the UK

Cash injection increases Oxford Sciences Innovation budget to £580 million

Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI) is now the largest private university research fund in the UK after receiving a cash injection of £230 million.

The extra capital, which came mainly from Asia’s leading technology companies and European industrialists, expanded the firm’s budget to £580 million.

Other contributors include Invesco Asset Management Limited, IP Group plc, Lansdowne Partners (UK) LLP, Oxford University Endowment Management, the Wellcome Trust and Woodford Investment Management Limited.

OSI is a firm that provides capital and scaling expertise to businesses driven by intellectual property developed at the University of Oxford. Last year it backed a variety of science and technology start-ups including Oxford Flow, Oxford Nanoimaging, and Vaccitech.

The company went back to the market to raise funds having supported 20 start-ups over the last year, double its annual target.

Peter Davies, the chairperson of Oxford Sciences Innovation, said, “Raising this capital reflects our confidence in the breadth and quality of opportunity available to investors to help the University of Oxford develop a world-class commercial ecosystem around its unmatched intellectual capital and heritage.

“We are also very excited to be working with new shareholders from across the world, notably from Asia and continental Europe, and grateful to our original supporters, the 10 largest of which have participated in this funding round.”

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said, “We have long operated in a global marketplace, for students, academics and research funding, and know that we have to become altogether more creative in generating new sources of revenue.

“This is an extraordinary global vote of confidence in the quality and potential of the research conducted at Oxford. This initiative will bring benefits to the University, to the researchers, to the investors, and to society at large.”

“We are a cosmopolitan community of students and scholars. We welcomed our first international student in the 12th century, so it is part of our DNA. It should be no surprise, therefore, that we have attracted investment from all over the world.”

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However she also described “the disappointing investment by British industry in research and development” to BBC Business.

Although the UK plays host to five of the world’s top ten medical research institutions, investment by British industry in research is below the EU Average. Philip Hammond’s recent Autumn Statement pledged an extra £2 billion a year for UK research and development by 2020.