Across the country the number of spin-off companies founded on the back of University research has fallen to the lowest on record, but Oxford’s commercial arm remains stable.
ISIS innovation, the branch of Oxford University which works to protect and commercialise new research and inventions, brought £2.9 m to the University last year, up from £2.4m in 2008.
Many universities have seen the income from company creation based on research fall dramatically. Nationally, in the past few years, an average of 210 spin-off companies were created each year by universities on the back of leading academic research. This figure is predicted to have fallen to a mere 50 new companies created in 2009.
But ISIS Innovation has not faced such testing times.The number of spin-offs created by ISIS in 2009 remained stable at 3.
Of the three spin-offs, two were invested in by overseas clients. In the Daily Telegraph, Tom Hockaday, Managing Director of ISIS innovation, insisted that “there’s no shortage of money in the world. It’s just where it is. We got new investments from Hong Kong and the Middle East. It’s different and noteworthy and … a reflection of things locally.”
When asked by Cherwell if the lack of capital would pressure academics into hastily publishing findings in journals, he replied that it “is not a main motivation for researcher’s behaviours. University researchers are quite rightly focussed on their research and teaching activities; in the main commercialisation activities come a distant third in their priorities, and there is no harm in that.”
ISIS innovation was founded in 1997 and since then has negotiated, on average, one spin-off every two months. The combined value of these companies now stands at £2 billion.