Oxford’s tech cluster has never quite enjoyed the same recognition as Cambridge’s Silicon Fen – indeed it’s not even got its own ‘Silicon…’ moniker (MT votes Silicon Spires). Cambridge’s success is largely predicated on innovative 'spin-outs' from its university, and now its bitterest rival has announced it’s raised some serious cash that could help substantially boost the city’s tech profile.
The University of Oxford and its commercial subsidiary Isis Innovation are partnering with a new company, Oxford Science Innovations, which will provide capital and support to help turn scientific innovations at the uni into successful companies. The venture is raising £300m, around two thirds of which has already been secured from six cornerstone investors, including Invesco Asset Management and Lansdowne Partners.
‘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,’ said OSI chairman David Norwood. ‘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.’
Spin-outs are a vital way of turning the money spent on research in Britain’s universities into gains for the economy. The institution with the best record is arguably Imperial College, but Cambridge's high-profile success in this regard, Oxford’s new initiative could well turn tech into the new Boat Race.