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Promoting economic growth

Oxford sits at the western end of the Thames Valley high-tech cluster – the UK’s largest – which includes significant life sciences and research & development organisations. Our region is home to over 150 biotech companies including some of the UK’s most successful start-ups responsible for rapid growth, innovation and much of the new inward investment in biotechs. Oxfordshire businesses which have recently entered major partnerships with pharmaceutical companies include Immunocore, Adaptimmune, Oxford Cancer Biomarkers and Oxford Nanopore.

The Oxford Academic Health Science Centre is looking at new ways to create value in the biotech sector. We are attempting to create an environment where biotech companies can be physically adjacent to the large biomedical campus near all four partners in Headington.

Construction of the BioEscalator will be completed over the summer and occupancy by the first tranche of companies is expected in Sept. ‘18. A Management Board has been established and a Business Manager will be appointed. In 17/18 a collaboration with Barco NV was set up to support optimisation of processes across clinical pathways in oncology. The innovative Therapeutics for Ageing consortium (iTAc), which is a national public-private partnership to accelerate the discovery and development of therapeutics for ageing, started this year. The consortium will provide industry with a pipeline of novel clinically de-risked drug targets and assets, in a large and rapidly growing area of therapeutic need (age related morbidities). Expertise across 5 major complementary UK centres has been pooled to form the core of this initiative: The Francis Crick Institute, OxU (and partners Oxford AHSC, Oxford AHSN & Oxford BRC), University of Dundee, University of Birmingham and Birmingham Health Partners, and the Medicines Discovery Catapult. CCF funding with OxU (lead), Birmingham and Dundee – UK SPINE KE: is an award of £4.820m to support an open innovation approach across universities, NHS & business, to advance clinical research and medical innovation focused on improving health in old age. UK SPINE KE will also facilitate and form the core of a larger collaboration for therapeutic discovery for ageing. Theme 2 also supports the Sir David Cooksey Translational Research Fellowships. Fellows Dr Meinert (EM) and Dr Velthoven (MVV), are focusing on digital tools in healthcare and are working closely with OUH on a project to look at how the Internet of Things can/will impact on models of care. EM is working with ForwardApp who are creating medical messaging app and who won a local innovation competition. EM will support development and undertake a parallel evaluation study to look at barriers to adoption. MVV will assist through her work on regulation & standards as part of the translation pathway. MVV is also working with an international device company to test a wearable device for routine MEWS. The work of both will not only benefit patients and the companies themselves but will support the overarching aim of Theme two by identifying a more efficient route for collaboration with SMEs leading to clinical uptake.

Oxford also has a good track record for converting scientific discoveries into improved patient outcomes – for example, therapeutic interventions in cardiovascular disease – which bring with them economic benefits.

In 2017/2018 spin-out activity continues to be strong as set out below.

Year No of spin-outs   Total Raised
2014 5 NightstaRx, Genomics, Oxsonics, Deontics, OxSyBio £68M
2015 5 iOx, Xerion Healthcare, OxEML, Orbit Discovery, Oxford Endovascular £6M
2016 15 Zegami, Vaccitech, OMass, Oxstem, Oxford NanoImaging, EvOx, Argonaut, OcuLab, Oxford Impedance Diagnostics (+6) £47M


6 ProMAPP, Scenic Biotech, SpyBiotech, Ultromics, BreatheOx, Theolytics £13M
2018   Pepgen  


For more on this see Building NHS, university and industry relationships.

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