Working with Industry

Department of Chemistry University of Oxford

The Department of Chemistry has an unrivalled track record in protecting and commercialising the innovative work of research staff. Oxford Chemistry has contributed over £80 million to the University as a result of its spin-out activities. Actual realized gains from the departmental spin-outs come to more than £40 million, with about £20 million of unrealized gains in quoted companies, and a further batch of holdings in private companies.

The realized return came from the successes of Oxford Molecular and Oxford Asymmetry International, both of which had successful initial public offerings, floating on the London Stock Exchange, and later sold. In addition a novel partnership with IP Group Plc (formerly Beeson Gregory) produced £20 million towards financing the new £60 million Chemistry Research Laboratory opened by HM The Queen in 2004.

The IP Group Plc partnership was described by the Financial Times as ‘the way universities should be financed in the future’.

In return for an upfront sum the bank receives half of the University equity in Chemistry spin-outs for 15 years. The equity in spin-outs is typically held by the founding academics, the University (with half of the University's share going to IP Group plc), investors and management. Once the company is created the interests of the bank and the University are identical, but the Department also benefits from help from IP Group in preparing business plans and raising funding.

Already in the short history of the deal twelve new companies have been created: InhiboxPharminox; Zyentia; Glycoform; REOX; Vastox - now Summit plcOxford Medical Diagnostics;Oxford Nanopore Technologies (Formerly Oxford Nanolabs Ltd); Velocys (Formerly Oxford Catalysts); Oxford Advanced Surfaces, Oxford Biotrans and OxTox. Several of them have had second round funding, and Vastox and Oxford Catalysts had successful IPOs on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) with a combined market capitalization of over £100 million.

Oxford University Innovation staff help those researchers who wish to commercialise the results of their research, by protecting intellectual property and by licensing, spin-out company formation, consultancy contracts, service contracts and materials sales. They are happy to meet with anyone interested in finding out more about commercialisation and intellectual property. Academic researchers are encouraged to contact them early with ideas that may have commercial potential.

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Oxford chemists have set up numerous commercial licences and spin-out companies to take promising technologies to market, often with the help of Oxford University Innovation, the University’s technology transfer company. Millions of pounds has been raised for the University as a result of spin-out activities from research carried out by Oxford chemists.

This success has been made possible in part through a partnership with IP2IPO, a company specialising in the commercialisation of university intellectual property rights. In return for an upfront sum which part-financed the new Chemistry Research Laboratory building, IP2IPO receives half of the University equity in Chemistry spin-outs for 15 years. Some of the Department of Chemistry’s established and up-and-coming companies are highlighted below, many set up with the help of IP2IPO funding.

Between 2008 and 2013, the support from Oxford University Innovation and IP2IPO enabled Oxford Chemistry to achieve 253 patent applications filed, with 201 granted; 30 technology licences executed leading to commercialisation; and 15 examples of sales of advanced materials and novel reagents.

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