Oxford University Innovation Q3 2020 Update

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5th November 2020

Your quarterly review of activity from Oxford University Innovation.

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Featuring stories from across the company in its most challenging year on record, the OUI Annual Review is now available at https://annualreview2020.innovation.ox.ac.uk/

OUI Updates

OUI Headline Stats

Oxford University companies raised £38.8m during Q3 of 2020 over 17 deals. 

OUI launched 10 companies during Q3, including five spinouts, four social enterprises, and one startup.

Over Q3, Licencing & Ventures signed 76 deals, filed 35 new patents and received 34 new disclosures from Oxford University academics. Consulting Services signed 125 deals overall, deployed 118 consultants, and provided 97 clients with consultancy advice.

200th spinout & +$1bn

OUI has created Oxford’s 200th spinout, PhishAR. The company will use augmented reality to help individuals and organisations identify phishing attacks and prevent cybercrime.

In total, Oxford University companies have raised £880m (£24.6m of which was at seed stage) over the past financial year, smashing previous records. At over $1.1bn, the total raised in external fundraising eclipses the previous record in 2018 of £548m, which represented over a third of all UK spinout investment at the time.

250 companies

Alongside our 200th spinout, we’re happy to announce that OUI has now created 250 companies since we opened our doors back in 1987.

40 of these companies are startups which have been created in our incubator, including Onfido which is tipped to soon become a unicorn, while a further 8 are social enterprises.

Confused at the difference between spinouts, startups and social enterprises? So are we. More on that below.

The end of spinouts?

Ever wanted to know more about university innovation but instantly ran into a brick wall of niche terminology? We hear you. Beginning with this update, OUI will be dropping the distinction between startups (new companies), spinouts (companies with university IP), and social enterprises (ventures with a social mission at their core). While we will continue to capture these different entities for internal and reporting purposes, moving forward, OUI will simply be referring to the entities we create as “Oxford companies”. 


Nanopore’s COVID-19 test receives CE Mark


Oxsight helps man see fiancée clearly for first time

Oxsight, a company developing smart specs for the visually impaired, has helped a man see his wife to be for the first time ahead of their wedding.

Read more here


Bases loaded in acquisition home run

Base Genomics, a company only formed in June of this year, has been acquired by US-based diagnostics firm Exact Sciences.

Base had been developing a DNA methylation technology which could be used to identify early-stage cancer from a simple blood test. The company was built on research from Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.

The company was one of two acquisitions Exact Science made in the cancer space, the other being Thrive Earlier Detection Corp.

Read more here

SpyBiotech enters the vaccine race

SpyBiotech, an Oxford company developing a biomolecular superglue capable of quickly engineering therapeutics is entering the vaccine race for COVID-19.

The company is partnering the Serum Institute of India on its Virus-Like Particle-based vaccine, which has entered Phase I/II trials in Australia.

Spy’s technology allows the company to ‘superglue’ together virus-like particles capable of tackling disease, and is also looking at vaccines for cancer and other conditions.

Read more here

Brainomix wins award for NHS initiative

Stroke diagnostics firm Brainomix has won an Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award from Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

The award opens the door to Brainomix deploying its e-Stroke Suite at stroke centres across the UK.

“Today’s funding will ensure the NHS can continue to fast-track pioneering artificial intelligence to the frontline, freeing up clinicians’ time and saving lives,” said Hancock.

Read more here


Oxford Company Deals

Oxford Nanopore has secured £84.4m in new funding from new and existing investors, including International Holdings Company (IHC) and RPMI Railpen. 

No other spinout publicly reported deals in this period. 

Connecting with Oxford


– The Oxford Innovation Society will soon return with a virtual offering and will be focused on the theme of COVID-19. More details will be available shortly.

Enterprising Oxford’s Demo Day will take place on 18th November and will be held online. Details can be found here.

– Pro Vice Chancellor for Innovation Chas Bountra and Professor Sir Charles Godfray, Director of the Oxford Martin School, will discuss how the healthcare system has had to adapt due to the Covid-19 pandemic and what this means in the future. Takes place on Thursday 5 November, 5pm – 6pm, and you can register here.


– OUI is looking for a new Head of Life Sciences. Want to make an impact turning world-leading research into world-changing reality? Discover more here.

– Find more jobs at our companies here.


You can follow OUI for more news coming out of the Oxford Cluster by joining our communities on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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