Over twenty new Oxford technologies and ventures received a record £2.6m in proof-of-concept funding in 2014, the University’s technology commercialisation company, Isis Innovation, has reported.
The funding came from three seed funds, and boosted fifteen new companies. These include:
- stroke-diagnostics specialist Brainomix which successfully raised £1.2m and won awards and grants including Innovate UK, Horizon 2020 and an Academic Enterprise ICT Award
- OxBotica, which is at the forefront of robotics and autonomous systems;
- First Light Fusion, spun out with seed funding from IP Group, Parkwalk Advisors and angel investors, and developing a radical new approach for generating energy from fusion.
- Perspectum Diagnostics, developing scanning technology to detect cancer and pre-cancerous liver disease, and currently running trials in Edinburgh and Birmingham.
In November, seed fund investee and Isis Innovation spin-out Genomics Ltd raised £10.3 million from Invesco Perpetual, Lansdowne Partners, Woodford Investment Management and the Wylie Family Trust, as well as existing shareholders including IP Group and the University of Oxford. Genomics is developing an analytical platform for genomic sequence data analysis.
The University of Oxford Isis Fund II – an Enterprise Investment Scheme Fund managed by Parkwalk Advisors with Isis acting as Portfolio Advisor – is now fast approaching its target close. It follows on from the success of the University of Oxford Isis Fund I which raised and invested more than its target £1.25m in 2014.
“We have again seen huge interest from investors in the University of Oxford Isis Fund II, both because of the high quality pipeline of spin-outs from Oxford and of course the excellence of its research, reflected in the recent REF result,” said Parkwalk’s Moray Wright.
Andrea Alunni, Isis Innovation Seed Investment Manager said: “By all measures 2014 was an outstanding year in which we set up fifteen new companies: nine spinouts and six startups from our Isis Software Incubator.
“The biggest seed fund investments were in OxBotica, which is working at the forefront of robotics and autonomous systems, and our very exciting flexible display technology from the Department of Materials, with applications in ‘smart’ glasses, synthetic retinas, and foldable screens.
“And although spin-outs are the most visible of the years’ successes, a large portion of this seed funding has gone to technologies which will be taken forward by our licensees, existing companies, many of them local and leaders in their fields.”
Isis Innovation Executive Director Linda Naylor said: “An enormous amount of hard graft, skill and creativity goes into each successful technology, and each fledgling company. Being able to provide finance to propel new companies towards their goals and towards further investment is a critical part of Isis Innovation’s mission for the University of Oxford.
“Successes such as the acquisition of Isis spin-out NaturalMotion by Zynga for $527m have refreshed our seed funds. It’s also been great to see the groundswell of enthusiasm for UK technology from the investor community, and the confidence that early investments will pay off in the long term.”
Isis currently manages two seed funds on behalf of the University, the University Challenge Seed Fund and the Oxford Invention Fund, which is open to corporate and philanthropic donors. Parkwalk manage The University of Oxford Isis Funds, EIS Funds offering alumni, friends and supporters of the University the opportunity to invest in Oxford spin-outs in a tax efficient manner.