Oxford’s entrepreneurs and innovators have never had it so good. For the first time, in over two decades, there is a wall of capital of over £1 billion available to fund great ideas and emerging businesses within the Oxford cluster.
According to Oxford Capital, over £1bn has been raised by investors active in the Oxford cluster in the past year, much of which is either allocated to or available for start-ups and high growth companies in the cluster. The investors - Oxford Capital, Oxford Sciences Innovations, IP Group, Woodford Investment Management, Parkwalk, Mercia, and OSEM - have together raised over £1bn in the past 12 months. Four of these firms increased their firepower by over £100m each during the period. Much of this capital is either managed locally, dedicated to backing new companies emerging from the research institutions or in part available to back the rising stars of the Oxford cluster.
This mass of new capital is set to fund a wave of investments in new and expanding technology businesses. This follows the recent success stories such as Circassia, Oxford Immunotec, Natural Motion and Arieso, whose combine valuations exceeded £1 billion following their acquisitions or listings in London and New York.
The quality of companies around Oxford emerging from the science parks, research centres and universities has been rising rapidly in recent years. A virtuous circle is developing as successful companies attract both talent and funding. As these companies grow in size and value, they foster new generations of ambitious entrepreneurs and innovators who in turn will launch the next generation of businesses. Companies such as Oxford Nanopore, Oxitec, Oxford Pharmascience and Oxford PV have already received significant funding and are emerging as leaders in their markets.
The Oxford cluster is best known for the strength of its life sciences sector, though other sectors have attracted substantial funding as well such as energy, software and advanced engineering. Increasingly, companies in the Oxford Cluster are attracting international capital from the US, Europe or Asia. Green Biologics, a specialty chemicals business is backed by the Swire Group, an Asian conglomerate, as well as venture capital investors Sofinova Ventures and Oxford Capital.
At Venturefest Oxford on 8 July 2015, we are hosting a debate bringing together leading investors in the cluster to explore how the Oxford cluster has attracted so much capital and how it will be deployed to create the next generation of technology stars.
Co-founder of Oxford Capital Partners. Husband, father, triathlete and polar marathon runner. Represent Great Britain at master level in Modern Pentathlon.