Over the last 35 years, we have expanded far beyond our original home in Oxfordshire and now operate in 46 counties of the UK, with over 250 people providing space, advice and finance to entrepreneurs and innovators in places where we can help localities to thrive.
Oxford Innovation, while retaining its core mission of supporting enterprise, particularly of science-based innovation, continues to evolve with the needs of its marketplace and that of its clients. The most recent examples of this include our operation of two new shared laboratory facilities, one in Cambridgeshire and one in Oxford, both aimed at serving life science innovation; our delivery of mentoring and supply chain programmes in 6 counties as part of the government Covid response; our raising of an EIS Growth Fund allowing investors a diversified investment into promising technology companies; and our development of one of the finest suites of on-line business diagnostic tools for SMEs in the UK.
Oxford Innovation’s mission is as relevant today as ever and we continue to innovate in fulfilling our mission of helping the next generation of entrepreneurs to take their ideas to market and their businesses from start to commercial success.
Oxford Innovation Finance raises an EIS fund from its angel investor community with the objective of investing in a diversified group of high potential EIS eligible industry disrupting businesses. The fund is successfully invested in 9 high growth potential businesses, 7 of which have direct impact on UN sustainable development goals.
A continuation of the long relationship between Oxford Innovation and the University of Oxford reaches another milestone with the merger of both organisations' angel investor networks. This creates an exceptionally large pool of experienced investors able to advise, mentor and invest in the tech-rich innovative businesses that emerge from the Oxfordshire, Thames Valley and London eco-systems.
Oxford Innovation Advice started to deliver the Manufacturing Growth Programme, funded by the Dept of Housing, Communities and Local Government and European Regional Development Fund, which assists over 1,400 SME manufacturers annually, making it the largest programme of support to SME manufacturers in the UK.
Oxford Innovation Advice was appointed by Innovate UK to deliver its programme to encourage successful innovation in the UK and assist small businesses to collaborate with SMEs from other, particularly European, countries. Later in 2016, Oxford Innovation was selected to operate a programme to help SMEs in Cornwall to access finance for their growth. This Financial Readiness Programme has been a market leader in its field and has raised over £39m in funding for Cornish businesses. It has also helped to create some great new companies, including Wildanet, a pioneering start up providing wireless broadband services.
Oxford Innovation was selected to manage the University of West England’s innovation centre, Future Space, on its campus in Bristol, the first university enterprise zone in the UK. This centre, curates tech-rich businesses and is co-located with the university’s robotics and public health research faculties and a fully equipped shared wet laboratory facility.
Oxford Innovation was appointed as one of the members of the consortium selected to deliver the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills’ Growth Accelerator Programme, the largest single programme of business support to SMEs in the UK. At this point, a separate division was created, today called Oxford Innovation Advice, to deliver its part of this programme.
In our first hub for entrepreneurs in an area of undergoing change in the south of England, Oxford Innovation partnered with Portsmouth City Council to develop and manage Portsmouth Technopole on land just off the M275 at the gateway to the City. Part funded by the Governments Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) through SEEDA, some of the early interventions included many community events to encourage young people into entrepreneurship and a Festival of Innovation to showcase activity from across the city.
In 2000 and 2001 respectively, Oxford Innovation opened centres at Harwell and Culham in collaboration with UKAEA to commercialise research linked to fusion, nuclear and energy. The 2 centres have capacity for over 60 companies who benefited from a specially designed Technical Support Package linked to the Fusion Business team. Some of the notable companies to take up this support have included Reaction Engines, Toumaz Technology and Kaspersky Labs.
Oxford Innovation embarked on operating Oxfordshire’s angel investment network, called OION by all who know it (and which stands for Oxford Investment Opportunity Network). Now named Oxford Innovation Finance, it has for 26 years been bringing investors and experienced mentors, advisors and investors to the support of exciting high growth businesses seeking finance.
Sir Martin and Lady Audrey’s experience of the challenges of starting a business led them to found Oxford Innovation with a mission to support the scientific entrepreneurs of Oxfordshire by providing the assistance and services those entrepreneurs need to turn their ideas and discoveries into businesses. The first incarnation of Oxford Innovation was two portacabins on Osney Mead, Oxford.
Oxford Instruments Plc, founded founded by the late Sir Martin Wood and Lady Audrey Wood, the first and still one of the most successful commercial spin outs from Oxford University, started in Martin and Audrey’s garden shed and culminated in the development of the first fully functioning MRI for medical use.