OSI’s capital base stood previously at £350m, but a fresh injection of capital will now boost this to almost £600m. Some of Asia’s leading technology companies and sovereign wealth funds, as well as European industrialists, are among the additional investors.
OSI provides capital and scaling expertise to businesses driven by intellectual property developed at the University of Oxford. The company’s mission is to build on the University’s position as one of the world’s leading research institutions, and further to enhance its track record for developing globally successful businesses.
Major corporate investors in OSI include Invesco Asset Management Limited, IP Group plc, Lansdowne Partners (UK) LLP, Oxford University Endowment Management, the Wellcome Trust and Woodford Investment Management Limited. Its individual investors include the entrepreneur Sir Charles Dunstone, and artificial intelligence pioneer Demis Hassabis of Google Deep Mind.
Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: ‘We have long operated in a global marketplace, for students, academics and research funding, and know that we have to become altogether more creative in generating new sources of revenue.
‘This is an extraordinary global vote of confidence in the quality and potential of the research conducted at Oxford. This initiative will bring benefits to the University, to the researchers, to the investors, and to society at large.
‘We are a cosmopolitan community of students and scholars. We welcomed our first international student in the 12th century, so it is part of our DNA. It should be no surprise, therefore, that we have attracted investment from all over the world.’
Chair of OSI, Peter Davies, said: ‘Raising this capital reflects our confidence in the breadth and quality of opportunity available to investors in helping the University of Oxford develop a world-class commercial ecosystem around its unmatched intellectual capital and heritage. We are also very excited to be working with new shareholders from across the world, notably from Asia and continental Europe, and grateful to our original supporters, the ten largest of which have participated in this funding round.’
Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, said: ‘This funding is a further vote of confidence in Britain’s world-class research sector and will provide a real boost to local businesses as they develop new technologies.
‘We want to maintain the UK’s position as a world leader in research, which is exactly why our upcoming industrial strategy will place science and innovation at its core, helping businesses across this burgeoning sector thrive.’
The formation of OSI in 2015 represented a determined attempt to overturn a trend acknowledged recently by the UK’s Prime Minister, Theresa May. In her latest speech to the Confederation of British Industry, Mrs May expressed concern at the UK’s longstanding failure to turn research into money-making ventures. The Prime Minister noted that Britain has more Nobel Laureates than any country outside the United States, but all too often great ideas developed here end up being commercialised elsewhere.