Biotech firms surge ahead

March 21, 1997

OXFORDSHIRE's expanding biotechnology sector is heavily reliant on universities and other public research establishments, according to a report out today.

Twelve companies interviewed for the report by Oxford County Council and management consultants Oxford Innovations cited formal and informal research links with universities as the biggest local benefit.

Scientists from universities and public sector research establishment have made a significant contribution to the launch of nine out of the 12 companies and provided the initial technological capability for eight.

The report, which incorporates a broader high-tech study by Oxford University's Helen Lawton Smith, identifies 40 biotechnology companies and related organisations in the region.

The sector provides direct employment for 2,200 people and new firms are being formed at a rate of three to four a year.

David Kingham, managing director of Oxford Innovation and co-author, said the experience of Oxfordshire biotechnology firms suggested a "radically new approach" to local economic development and employment policy was needed, "rather than being expected to blindly follow national policy on economic development we should be playing more to our strengths".

Dr Kingham said encouraging growth would generate jobs. "We believe the biotechnology sector in Oxfordshire could be employing 6,000 people directly in ten years and up to 10,000 indirectly," he said.

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