Oxford colleges give Pounds 10 million to spin-off firms

July 2, 1999

Oxford University colleges are to finance a Pounds 10 million fund for the support of spin-off firms, writes Kam Patel.

Tim Cook, managing director of the university's technology transfer arm, Isis Innovation, said the fund would be used to back Oxford spin-offs during the second stage of their development. The fund will complement financing for spin-offs at earlier stages of their development through mechanisms like the government's University Challenge Fund, which has already provided Oxford with Pounds 4 million.

Peter Johnson, deputy director of the Said Business School, said the fund is an indication of the increasingly systematic approach institutions are employing to make use of intellectual property generated by academics.

Dr Johnson, who will be speaking at an entrepreneurs' summit in London next week, said universities' interest in creating more spin-offs represents the "practical demonstration" arm of their strategies to become more entrepreneurial.

He said: "It is clear that over the long term the government is not prepared to provide the funds needed for research and infrastructure. Increasing the number of spin-offs, licensing intellectual property, forming joint venture companies or selling intellectual

property instead of giving it away are being seen as a means of generating new revenue streams."

According to Isis Innovation, Oxford has produced 18 spin-offs since 1959. Of these, seven have gone public and now boast a combined value of Pounds 1.5 billion. The university still holds stakes worth Pounds 40 million in five of these floated companies.

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