Commercial property consultancy Bidwells has estimated that organisations within Oxfordshire’s Science & Tech community have raised more than £1 billion in funding to date during 2020. This is a record breaking figure and shows the true strength of the technology, R&D and life science ecosystem within the region.
It also demonstrates the importance of organisations such as Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI). In partnership with Oxford University, OSI ensures Oxford’s world-leading science moves out of the laboratory and onto the global stage. They match scientists with experienced entrepreneurs and patient capital to turn ideas to impact, discovery to company.
Bidwells cites the work that has been carried out in the hunt for a vaccine for Covid-19. Globally, more than 170 teams of researchers have contributed to this hunt and it is no accident that not one, but two, of the 50 vaccine candidates currently undertaking human trials originated from within OSI’s portfolio.
Prior to this pandemic, vaccine research has been notoriously underfunded. Much of it takes place in universities and relies solely on public funding. But OSI focus on solving the world’s toughest problems and believe in aiding preparedness for high consequence, low probability events.
Five years ago they provided the early stage investments for both Vaccitech, the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company and SpyBiotech, a company with a novel vaccine platform to target infectious diseases, cancer and chronic diseases. The platform technologies and research these companies leveraged prior to the pandemic, and continue to advance, were instrumental in readying both the Oxford and Serum teams to move at pace during the pandemic.
The work that these teams have undertaken has now given global recognition to Oxford for its world-class scientific capabilities.
From a real estate perspective, adds Bidwells, the challenge that is currently faced is providing the right type of space for these organisations to operate and grow. In order to try and overcome this challenge, OSI acquired the Sherard Building on Oxford Science Park last year specifically to meet the burgeoning demand for laboratory space from its portfolio companies.
Led by Bidwells’ commercial leasing and building project teams, the 30,000 sq ft building will be ready for CL2 laboratory installations alongside office/admin, to move in March 2021.
Priority for the space has been given first to the Oxford University spin-out companies within OSI’s portfolio, but OSI are also now inviting expressions of interest from other Science & Tech occupiers.