Oxford University Innovation cuts equity stake requirement for start-ups

OX uni Innovation

Oxford University Innovation Incubator relaunches with new startup offer

The Oxford University Innovation (OUI) Incubator has relaunched with a new deal on equity and access to finance for Oxford University startups, after an extensive overhaul and refurbishment under its new manager, Catherine Spence.

The incubator, which has created 30 companies since launching in 2011 including verification and background check platform Onfido, has reduced the equity stake it asks from potential portfolio startups by half down to 5%. In addition, the incubator has collaborated with early-stage investors to create a programme to provide robust and constructive early stage feedback as well as back startups with the initial cash they need to get wheels turning, called OUI Future Fusion.

Future Fusion is a two-stage programme. First, prospective startups will receive support and guidance from OUI staff and the investor panel to develop their idea over a three-month period to pitch readiness. The second stage will involve a pitch to the investor panel for funding and continued support to take the idea to a fully fleshed out startup ready to stand on its own feet.

Investors involved with Future Fusion are:

  • Veteran university innovation investors IP Group
  • Early stage tech investor Bloc Ventures
  • Long running Oxford-based SEIS and EIS investor Oxford Technology
  • Oxford Innovation Consultants, managed by OUI’s former equity portfolio manager James Mallinson.

Two overseas investors are also involved with the panel.

The revamped incubator offer comes on the back of the launch of the Bright Sparks programme, a collaboration with Vodafone to connect Oxford startups with mentorship from the mobile network giant. The University has also recently made changes to its statutes on student IP in an effort to boost and support student entrepreneurship. Under the new changes, students will retain full ownership of their intellectual property, except for circumstances made clear in the new statutes, such as corporate sponsorship of research.

Cath Spence, Incubator Manager at OUI, said:

“This refresh of the OUI Incubator has already proven to be a hit with students around Oxford. We’ve received well over 100 enquiries for new projects in the incubator since we made the change on equity, and we’re only just formally announcing it! Oxford staff and students have consistently provided a rich vein of innovative ideas, and we look forward to helping them turn those ideas into cutting-edge startups in the months and years ahead.”