Business & Innovation Magazine

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 23 Nov, 2017
Hazlewoods take a look at the Chancellor’s first Autumn Budget. The gloomy downgrading of the UK’s growth forecasts was offset, during his speech, by some positive announcements about increased spending for education, housing, the NHS and to improve productivity. However, with a distinct lack of tax raising measures, you have to question where the money is going to come from.

On top of the £3.5 billion previously scheduled increase in funding for the NHS, Mr Hammond announced an additional, exceptional £2.8 billion with £350 million available immediately to help improve A&E waiting times.

In an attempt to assist the next generation with the new digital economy, investment is to be made into education or, more specifically, into maths. Schools and colleges, who support their students to study Maths, will be rewarded by giving them £600 for every extra pupil who decides to take Maths or Further Maths A Levels, or Core Maths.

It was widely predicted that housing would be at the heart of this Budget and the Chancellor didn’t disappoint, with wide ranging plans aimed at achieving 300,000 new homes per year, but only by the mid 2020s.

One of his major tax announcements also related to the housing market, where first time buyers of houses worth up to £300,000 will be exempt from Stamp Duty Land Tax. Those acquiring higher valued properties of up to £500,000 will receive a nil rate band on the first £300,000, the aim being to assist 95% of first time buyers and help turn their dreams of home ownership into a reality.

The Chancellor announced that there is to be an increase in the tax free personal allowance in 2018/19 to £11,850 and for the higher rate band to £46,350.

Companies took a hit with the announcement that ‘indexation allowance’ will be frozen from 1 January 2018, meaning companies will no longer benefit from relief for inflationary rises when selling chargeable assets, which individuals lost back in 2008.

There was relief that the VAT threshold was not reduced, as had been talked about in advance of the Budget, although the registration threshold of £85,000 is to be frozen for the next two years.

It is perhaps of no surprise that there were no controversial measures announced from the Chancellor of a minority Government. The last thing they need at the moment is a Finance Bill that is not passed by the House.

It remains to be seen as to whether the measures announced appeal to the youth that appear to have deserted the Conservatives in droves. Regardless, the Government appears to be committed to giving them every opportunity of watching the next election from their own home.

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 21 Nov, 2017
The Institute of Physics (IOP) has recognised Oxford Space Systems as part of its 2017 Business Innovation Awards for the development of the AstroTube Space Boom.

The IOP’s Commended Innovations are awarded to businesses for outstanding innovative applications of physics, which either push technological boundaries or provide bespoke solutions to market challenges. The award is in recognition of the development of the AstroTube Boom, which addresses the challenges of mass, cost and stowage efficiency of deployable satellite boom systems, using a combination of advanced materials and a new, proprietary physics-based software tool.

The advanced proprietary materials developed include carbon-fibre-based materials that are thin enough to be rolled and stowed in a compact form, yet become fully rigid when deployed into their final configuration. Using these advanced materials, together with origami, allows for class-leading stowage efficiency and complexity reduction, meaning that deployable structures can be stowed more efficiently than ever before. This translates into significant savings in terms of launch cost due to the reduced volume and mass of the satellite.

The award was presented to the company at a parliamentary reception at Westminster, attended by MPs, Lords, policy makers, business leaders and leading physicists in the field.

President of the IOP Professor Dame Julia Higgins, offered her congratulations to the winners, and commended them on their fantastic achievements. “This year’s winners serve as tremendous examples of the many different ways in which physics can improve, save or protect lives and how it forms an invaluable part of the UK economy. “Your successes have been made possible by investing in physics and in physicists. To continue to build on those successes, it is essential that public and private sector investors continue to invest in physics education, research and innovation. “I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to all of this year’s winners. Companies such as these are the backbone of a high-tech economy and society.”

Mike Lawton, CEO at Oxford Space Systems, said of receiving the award: “This represents a fantastic stamp of recognition from the IOP on the record-breaking achievements of the OSS team and what the UK space industry is capable of.”

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 21 Nov, 2017
Nightstar Therapeutics, an Oxford University spinout developing genetic treatments for rare retinal diseases, has expanded its pipeline to include Stargardt disease with an exclusive global licence provided by Oxford University Innovation.

Stargardt is the most common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration. Affecting one in every 10,000 births, the disease usually begins to manifest during a patient’s teenage years, but can start as early as six years of age. While the prognosis for the condition varies from patient to patient, most will end up being declared legally blind during their lifetime. At present, there is no treatment for the disease.

The deal comes on the back of Nightstar’s flotation on the NASDAQ in September, where it raised $75m. The company spun out from Oxford University in 2013 and exited within four years – a rapid turnaround for a university spinout.

Dr Paul Ashley, Head of Technology Transfer (Life Sciences), Oxford University Innovation, said: “Partnering with Nightstar on an additional Oxford gene therapy programme provides the opportunity to continue the close and productive relationship between the company and Oxford University Innovation, enabling the technology to have the very best chance of success. It is particularly pleasing to see the continued growth of the company, now seen as a world leader in developing therapies towards real clinical benefit in patients suffering from debilitating retinal diseases.”

Oxford University Innovation (OUI) supports innovation activities across all divisions of the University of Oxford, managing technology transfer and consulting activities, and providing an innovation management service to clients around the world. OUI provides access to technology from Oxford researchers through intellectual property licensing, spinout company formation and material sales, and to academic expertise through its Consulting Services team. The New Venture Support & Funding team of OUI supports investors or donors with an interest in early-stage ventures, and manages the Oxford Angels Network. OUI’s Startup Incubator supports members and ex-members of the University who wish to start or grow entrepreneur-driven ventures that are not University spinouts.

The full release is available on Nightstar’s website, and can be found here .
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 21 Nov, 2017
Bounce Video, which is run by former BBC Producer/Director, Grace Gibbons is working in partnership with the local college of further education to offer film production experience to students aged 16-18 from the college’s Digital Media Pathways BTEC course.

Students will also be offered training in CV and cover letter writing skills and advice on how to seek work in the industry.

17-year-old student Imogen Taberner is half way though her 30-hour placement with the company and has attended two shoots at Exeter College and Oxford science innovation company, SpyBiotech.

Imogen said: “I’ve learnt about setting up equipment and lighting and the importance of blocking out background noise in interviews. My favourite part so far was when I got to see a professional drone operator at work. It was really new to me and quite exciting. I was also given a camera and asked to take production photos.

Grace Gibbons from Bounce Video said: “I’ve been really impressed by how Imogen has applied herself, it’s been a pleasure to support someone entering the industry.

Media and TV work experience opportunities are hard to find, and often it’s about having a personal contact. When I was 17, I was lucky enough to get work experience at Channel 4 through a friend, it was a huge stepping stone, which helped me get onto a leading Broadcasting degree programme.”

Iain Landles, Director of Career Pathways, Creative Arts at The City of Oxford College said: “The opportunity for our students to work with a professional company has been outstanding. Bounce Video is one of those rare companies that works at the cutting edge of the film industry, but also wants to train and help the next generation. City of Oxford College is very fortunate to have such a partner.”
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 21 Nov, 2017
UK manufacturing and materials has received an £18.4 million boost from the Government.

130 organisations representing 63 projects will get funding through Innovate UK’s regular competition in this industry sector, which has just completed its third round.

These projects are primarily led by small and medium-sized enterprises. Examples of the projects funded include:

Companies benefitting from across the region include Oxford Plastic Systems Ltd, Wallingford-based TTI Testing Ltd, GE Aviation Systems of Cheltenham, Safran Landing Systems of Gloucester and Didcot-based Diamond Light Source.

Other companies securing funding include Malvern Cosmeceutics Ltd and Horiba Mira Ltd of Nuneaton, Coventry.

Simon Edmonds, Director of Manufacturing and Materials, Innovate UK, said: “The quality and scope of these projects is outstanding. It highlights the appetite of UK manufacturing and materials companies across the country to innovate and grow.”

Science Minister, Jo Johnson, added: “These successful projects showcase how companies of all sizes can utilise the UK’s research and innovation expertise to improve their operations and competitiveness, boosting the UK economy and our global standing as a centre of excellence.”
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 21 Nov, 2017
Oxford and Reading are the UK’s top cities, PwC’s Good Growth for Cities index 2017 – with Southampton now in third place.

Oxford and Reading, followed by Southampton are the three top performing cities in the UK as the South-East continues to lead the latest Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities index.

For the second year running, the two highest performing UK cities are Oxford and Reading, with Oxford maintaining its narrow lead at the top. The most recent results also show a continuing gap between these two cities and the rest of the index. This reflects continued improvement across a range of measures in each of these cities, particularly jobs, income and skills.

John Ellis, office senior partner for PwC in Reading, commented: “It’s great that Reading is one of the highest performing UK cities for the second year running.

“The growth story for the South East is compelling given the high GVA and attractiveness of the region to business. Reading and the Thames Valley form a key part of that growth agenda with further steady expansion expected, thanks to continued investment and improved transport links like Crossrail further opening up the region.

“Reading at the top of this year’s index reflects continued improvement across a range of measures, including jobs, income, skills and achieving the highest health score in the index.”

Published at the beginning of November, the sixth annual Good Growth for Cities 2017 index sets out to show that there’s more to life, work and general well-being than GDP. The index measures the performance of 42 of the UK’s largest cities, England’s Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and the nine Combined Authorities against a basket of ten indicators based on the views of the public as to what is key to economic success and wellbeing.

These include employment, health, income and skills – the most important factors, as judged by the public – while housing affordability, commuting times, environmental factors and income inequality are also included, as is the number of new business starts.

The presence of both Oxford and Reading at the top of this year’s index reflects continued improvement across a range of measures, including jobs, income and skills. Both cities also perform strongly on our measures of new business and health. To read the full report, please click here .

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 02 Nov, 2017
Oxford Nanopore has designed and manufactures the world’s first hand-held, real-time DNA sequencer. It could transform diagnosis speeds, potentially saving millions of lives

By Nicky Godding

The same year that London secured the Olympics, 2005, Oxford Nanopore was founded. This company could also be a global winner, this time in the field of technology and life sciences.

Oxford Nanopore is a UK technology company valued in excess of £1 billion. From its Oxford Science Park base it has designed the world’s only hand-held electronic sequencer which can access DNA information in real time. The company has a rich development pipeline, including a mobile-phone compatible DNA sequencing device.

The 2012 Olympics were a triumph for Great Britain, largely because they were preceded by seven years of planning, investment and strong management the like of which this country seldom sees - in sport or business. We were rewarded with an incredible haul of medals, and the UK’s sporting achievements bestrode the globe like a colossus.

Like the London Olympics, this country must be prepared to back winners, says Oxford Nanopore CEO, Dr Gordon Sanghera. Academic excellence in the UK is better than anywhere else in the world, he says. Per capita per dollar we punch way above our weight.

His company’s technology could also be a winner. This really is disruptive technology, and here’s why.

Out of the 100,000 biological research labs in the world, around 12,500 have a traditional ‘mainframe-like’ DNA sequencer which can take days to produce a dataset that needs interrogation.

Oxford Nanopore has designed instruments to deliver direct DNA analysis in real time, which existing equipment does not. But what’s really exciting is Oxford Nanopore’s development of unique electronic hand-held devices.

Imagine being able to diagnose contagious illnesses immediately. Vicious pandemics such as Ebola, SARS or Avian Flu could be contained quicker if medics didn’t have to wait days for lab diagnosis.

Crops could be scanned for blight early and resistant varieties planted, potentially staving off famines in vulnerable countries.
Real-time surveillance could stop food recalls from supermarket shelves, real-time water quality surveillance could immediately identify bugs such as cryptosporidium, to stop the spread.

A mobile DNA sequencer could negate a trip to the local surgery. In future, and with sufficient technology and health system development, a simple swab analysis using Oxford Nanopore’s hand-held sequencer could help confirm that a sick child simply has a regular vomiting bug sweeping the community, rather than something more serious. We will soon be able to access much more information about ourselves to aid healthier lifestyles.

A career in bio technology

Gordon Sanghera’s career has been spent coupling biology with technology. He joined Oxford University spin-out company, Medisense, in Witney in the 1980s. Professor Allen Hill had developed a bio-electronic device for the electronic measurement of blood glucose, and Medisense was commercialising the product.

Gordon rose to Head of Research. The company floated on the Nasdaq in 1994 and was bought by Abbott Laboratories for around $900 million in 1996. He spent five years with Abbott in the USA, first in sales and marketing, then in mergers and acquisitions, returning to Witney in 2000, where he helped to build the factory’s continuous reel to reel manufacturing process which today produces around one billion glucose sensors per annum.

By early 2003, and with Abbott Laboratories’ golden handcuffs of a final salary pension looming, Gordon began hankering for one more big adventure, to apply everything he’d learned and build a UK company with global potential.

He tapped up Oxford University contacts (back then there were no technology transfer companies). He also contacted a company called IP to IPO (Now IP group), which had invested £20 million into Oxford chemistry R&D, and met Spike Willcocks. Spike was a PhD graduate who translated academic science into something investors would understand.

Over lunch at the Chiang Mai Kitchen on Oxford High Street, Gordon and Spike trawled through a list of projects. One was to become Oxford Nanopore. “With my bioelectronics background, I could see similarities between that and the way we manufactured the Medisense platform,” said Gordon.

Spike (now Chief Business Development Officer at Oxford Nanopore), helped Gordon write an eight-slide presentation for the bank on why this sensing platform was different and what the prototype would look like. It took just 45 minutes for the Board to grant half a million pounds’ seed funding.

From the outset, Gordon was determined not to make the same mistakes he felt his previous company had made. “Medisense never really achieved more than 10% market penetration. We had to invest in IP to safeguard the nanopore field.”

In a bold move, Gordon raised enough capital to sign collaborations with academic groups across the world focused on similar technologies. This covered broad nanopore sensing technology including future ‘solid-state’ nanopores. “We signed up Harvard and Boston Universities, Texas A&M, Santa Cruz California and Massachusetts.” The company had turned future competitors into collaborators.

“We wanted to achieve the commercial availability of nanopore products to do amazing things, and the best way was to future-proof the company by funding academics for the development of the platform itself, and for its next generation.”

Gordon wanted to establish high-volume manufacturing from the start. “We knew we had a fantastic product, which could be deployed in a number of ways.” After much debate, the company settled on DNA sequencing, which offered the widest range of commercial opportunities.

A decade of development

It took nearly ten years to deliver the first product, but Oxford Nanopore has been fortunate in its investors. “We were honest about how long it would take, explaining that it’s challenging and difficult, but with high risk comes high reward.” So far, over £350 million has been raised in a stepped approach and the company is now at a tipping point.

“Like the Olympics, our ambition has always been about moving on to the next level,” says Gordon.

“I sometimes think of the company as a beast in a big pit, which we are feeding raw innovation. The more we feed it, the louder it roars. When we get the biggest beast fully out there it’s going to run riot – for the good. And that’s going to be next year.”

R&D must remain close to manufacturing

Oxford Nanopore manufactures at the Rutherford Appleton laboratory at Didcot, close to its Oxford Science Park R&D hub. And this proximity is critical, according to Gordon.

“I was lucky to be asked for my opinion to help shape some of the debate on the UK’s industrial strategy. How can Oxford Nanopore go from 350 employees to 3,500 people, and how can Government help make that happen? The knee jerk reaction is to manufacture where labour is cheap, but we’re proving that’s not the case.”

“We have a team of 40 at Didcot and we will be scaling up. R&D must remain close to manufacturing because we are coupling high-end electronics to the most exquisite single molecule biology. Innovation happens close to where the knowledge is and solving any problems in the manufacturing process helps to catalyse more innovation.”

Jeremy Bryar is Oxford Nanopore’s Director of Continuous Improvement at Rutherford Appleton. He said: “Working for the only company in existence which makes what we do, gives us a massive sense of pride, and the vision the company has regarding the DNA world is quite remarkable. We have a formidable team with the same goals: to build a top-quality product that will become a world leader in its field.

It might seem that the sale of Medisense – a company born in the UK, for $900 million in 1996 was a good deal. But Abbott Laboratories now has a market capitalisation of $76 billion. Gordon isn’t alone in thinking this is less a success, than a UK failure to nurture and retain global companies. His view is held by others, including UK biotech entrepreneur Sir Christopher Evans. The issue, they say, is often a lack of UK investment.

“If you have the right money and backing, you can build a global technology company – and that’s what we’re doing,” says Gordon. “That’s not to say that strategic relationships might not be important, or that an IPO is out of the question, but we are not in a dash for cash.

“We have the London capital markets, which are exceptional, and British academia which is phenomenal. Bring them together and you get successful spin out companies,” he said.

Sir Christopher Evans added: “Many UK companies establish a base in the USA because it’s easier to raise capital there, but Britain has the best scientists in the world. Our investors must be bolder to keep our companies here.”
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 30 Oct, 2017
More than 4,600 homes and businesses in West Oxfordshire will be connected to ultrafast full fibre broadband by the end of 2019 thanks to a major new contract worth more than £8m.

The contract will see West Oxfordshire District Council and the Government’s broadband agency BDUK invest £3.1m between them with rural broadband specialist Gigaclear adding a further £5m.

The fibre-to-the-premises technology will offer ultrafast broadband to those who have previously struggled to obtain even basic connectivity. It will enable speeds of up to 1,000Mbps (1Gps).

Cllr Colin Dingwall, Cabinet Member for Broadband said: “Ultrafast broadband is essential for individuals and businesses in the area so we’re pleased that, through the contract with Gigaclear, we can see this investment through.

“Oxfordshire is known as the UK’s leading centre for innovation and we want to make sure we have the infrastructure to support this.”

Joe Frost, Business Development Director at Gigaclear, added: “Full fibre is the only future proofed solution to digital connectivity and we firmly believe the industry should prioritise the deployment of fibre broadband to homes and businesses throughout the country.

“Residents and businesses, especially those in rural areas, have been excluded for too long and I’m pleased Gigaclear is able to play a key role in solving this problem for all those living, working and visiting West Oxfordshire.”

Matt Hancock, Minister for Digital, said: “I am delighted that our investment will take full fibre broadband to another 4,600 homes and businesses in West Oxfordshire. We are transforming the nation's digital landscape and by 2020 everyone in the UK will have access to a fast, reliable and affordable internet connection."

West Oxfordshire marks Gigaclear’s 19th successful tender with BDUK, which has previously seen it deliver broadband networks to tens of thousands of homes and businesses across Berkshire, Devon, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Northamptonshire.

Residents can find out more about the project and see if they can get ultrafast broadband by visiting www.gigaclear.com/connectingwestoxfordshire

Gigaclear is the most successful provider of ultrafast, full fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband to rural Britain, enabling speeds of up to 1,000Mbps (1Gbps). Building networks through the government-subsidised Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) rural broadband programme as well as via commercial investment, Gigaclear’s network currently covers more than 50,000 homes and businesses in the south of the UK, offering a future proofed, high quality broadband solution. To find out more about qualifying communities go to www.gigaclear.com/can-i-get-it
by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 26 Oct, 2017
We’re launching a brand-new campaign to find talented business people who have the confidence, ambition and skill to put themselves in the driving seat of this region’s economy. We’re calling it The Talent 2018…

You can nominate yourself, someone you admire, a friend or colleague, or even the boss. If you’re an employer, then nominate a promising member of your staff.

We’re keeping the entry criteria as loose as we can, because who knows where and when talent will reveal itself, but it’s likely that most of those who make our Talent list will be under 40, making a real impact in their chosen field of work, and have ambition and determination in bucket loads.

You can be an entrepreneur or in the corporate world. Or perhaps you’re working hard in the charity sector, a leading light in the creative industries – or just doing what you do brilliantly in a more administrative or professional role. Apprentices, graduates are also eligible, if they’ve been quick off the mark to demonstrate their talent.

Just get in touch. Whatever our Talent is doing, they’ll stand out from the crowd. Better than all the rest.

We want to hear from you…

We’ll kick off the New Year by showcasing The Talent 2018 in our January issue and we’ll be hosting a special event to celebrate the list. We’ll add to the list each year, making a unique and growing networking group which has the potential to make a huge impact on this region, and the UK’s economy.

Are you better than anyone we’ve ever met?

To nominate, send us the following information:

  • The name of the person you wish to nominate (you can nominate yourself)
  • Your/their age in 2018
  • The company you/they work for (if any)
  • Your/their job title (or what you do)
  • Your 30-word pitch for inclusion in The Talent
  • A photograph if you have it

Email us at  enquiries@nkmedia.co.uk  with THE TALENT in the subject line.

Nominations close on 8 December.

Good Luck!


What is Talent?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Talent as  ‘natural aptitude and skill’,  but we think talent can also be developed through commitment and hard work.

Are leaders born or made?

Bookshop shelves are weighted down by heavy tomes on the topic. Some people are born leaders, others are savvy enough to gain confidence, learn through experience and rise to leadership roles later in life. And some just aren’t ever going to be leaders. That’s life, get over it (and it doesn’t make them less valuable in a team. After all, not everyone can be the engine driver).

What is an entrepreneur?

There are probably more entrepreneurs today than before the industrial revolution.  The growth of the ‘gig’ economy has meant an increasing acceptance that it’s OK to try things, not succeed and try again. As long as you learn from what went wrong. Leaders and Entrepreneurs see opportunities which others miss, and often use their business to capitalise on them.  But entrepreneurial flair can sometimes only take a business so far and some individuals often don’t make good CEOs where other skill sets are required. However, it’s used, Talent is never wasted. Whether you’re leading a business, or inspiring others through your creativity, Talent can take you, and your business to the very top.

by Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 25 Oct, 2017
Stretch Fabric Linings Ltd, www.stretchfl.com , has expanded their business by buying an additional building comprising some 2,770 sq. ft. at Unit 1, Swan Industrial Estate, on the edge of Banbury Town Centre.

Stretch Fabric Linings, with over 30 years’ experience and expertise in the event and marquee industry, is one of the leading custom-made interior lining specialists in the UK, providing high quality bespoke fabric linings and hard wall panelling schemes to the event industry throughout the UK and Europe.

Stretch Fabric Linings Director, Harry Gijsbers, says “The building will provide much needed additional warehousing and distribution accommodation for our growing business and in particular extra storage facilities for our hard-wall panelling schemes which is an expanding part of our business. The facility will operate alongside our current site in Banbury at Overthorpe Road.”

Chris White, Managing Director of White Commercial, says “Stretch’s expansion signifies and confirms a continuing trend for many companies along the M40 who are experiencing positive trading and a requirement for additional operating facilities. The northern part of the London to Birmingham M40 – undergoing both existing and planned significant commercial and residential growth supported by excellent road and rail communications - has both a supporting public economic and development sector.”

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