Laboratory test tubes in coloured light. Credit: Shutterstock


2021 saw Oxford crowned best for successful commercial spin-outs, measured over two decades

Published: 10 January 2022


Share this article

Intellectual property specialist GovGrant has analysed just under 1,000 UK spinout companies, a sample comprising £19.28 billion of capital invested, 4,489 deals and 1,907 investors.

One of the metrics considered by GovGrant was the scale and value of the spin-outs, not just the raw number.

Oxford has generated some of the highest value spinout companies in the UK.

The most successful is Oxford Nanopore Technologies, with a market valuation exceeding £2 billion. 

University of Oxford spinouts have raised a total of £3.1 billion in funding, according to the report authors, but are now worth £8.1bn.

The University of Oxford has 6 spinouts in the UK top 10 by value. Alongside Oxford Nanopore is OxSight, NightstaRx, Oxford Immunotec, Perspectum and Vaccitech, all of them in Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology.

The result shows just what a strong university Oxford has become in these subjects – broadly, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, (STEM) including numerous applied areas but particularly medicine.

One sixth of spinout companies in the UK (16%) originated from Oxford University. This is followed by the University of Cambridge with more than 11% of UK spinout companies and Imperial College London, which has contributed 9% of the UK total.

Imperial College London’s leading spinout is Ceres Power, a fuel cell and engineering company, which comes second in the top 10.

The University of Dundee features fourth on the list with Exscientia, a pharmaceutical company. Exscientia is based in the The Schrödinger Building within Oxford Science Park, now a leading national hub for biotechnology and life science companiescincluding names such as OMass Thereapeutics, Metrichor Ltd., Orbit Discovery and Theolytics – as well as Oxford Nanopore.

Oxford Science Park is situated just south of Littlemore, slightly beyond Oxford’s eastern bypass.

Healthcare is not just an Oxford specialism but a UK-wide university strength.

The report noted that of the top 10 UK spinout companies eight are in the healthcare industry. Healthcare accounts for 45% of spinouts, followed by technology (24%). 

Between 2016 and 2018 alone, UK university spin-outs employed over 23,000 people, with an average of 12 employees per company.

One of the report’s authors Adam Simmonds notes that the pandemic has, if anything, strengthened the UK’s position in biotechnology and healthcare.

‘You only need to look at the recent development of Covid-19 vaccines in the UK to see how accomplished we are in pharmaceutical innovation.’

GovGrant is a intellectual property consultancy specialising in innovation and R&D tax relief. You can read their report here