The Oxford Invention Fund, managed by the university’s technology transfer company, Isis Innovation, will assist Oxford researchers in developing their inventions so they can attract commercial investment and form spin-out companies.
Isis hopes the fund will raise up to £5m from donors who have a specific interest in supporting new technology at Oxford. Returns from successful projects will be reinvested in the hope the fund can become self sustaining.
‘Many university-based inventions lack well-developed product prototypes and vital experimental data to help them succeed, and obtaining funds for such work from venture capital providers or research funders is still a problem,’ said Tom Hockaday, managing director of Isis Innovation.
Isis’s existing fund, the Oxford University Challenge Seed Fund (UCSF), has financed 102 projects with £5.7m since 1999 but has just £1m left to invest, and large returns from current investments are not expected in the current economic climate.
The new fund is able to back any technology at any stage of its development, unlike the UCSF, which has more specific requirements.
‘Picking winners at the earliest stage is the best thing you can do,’ Hockaday told The Engineer. ‘They may not need a lot of money at the start – maybe just £10,000 or £20,000 – but this can make an awful lot of difference.’