This year marked the first spinout investment from Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), established to invest in spinouts from the University and the Oxford cluster.

Fourteen spinouts from this Division alone, mostly from the Departments of Engineering, Chemistry and Computer Sciences, are evidence of an extremely successful year. Technologies from the Division are poised to make significant contributions to global health and wellbeing.

The Zoology Department – the origin of Natural Motion, an earlier spinout which exited for $527m – this year provided the expertise that went into Animal Dynamics (AnDy), which is creating machines incorporating evolutionary optimisations observed in nature. By observing and understanding how creatures move, AnDy is developing highly efficient machines that can be manoeuvred and propelled through the air, on land and through water.

Another Zoology spinout, Oxitec, was sold for $160m to Intrexon in August, having established the safety and efficacy of its technology to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito which carries dengue. Later in the year the company gained widespread attention when the US FDA approved the release of Oxitec’s modified mosquitos, which can also spread the Zika virus, for a field trial to control the mosquito population in Florida.

Autonomous vehicle technology was trialled by 2014 spinout Oxbotica in driverless pods in Milton Keynes and in the GATEway project controlling a fleet of autonomous vehicles in London. The ability of Oxbotica’s software to make vehicles learn and become ‘self aware’, hence not dependent on constant reference to GPS etc, ensures that the system can be used anywhere in the real world – with its roadworks, ever-changing weather conditions etc.

This year marked the first spinout investment from Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), established to invest in spinouts from the University and the Oxford cluster. OSI’s first investment was in Oxford Flow, which develops precision engineered products. Founder Professor Tom Povey identified the need for a flow regulator valve while researching jet engines for clients such as Rolls Royce: “I was working with high flow rates of compressed gas that, for reasons of efficiency and safety, needed to be regulated,” he said. “Regulators available on the market were not precise enough so I devised a completely new method of controlling gas and developed a series of products based on this technology.” The resulting valve regulates the flow of gases and liquids in industrial processes, is 80 per cent lighter than existing products and can handle over 10 times the volume with a high degree of precision and control.

OSI went on to invest in a further 11 spinouts in the year.

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