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Frequently asked questions

OSE’s partnership with Oxford University is unique. Why?

We launched in 2015 as a joint venture with the University of Oxford, a partnership that gives the University a non-dilutive 5% stake in OSE. In return, we receive half of the University’s founding equity in spinouts emerging from any of the science departments (MPLS and the Medical Sciences). This equates to 5-10% of founding equity in every spinout. We then use our balance sheet to invest in a subset of these.

Furthermore, we have a blanket confidentiality agreement with the University. This means that we see ideas before anyone else does (often 1-2 years beforehand).

How are you different to Oxford University Innovation?

OUI is the University’s technology transfer office and provides independent advice to academics throughout the spinout process. We work in close partnership with OUI during this process.

When a spinout is not the best path, OUI works with academics to licence their IP to corporate partners worldwide. OSE, by contrast, focuses exclusively on founding, funding and building new companies.

Do you invest in all University spinouts?

Our partnership with the University has led to an automatic stake in approximately 135 science spinouts. Of these we have invested in over 80, helping progress >50 from seed to Series A and >20 to Series B and beyond, including 2 IPOs and 7 exits.

We actively focus on a core collection of ~40 companies.

Who are your investors?

To date we have raised over £850 million (>$1 billion) from a diverse group of shareholders, including institutional investors, sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and pension funds. Our largest shareholders include Lansdowne Partners, Braavos, Temasek, Oman Investment Authority, University of Oxford, M&G, Qatar Investment Authority, GV, OUEM and the Wellcome Trust.

I am an academic. When is the best time to approach you?

As soon as you are keen to explore the potential to commercialise your IP and know-how. No team, business plan or commercial validation needed. We will work with you to define and refine the business strategy, financing options, operating plans and team build.

How do you support Oxford's academic founders?

We support our academics founders in several different ways. We work together closely from the beginning, helping them to shape their ideas into business plans, navigate the spin-out process and establish their initial team. To help provide a better understanding of entrepreneurship and what it takes to found, fund and build companies, we provide 12-month sabbaticals for academics to work alongside us at OSE.

We’ve also created a mechanism to release founder’s equity early if desired. Under certain conditions, Oxford academic founders may sell up to 10% of their shares to OSE at each funding round with an increase in valuation, from Series A onward.

How else do you contribute to Oxford’s growing ecosystem?

In addition to investing in state-of-the-art lab and start-up facilities needed to nurture new spinouts, our investments directly benefit University departments. To help them fund further research, we gift back to the founding Departments 2% (pre-money valuation) of our stake in each successful business. Under certain conditions, if the Department wishes to sell part of its stake for liquidity purposes, we offer to buy back 25% of the 2% stake at each successful fund raise.

What is your approach to sustainability?

As a long-term investor, we consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues as fundamental to the success of our companies. OSE aims to integrate sustainability across the business: from promoting an inclusive culture so teams can truly thrive, to kicking-off new investments with ESG and impact workshops. In these workshops we help our companies to assess their potential impact, alongside ESG opportunities and risks.

The value we place on transparency and accountability is reflected in our ESG reporting, including climate and diversity performance. To find out more please read our full ESG policy.