Oxford University Innovation Ltd
FormerlyIsis Innovation (1988–2016)
Oxford University Research and Development Ltd (1987–1988)
TypePrivate Limited company
IndustryTechnology transfer
Key people
Liam Dolan
Stephen G. Davies
Lionel Tarassenko[1]
ParentUniversity of Oxford

Oxford University Innovation Limited (OUI) is a British technology transfer and consultancy company created to manage the research and development (R&D) of University spin-offs. OUI is a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Oxford, and is located on Botley Road, Oxford, England.[2][3][4] OUI was previously known as Isis Innovation (1988–2016) and Oxford University Research and Development Ltd (1987–1988).[5]


The company was established in 1987 as Oxford University Research and Development Ltd and was renamed Isis Innovation a year later, becoming Oxford University Innovation in 2016.[6] Oxford University Innovation and its sub-divisions manage the University's intellectual property (IP) portfolio, working with University academics and researchers who wish to commercialise their work by identifying, protecting and marketing technologies through patenting and licensing, spin-off company formation, consulting and material sales.[citation needed]

Oxford University Innovation provides researchers with commercial advice, funds patent applications and legal costs, negotiates third-party licences and spin-out company agreements, and identifies and manages consultancy opportunities for University of Oxford academics. Oxford University Innovation works on projects from all of the University's research divisions: medical sciences, mathematical, physical & life sciences, humanities and social sciences. Current and former members of the board of directors include Liam Dolan, Stephen G. Davies, Lionel Tarassenko, John Bell, Mike Brady and David Cooksey.[1][7]

Patents, licensing, and spin-outs

Oxford University Innovation files, on average, one patent application each week, manages over 360 patent application families and has concluded over 450 licence agreements which has made Oxford University Innovation "one of the country’s most prolific technology transfer offices when it comes to agreeing licensing deals".[8] According to 2012 figures from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Oxford University Innovation is the 4th largest filer of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) patent applications in the UK[9] and the highest European university applicant.[10] Oxford University Innovation licenses technologies to companies who invest in developing and selling the products in a timely and ethical manner. Licensees are sought from all technology and business sectors on an international basis.[citation needed]

Oxford University Innovation works with University researchers to develop new business opportunities, identifying and sourcing investment, management and professional services. Since 1988 Oxford University Innovation has assisted in the formation of more than 70 University spin-out companies, generating over £2 billion in unquoted and quoted market valuations for the University of Oxford. Notable spin-outs include:

Oxford University Innovation's divisions

Oxford University Innovation is split into three divisions, dedicated to different areas of knowledge transfer. Alongside the central Technology Transfer group that deals exclusively with disclosures and patent applications from University of Oxford researchers, Oxford University Innovation manages:[citation needed]

Innovation, angel investors and incubators

Oxford Innovation Society (OIS)

The Oxford Innovation Society (OIS), founded in 1990, is a forum for Open Innovation, bringing together researchers and inventors, Oxford spin-outs, technology transfer professionals, local companies, venture capital groups and some of the world's most innovative multinationals. The society allows companies to have a "window" on Oxford science and fosters links between business and the academic community. Members receive an advance notification of all patent applications marketed by Oxford University Innovation, invitations to networking opportunities at formal OIS dinners, customised research presentations and bespoke seminars for technology roadmapping and strategic planning.[citation needed]

Isis Angels Network (IAN)

The Isis Angels Network (IAN) introduces private investors and seed/venture capitalists interested in investing in spin-out companies from the University of Oxford to investment opportunities. IAN is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, established by the then Isis in 1999.[citation needed]

Oxford University Innovation also administers the Oxford University Challenge Seed Fund (UCSF), which was launched in 1999 with investment from the UK Treasury, Wellcome Trust and Gatsby Foundation. The £4 million Oxford UCSF has invested in over 100 projects, ranging in size from £1,700 to £250,000. The overall objective of the UCSF scheme is to enable universities to access seed funds in order to assist the successful transformation of good research into good business.[citation needed]

In 2010, Oxford University Innovation (then Isis Innovation) – in conjunction with the University’s 'Oxford Thinking' campaign – created the Oxford Invention Fund (OIF). The open fund allows anyone to donate money which goes towards helping create prototypes or proof-of-concept models from ideas and technologies developed at Oxford to improve the transfer into a commercial setting.[16]

Oxford University Innovation manages the licensing of copyrighted Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs) questionnaires via its Isis Outcomes brand. These questionnaires, developed within the University, are used for academic and commercial clinical studies into a variety of illnesses,[17] including parkinson’s disease[18] and endometriosis. The negotiation of sales agreements for biological and physical science materials such as cell lines and antibodies are also handled by Isis Innovation.

Isis Startup Incubator (ISI)

Since 2010, Oxford University Innovation has run the Isis startup Incubator (ISI), a business incubator designed to support very early-stage software ventures from students, staff and alumni of the University of Oxford; the Incubator offers physical space and IT facilities as well as commercial mentoring, funding support and business networking facilitation. Oxford University Innovation has links with all the parts of the University involved in technology commercialisation and enterprise. These include:

Oxford Spin-out Equity Management (OSEM) was created in 2008[citation needed] and works closely with Oxford University Innovation and the University of Oxford’s Finance Division to manage the University’s shareholdings in its spin-out companies and optimising returns on University investments.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Oxford University Innovation Limited - - Officers". companieshouse.gov.uk. London: Companies House. 2019. Archived from the original on 10 April 2019.
  2. ^ "Oxford University Innovation". Innovation.ox.ac.uk. Oxford University Innovation.
  3. ^ "Innovation and Partnership - University of Oxford". Ox.ac.uk.
  4. ^ "Investment portfolio". Ox.ac.uk. Oxford University Innovation.
  5. ^ "The Oxford Boom". Oxford University Innovation Annual Report. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  6. ^ Straumsheim, Carl (16 June 2016). "Another Isis Changes Its Name". Inside Higher Ed.
  7. ^ "Board Overview". Oxford University Innovation. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  8. ^ Lambert, Richard (2003). Lambert review of business-university collaboration : final report (PDF). Norwich: HMSO. p. 60. ISBN 0-947819-76-2. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  9. ^ Top applicants, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
  10. ^ Top applicants, University Sector, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
  11. ^ "Making Smart Metering Smarter - ISE" (PDF). UCSF 10-year report 1999–2009. Oxford University. p. 9. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  12. ^ "TB vaccine candidate enters Phase IIb proof of concept trial in South Africa". vaccinenewsdaily.com. Vaccine News. 2 January 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  13. ^ "Nanopore: the Oxford story - University of Oxford". Ox.ac.uk.
  14. ^ "Leaders in perovskite solar technology - Oxford PV". Oxfordpv.com.
  15. ^ "Vaccitech secures £20m Series A with GV, OSI and Sequoia China". Oxford University Innovation. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  16. ^ "Oxford Invention Fund Report and Update 2014" (PDF). Isis Innovation. University of Oxford. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  17. ^ "Isis Outcomes Launches New Site". Oxford University Innovation. 15 November 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  18. ^ "PDQ-39 Questionnaire". Ndph.ox.ac.uk. Nuffield Department of Population Health. Retrieved 24 May 2018.