University of Oxford's fifth innovation fund is seeking investors to help propel more promising spinouts and startups from the Oxford innovation ecosystem.
Oxford University Innovation (OUI), the tech transfer office of University of Oxford, on Monday announced it was launching its fifth university co-investment fund, University of Oxford Innovation Fund (UOIF) V.
UOIF V’s target corpus and limited partners have not been disclosed. It will be run by Parkwalk Advisors, the fund management subsidiary of IP Group that also oversees University of Cambridge and University of Bristol’s co-investment vehicles.
Like its four precursors, UOIF V aims to foster the launch of spinouts based on University of Oxford research – in all, it is expected to seed six to eight Oxford intellectual properties based on OUI’s recommendations.
Each previous UOIF fund raised approximately $2m, with one launched every year since 2014. Generally, University of Oxford alumni put up the majority of the capital.
There is a minimum investment threshold of £25,000 ($31,200) for UOIF V, which will benefit from UK tax breaks designed to incentivise high-risk investments.
Moray Wright, co-founder of Parkwalk Advisors, argued that while university venturing is high-risk, it is perhaps less so than investments in other startups. He estimated about 90% of spinouts remain active after five years, whereas 50% of startups have closed after two years.
Wright said: “University IP sits atop big brains that have been supported by funding, equipment and networks. It is likely to outpace two guys coming home from a pub with an idea and an app.”
Portfolio companies from UOIF I through IV have included Oxford alumni-founded edtech developer BibliU, winner of the GUV-allied Future Planet Awards in 2019, and drone development spinout Animal Dynamics, which netted Parkwalk a 6.9 return on much of its stake earlier this year.
Others include brain imaging diagnostics software spinout Brainomix, molecular measurement instrument spinout Refeyn and social media analytics software spinout TheySay.
Without naming the spinout involved, Wright revealed the first UOIF fund suffered a failed investment close to its inception. However, the vehicle was subsequently able to break even.