An insightful new report and interactive dashboard has been published by Advanced Oxford in conjunction with Elsevier. Oxfordshire’s Innovation Engine 2023 report assesses the growth of the region’s innovation ecosystem over the last 10 years, the challenges ahead and puts forward six actionable recommendations to help Oxfordshire (and other regions) support the government’s ambition for the UK to be a science and technology superpower by 2030.
Here, our managing director Jane Galsworthy gives her reflections on the report and the innovation ecosystem in Oxfordshire.
We welcome this latest report and dashboard by Advanced Oxford. It is clear from the report that Oxfordshire has a thriving innovation ecosystem with a flourishing community of spin-outs and start-ups. In fact, 64% of the region’s businesses are innovation-active according to the UK Innovation Survey and 5,700 patent applications have been made by Oxfordshire based firms and institutions in the last five years (to 2022).
The report highlights some of the great innovative businesses that have been created in Oxfordshire – revealing the county to be an innovation hatchery for the country. Government focus is on levelling up but the report emphasises that the innovation taking place in Oxfordshire generates benefits beyond the county and makes an important contribution to the UK economy.
Oxfordshire remains a great place for innovative businesses to start. Here at Oxford Innovation, we are proud to have played a key role in this ecosystem for more than 30 years, incubating and supporting companies. We help businesses on each step of their journey, from starting-up to scaling-up, through our three core services:
- Advice: High quality business support and advice for SMEs
- Finance: Access to finance for growing innovative businesses
- Space: Environments for entrepreneurs to innovate and collaborate.
We were delighted to see Tokamak Energy and Perspectum showcased in this latest report. Tokamak began its scale-up journey based in our Culham Innovation Centre, raised early stage finance through our Oxford Investment Opportunities Network (OION) and received business coaching to develop their commercial strategy from one of our business support programmes. From those early beginnings, the company now employs 200 people and is making great strides in developing practical applications of fusion technology
Now an international success story, Perspectum started out as a University of Oxford spin-out based in the Oxford Centre for Innovation, which is managed by Oxford Innovation Space and owned by The Oxford Trust. The company also received advice from our team of experts delivering Innovate UK EDGE support to secure funding and develop international partnerships. It has also raised finance through OION. Now a 280-strong team with offices in Boston, San Francisco, Dallas, Portugal and Singapore as well as the UK, the company is another great Oxfordshire success story.
Both companies are excellent examples of how a strong and well-connected innovation ecosystem can support and nurture rapid growth. It is also a reminder that the real outcomes of business support come several years down the line and don’t neatly fit into three year funding cycles.
Alongside the Oxfordshire Innovation Engine 2023 report, Advanced Oxford has also launched an Innovation Dashboard for Oxfordshire. The development of this new interactive dashboard is particularly exciting. It brings together key indicators of innovation and will enable us to track the health of Oxfordshire’s innovation ecosystem and identify emerging trends.
As well as confirming Oxfordshire’s position as an engine of innovation, the report identifies constraints which could impede future growth in Oxfordshire. It highlights the need to improve data connectivity, power infrastructure and the transport system. Space also remains a challenge with over one million square foot demand for office and laboratory floorspace that cannot currently be met.
As a founding member of Advanced Oxford, we know it is important that the views of innovative SMEs are listened to and incorporated into policy and investment decisions because these are the companies that develop new solutions to societal problems and drive growth in the economy. We fully support the six recommendations put forward in Advanced Oxford’s report. We’ll be working closely with Advanced Oxford to get these implemented and ensure that Oxfordshire remains a great place to start and grow an innovative business.
The Oxfordshire’s Innovation Engine 2023 report, authored by Advanced Oxford, can be downloaded at www.advancedoxford.com/innovation-engine