Despite largely being in the shadow of London’s burgeoning technology scene, Oxford-based companies are securing regular and lucrative exits.
In the last year exits worth in excess of £1 billion have been accounted for, dominated by big-ticket deals including Circassia and NaturalMotion.
The largest exit of the previous 12 months involved allergy immunotherapies business Circassia, which listed on the London Stock Exchange – raising £200 million at a valuation of £581 million.
Other significant deals saw medical diagnostics company Oxford Immunotec join NASDAQ at a value of £186 million, mobile telephone network optimisation business Arieso sold for £50 million and mobile gaming venture NaturalMotion snapped up by Zynga for £320 million.
David Mott, managing partner at venture investor Oxford Capital, believes that a ‘new generation’ of entrepreneurs have emerged in the Oxford cluster – generating big exits.
‘This success demonstrates the powerhouse that the Oxford technology cluster has become, bringing together technological excellence, entrepreneurial flair and venture backing in one concentrated area,’ he adds.
‘This concentration is great news for the British economy. In fact the Oxford and Cambridge clusters together now employ nearly 750,000 people in the technology and information sectors. That is more than are employed in Silicon Valley and the whole of California.’
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The Oxfordshire region has a strong track record for producing technology companies, particularly those with a scientific angle. Contained within the country is the Harwell Oxford science campus and Satellite Applications Catapult.
Despite the positive results from exits during the last year, research compiled in 2013 indicated that Oxfordshire was losing ground to Cambridge and London when it came to growing as a technology start-up cluster. The evidence, compiled by Oxfordshire’s local enterprise partnership and the University of Oxford, found that congested transport links and rising house prices were stymying progress.
Speaking then, Andrew Hamilton, vice-chancellor of Oxford University, said that strengthening innovation in Oxfordshire is a key element the university’s core mission to continue to attract world-leading students and academics and help its researchers turn new ideas into new commercial activities.