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      Supporting Scientific Breakthroughs

      Four part Q&A with Pete Wilder, Head of Property, Oxford Science Enterprises

      17 Feb 2022 Pete Wilder, Head of Property, Oxford Science Enterprises

      1. What is Oxford Science Enterprises' mission, and how does your team support scientific breakthroughs?

      When we were founded in 2015, then operating as Oxford Science Innovation, a critical part of our foundation was our partnership with the University of Oxford. We wanted to combine the best scientists and brightest business minds together, helping to solve the world’s biggest challenges at speed and to better commercialise ground-breaking research. We receive a stake in every company that spins out of the various science departments of the University, across everything from the computer sciences to engineering, and in return the University holds a stake in our business.

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      2. Are there any enterprises that you've funded that have been world-changing in their approach to societal challenges?

      Vaccitech is the obvious answer to this question. This is an enterprise that we have invested in since its inception, founding and creating the business in 2016 alongside Professors Sarah Gilbert and Adrian Hill. Vaccitech are now credited as co-inventors of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and it is their technology, created by Adrian Hill and Dame Sarah Gilbert, that underpins the vaccine. This has been a phenomenal journey to have witnessed and been a small part of over eighteen months, and it is amazing to see the impact it has had on the world during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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      3. Why is the Oxford-Cambridge Arc a unique region for scientific and technological collaboration?

      Oxford and the Arc aren’t operating in a bubble, our scientists and academics are collaborating globally all the time. Both the University of Oxford and Harwell see regular collaboration with a global group of academics from hundreds of different universities working together. But we recognise that to actually build the ecosystem and create an Arc we need more than academics, we need places for companies to scale, for employees to live, infrastructure for them to commute easily, and the opportunity to send their children to decent schools. 

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      4. What are the opportunities and barriers to commercialising research in the Arc?

      In some ways, the opportunities and challenges are one and the same: there is so much going on within the University it can be difficult to fully understand its output, and we need to be working with academics to better understand the scientific research coming out of the departments from these amazing and talented people. We also have to continue to strip away pointless bureaucracy and ensure everyone’s interests across academia, the private and public sector are aligned.

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