Department of Chemistry   University of Oxford

New Research Laboratory for Chemistry

The coordination of fund raising for the new building is being run by University Development Office.

News 18 June 2002

The topping out ceremony for the £60 million Chemistry Research Laboratory of the University of Oxford is to take place on Friday, 21 June 2002. The laboratory, due to open in July 2003, is the biggest building contract ever undertaken by the University.

The ceremony coincides with a benefaction of $375,000 (£257,686) from the family of Landon T Clay. In recognition of their generosity, one of the laboratories in the new building will be named after Professor Jeremy Knowles, recently retired as Dean of Arts and Sciences at Harvard, and formerly an Oxford faculty member. As part of the ceremony, a time-capsule will be buried in the foundations of the building to mark the laboratory's status as one of the University Millennium buildings.

The new laboratory will house some 400 researchers and be organised around interdisciplinary research themes rather than traditional sub-faculties, including chemical and molecular biology, synthesis and molecular design, and interfacial and materials science. Cutting-edge equipment will include the latest nuclear magnetic resonance machines, lasers and mass spectrometers.

Professor Graham Richards, Chairman of Chemistry, said: 'This building will provide the best possible environment for research and maintain Oxford's position as the biggest department in the western world and one of the leaders in chemical research. It will also help us enhance our links with industry by enabling interdisciplinary research. Without the help of government funding, private foundations and individual benefactors this building would not have been possible.'

A £30million award was made by the Joint Infrastructure Fund, constituting the largest award made by the Fund with contributions from the EPSRC, HEFCE and The Wellcome Trust. A further £20 million was raised through a novel scheme with the investment bank Beeson Gregory, who in return acquired a share of the University's equity in Chemistry spin-out companies for the next 15 years. This funding model, labelled by the Financial Times 'a blueprint for universities everywhere', has since been copied by other institutions, and three new spin-out companies have already been created since its inception.

Generous donations have been given to date by the Wolfson Foundation, the EP Abraham Research Fund, Thomas Swan & Co, and the Salters Company and most recently by the family of Landon T Clay.

The ceremony takes place at 12.15 at the building site in South Parks Road. Journalists wishing to attend, please contact the press office on 01865 280528.

Notes to editors:

  • Construction work of the project, which is currently on time and budget, began in April 2001. Computer-generated images of the completed building are available, as well as more detail and web cam views, on the departmental website:
  • The Oxford University Chemistry Department is the largest in the western world, with more Chemistry graduates and more students with doctorates being trained at Oxford than at any university in the USA, Europe or this country. The Department was rated 5* in the recent RAE exercise, and came top in the league table published by The Times, which ranked UK departments. The department currently has 72 faculty members including 10 Fellows of the Royal Society, 50 active research groups and 150 postdoctoral researchers. The Department's current annual research income is in excess of £10 million.
  • Three companies have been founded under the deal with Beeson Gregory, which entitles the company to a share of the University equity spun out from the Chemistry department: Inhibox (December 2001), a drug-discovery company using advanced computational methods; Pharminox (January 2002), which carries out pre-clinical studies on novel agents for the treatment of cancer, and Zyentia (May 2002), a company targeting major problems in protein therapies.
  • Professor Richards donated the shares he was to gain from his spin-off company, Inhibox, to the National Foundation of Cancer Research, which funds the NFCR Centre for Computational Drug Design at Oxford University's Chemistry department.
  • The new Research Laboratory is constructed by Laing Construction. Laing Construction are a major Building Contractor providing total Construction Solutions both nationally and from strategic locations worldwide. With an extensive portfolio of successfully completed higher education and commercial research facilities, work at Oxford Chemistry Research Laboratories continues a tradition of high quality, high profile laboratory projects for major Universities in the UK.
  • The Joint Infrastructure Fund is a multimillion-pound partnership between the Wellcome Trust, the Office of Science and Technology, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). It was set up to transform the scientific research environment within universities in the UK.

News 24 November 2000

An innovative £20 million venture has been formed by Oxford University and Beeson Gregory Group plc which will complete funding of the University's new £60 million Chemistry Building and assist the formation of new spin-out companies from research in the Chemistry Department. 

Under the terms of the joint venture, Beeson Gregory (an investment bank focused on European growth companies) will provide £20 million towards the state-of the art building in which chemists from the three traditionally distinct branches of the science - organic, inorganic and physical - will work closely together. Construction of the building began in September, after the project was awarded the biggest single JIF grant to date of £30 million. In return, the University will transfer a share of its future rights to equity in spin-out companies arising from the Chemistry Department to Beeson Gregory for the next 15 years. The Department has an established track record of spin-out success, with four of the University's 23 spin-out companies having originated from its research.

Beeson Gregory will also assist Isis Innovation, the University's subsidiary technology transfer company, with the formation of spin-outs from the Department, and work alongside them as required to develop companies from early stage intellectual property ventures to initial public offering and beyond. Beeson Gregory has appointed Chris Wright as Chief Executive of its newly formed operating subsidiary Beeson Gregory University Investments, with specific responsibility for developing the relationship between the University and Beeson Gregory.

Beeson Gregory Chief Executive Andrew Beeson said: "We are delighted to have been selected by Oxford University to work with them in the commercial development of the Chemistry Department's research. We are looking forward to our team making a significant contribution to the ultimate value of the Chemistry Department's research and to playing a role in helping keep the Department in its pre-eminent position worldwide"

Professor Graham Richards, Chairman of the Chemistry Department, said: "The Beeson Gregory team has a proven track record in developing spin-out companies. With Chris Wright overseeing this venture and working closely with Isis we envisage that the University will enjoy significant upside from this powerful combination."

For further information please contact the Press Office on (01865) 280531

  • £60 million has been raised within a year for the new Chemistry Building, which has received grants from the JIF, Wolfson Foundation, EP Abraham Trust, Thomas Swan and the Salters Company in addition to the new partnership with Beeson Gregory. 

  • The Oxford Chemistry Department is the largest in the western world. Each year it produces 180 graduates who have completed a four-year chemistry course which includes a full year of research, 80 doctorates and it has 60 tenured faculty. It was one of only two UK Chemistry Departments to receive a 5* rating in the last Research Assessment Exercise for which the work of 72 academics was submitted. The Department has produced four Nobel Laureates and has 10 Fellows of the Royal Society amongst its current staff. It has been particularly successful in creating spin-out companies, two of which have become public companies.

  • The University of Oxford has an unparalleled track record of creating high technology based spin-outs, with 16 companies being created since 1997, all of which have received investment funding. Major spin-out successes include Oxford Glycosciences, set up in 1988 to pioneer new drug development, which now has a current market value of £784 million. Isis Innovation, the University's wholly-owned subsidiary technology-transfer company currently has more than 300 projects ongoing, and files one patent a week. The recently established Isis Angels Network currently has investors offering a total of over £19 million waiting to invest in University research.

  • In June, the University also opened a £25 million Business and Science Park at Begbroke, which is home to a business incubator for new start-up companies, linking business and scientific research, and also to established spin-out companies Nanox, Opsys and Prolysis.  In October, Magdalen College announced the beginning of Phase II of the Oxford Science Park, which is now home to more than 40 science and technology-based companies employing nearly 1,000 people.

  • The University received special commendation in the Government's White Paper "Excellence and Opportunity" for its key role in both the national and regional economy.


NEWS September 2000- Groundbreaking for the CHEMISTRY Research Laboratory

Thursday 7 September 2000

Lord Mayor with Professor Graham Richards, Chairman of Chemistry

Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Maureen Christian

Lord Mayor with the Design Team and Constructors Laing

Volunteers and Benefactors left to right: Bernard Taylor, Tom Swan, Mike Peagram, Sandy Todd, with the Chairman of Chemistry, and Development Executive Melissa Levitt


NEWS July 2000.

RMJM presented to the Department of Chemistry the lastest designs and layout of the New Research Laboratory - click here to view their powerpoint slides online.(requires MS Internet Explorer)

NEWS 7th December 1999.

The JIF bid for the new Chemistry Research Laboratory has been approved in principle for support. The exact details of the funding remain to be clarified. Around 320 million of bids were approved, with values from 30 million downwards. This success will go a substantial way to providing the 58 million required for the new laboratory. We are almost unique in being awarded funds from the three possible sources: the Wellcome Trust; the Research Councils (OST); and HEFCE. This is wonderful news for the Chemistry Department at Oxford.

NEWS 1st November 1999.

The image for the future of chemistry at the University of Oxford is progressing well. Architect plans were unveiled in October.

Right is an illustration of the new building with a view north along Mansfield Road past Mansfield College towards the Physical & Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory at the end, with the New Research Laboratory on the left side of the road.

Right is an illustration of the new building with a view west along South Parks Road, with the New Research Laboratory on the left side of the road.



About this Site, Privacy and Accessibility. © Copyright 1995 - 2014 University of Oxford