Commercialisation

Oxford Chemistry has an outstanding track record in translating fundamental research to effect real-world change, from our ground-breaking work on the lithium-ion battery, to rapid DNA sequencing and a pioneering blood glucose sensor for diabetes. Commercialisation through the licencing of technologies and the formation of spinout companies is an important way our research can bring societal and economic benefit.

Technology licensing

Intellectual property arising from the Department of Chemistry, including patented technologies and software, is offered for commercial use under licence from Oxford University Innovation. Our chemists have filed over 700 patent applications since 2008, with over 400 patents granted.

Spinout companies

Over 30 spinout companies have been formed in the Department of Chemistry since the 1970s. As of 2020, our spinouts have received over £750 million in follow-on funding and employ over 700 people. Find out about some of our spinout successes below.

Our spinouts

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Cortex Organics was spunout from the department in 2021 by Professor Darren Dixon. It provides modern methods for problem-solving and custom synthesis to assist the life-sciences industry, with a particular focus on natural products and pharmaceuticals, catalysis, asymmetric methods, amine synthesis, and green chemistry. 

Professor Charlotte Williams founded Econic Technologies in 2011. Econic is commercializing catalysts to transform waste CO2 into polymers that are suitable for use in a wide range of applications, such as packaging, soft furnishings, insulation and structural foams, adhesives, and protective coatings.

Econic won the Royal Society of Chemistry's Emerging Technologies Competition in 2014.

HydRegen was spun-out by Professor Kylie Vincent and Dr Holly Reeve in 2021. They have developed a biotechnology for hydrogen-powered NADH recycling to produce safe, clean pharmaceutical and speciality chemicals using existing chemical infrastructure.

In 2013 HydRegen won the Royal Society of Chemistry's Emerging Technologies Competition.

In 2018 Professor Dame Carol Robinson launched OMass Therapeutics, a drug discovery company focused on developing treatments for rare immunological and genetic diseases. OMass are developing novel medicines using technologies based on high-resolution mass spectrometry of intact protein assemblies.

Health technology company Osler Diagnostics was founded by Professor Jason Davis in 2016. Osler are bringing to market a portable, handheld diagnostic device able to test a drop of blood for a range of biomarkers.

Oxford Biotrans was spun-out in 2013 by Professor Luet Wong. His research on enzymatic carbon–hydrogen bond oxidation led Oxford Biotrans to develop a new environmentally sustainable method of producing nootkatone (grapefruit flavouring) and bring it to the food and fragrance market.

Oxford Biotrans won the Royal Society of Chemistry's Emerging Technologies Competition in 2018.

Oxford HighQ was spun-out in 2018 by Professor Claire Vallance and Professor Jason Smith (Department of Materials). Oxford HighQ aims to produce next generation chemical and nanoparticle sensors that offer a step change in fluid-based sensing across a wide range of applications. Products in development include a nanoparticle analyser that allows accurate, real-time measurement of drug load distributions and unloading profiles, and a nutrient sensor for the water pollution monitoring market, which will enable remote, in-situ measurement of total phosphorus.

In 2020 Oxford HighQ won the Institute of Physics Business Start-Up Award.

Professor Hagan Bayley spun-out Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) in 2005. ONT have developed DNA and RNA sequencing platforms such as the MinION, a portable sequencer the size of a mobile phone that can sequence 500 individual DNA strands; the scaled up GridION benchtop device; and PromethION, which enables entire human genome sequencing. These devices are used in a number of applications across plant, animal, pathogen and human genomics, as well as generating meaningful and rapid insights in COVID diagnostics and epidemiology, food safety, infectious disease, and HLA tissue typing.

Oxford Sustainable Fuels (OSF) was spun-out in 2017 by Professor Peter Edwards, Dr Tiancun Xiao and Dr Zhaoxi Zhang. OSF has developed technology to utilise plastic and tyre waste, transforming the unrecyclable, mixed and contaminated materials that cannot be recovered by conventional recycling methods into high value products, such as transportation fuels and chemical feedstocks.

Refeyn was founded in 2018 by Professor Philipp Kukura and Professor Justin Benesch on their pioneering novel detection technique Mass Photometry. Refeyn have developed and commercialised the Refeyn OneMP mass photometer, an instrument that measures the mass of individual molecules in solution by light scattering.

In 2019 Refeyn won the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Emerging Technologies Competition.