A key priority for OxLEP’s Local Growth Fund investment was to back Oxfordshire’s world-leading science and innovation community, supporting them to continue to make impacts that are not just felt in the UK, but internationally too.
It is perhaps therefore not surprising, that investment aligned with the ambitions of The Oxford Trust – who own the Wood Centre for Innovation in Headington –– has already led to considerable impacts being delivered. This is just one of the projects sat within the significant £107.5 million-worth of Local Growth Fund investment secured for Oxfordshire by OxLEP.
By March 2023 the project had already far exceeded a 2025 target of 148 new jobs for the Oxfordshire economy – a major increase in a sector that continues to grow within the county, in part, through OxLEP’s determination to secure ongoing investment.
The Oxford Trust’s £1.1 million investment into the Wood Centre for Innovation – delivered over two phases – has enabled significant and new life science laboratory facilities to be developed and ultimately increase capacity within Oxfordshire’s major innovation ecosystem.
Over a quarter of this funding – around £300,000 – was secured by OxLEP via the Local Growth Fund.
The Wood Centre for Innovation is owned by The Oxford Trust, a charity launched in 1985 by Oxford-based entrepreneurs, the late Sir Martin Wood and Lady Audrey Wood – the founders of the University of Oxford’s first, and some say most successful, spinout, Oxford Instruments.
Through the Wood Centre for Innovation and its sister centre – the Oxford Centre for Innovation – The Oxford Trust has for nearly 40 years provided cost-effective office space, technical workshops and R&D labs, as well as co-working spaces that back the county’s science and technology start-ups and spin-outs and underpin their future ambitions.
Many of these start-ups have gone on to make major impacts across a range of science and innovation-led fields.
Oxfordshire has a globally-renowned reputation for answering and providing solutions to some of the most-pressing challenges in the world of science – whether it be leading the worldwide charge to develop an effective vaccine for Covid-19, or developing key answers in the drive towards a net-zero future, including via Oxfordshire’s major strengths in the field of fusion energy.
Most-recently, the Novavax R21/Matrix-M vaccine – developed by the University of Oxford – is showing real promise in stemming the spread of Malaria, with at least 75% efficacy in preventing disease.
Set in the heart of Headington’s digital health and life sciences cluster, the Wood Centre for Innovation offers more than just serviced offices. Its flexible workspaces provide the perfect space for start-up and early-stage businesses specialising in science and technology.
Benefiting from state-of-the-art office space, R&D laboratories, technical workshop space and flexible co-working spaces – enhancing collaboration opportunities – the Trust’s Wood Centre for Innovation creates an inspiring business environment and a great community of likeminded people.
As well as enhancing Oxfordshire’s science and innovation capabilities and providing a ‘pathway’ for businesses starting out in the county, the centre is – and will continue to – have a major impact on the county’s economy.
Since opening, the centre has attracted some of the UK’s – and possibly, internationally – most promising start-ups working in science.
Leading and developing companies have already found a home at the Wood Centre for Innovation, including biotech companies DJS Antibodies and Samsara Therapeutics, Lumai, Picturiabio, Lurtis and Spintex, plus other top organisations including Barclays Eagle Labs and SSEN.
Steve Burgess – the chief executive of The Oxford Trust – comments: "It is thanks to OxLEP for securing government funding – alongside the Trust’s significant own investment – that we have been able to accelerate lab provision at our Wood Centre for Innovation that will give early-stage companies the opportunities they need to achieve their potential.
“It is a real endorsement of what we do to have the first and second phases of our lab development supported by the Local Growth Fund.
“We offer a complete range of spaces in our two innovation centres from virtual offices and co-working to grade A office space and class II life science laboratory facilities to support science and tech start-ups focused on R&D on their journey to success.”
Collectively, by 2030, OxLEP-backed Local Growth Fund projects will create 9,700 new jobs, support 2,800 new learners, develop 1,800 new homes and enable at least £850 million of new funding for the county.