The company Isis Innovation was established in 1987 as Oxford University Research and Development Ltd and was renamed Isis Innovation a year later. Isis Innovation and its sub-divisions manage the University's intellectual property portfolio, working with University academics and researchers who wish to commercialise their work by identifying, protecting and marketing technologies through patenting and licensing, spin-out company formation, consulting and material sales.
Isis provides researchers with commercial advice, funds patent applications and legal costs, negotiates third-party licences and spin-out company agreements, and identifies and manages consultancy opportunities for University of Oxford academics. Isis works on projects from all of the University's research divisions: medical sciences, mathematical, physical & life sciences, humanities and social sciences.
Isis Innovation will be renamed Oxford University Innovation, in order to enhance the already strong links between Isis Innovation and the University1. This will strengthen awareness of the company and its services within the wider University, and better portray the University’s ownership of the company.
With a record 16 spinout companies launched and more than 450 academic consultancy contracts signed in the last 12 months, innovation activity in Oxford University is successful, growing, and making a significant contribution to the local economy. Professor Ian Walmsley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) at the University of Oxford, added his voice to the recent Oxfordshire Green Paper2 concerning the future of the region, saying: “We are very pleased that the key regional leaders have joined to frame a vision for the future of Oxfordshire that brings together their aspirations for economic growth with improved quality of life and how innovation can contribute to achieving this vision.”
Support for enterprise and innovation is at the heart of the University’s Strategic Plan. The Oxford University Innovation Working Group recognised the vital role of Isis Innovation in technology transfer as a key service to Divisions, and made recommendations to establish still firmer connections. Various practical steps have already been taken to meet this objective, including establishing regular staffing at hotdesks in University departments. The new company name and branding – being introduced later this month – will further reinforce this.
An additional, secondary, consideration was the similarity of the current name to so-called Islamic State, which caused occasional business issues such as emails being blocked. However, the overriding reason for change – clearer definition of the link to the University – was compelling in its own right, and received unanimous support in our consultation process.
Managing Director of Isis Innovation, Linda Naylor, said, “Commercialising University research and expertise is important to enable wider society to benefit from the work of our world-leading academics. By changing our name to Oxford University Innovation the breadth of support from the University for entrepreneurial researchers will be more visible. We will also benefit from the global brand recognition of the University, allowing us to attract more clients and investors for the Intellectual Property-based technologies and for the many services that we provide to increase engagement with researchers. More successful engagements will contribute to greater impact from researchers’ work as well as greater financial returns to the University and individual researchers.”
Further new initiatives supporting innovation within the University will be announced over the coming months.