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The Oxford Science Park celebrates 25 years of discovery: Lord Drayson pays tribute to Oxford’s early pioneers and toasts success for next generation of entrepreneurs

Tuesday 15th March 2016

Speaking at a glittering event hosted by Magdalen College to celebrate The Oxford Science Park’s 25th anniversary, Lord Drayson paid tribute to Oxford’s early pioneers who had the foresight to create The Oxford Science Park in 1991 and toasted success for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Held on Wednesday 9 March 2016 at the Park’s Sadler Building, the event was also to celebrate the College’s recent acquisition of the 50% stake in the Park joint venture to take 100% control of the management and future development of the Park, and its strategic commitment to develop an additional 300,000 sq ft of new office and laboratory space on the remaining 12.8 acres of land.

The Oxford Science Park also unveiled its striking new brand identity, reflecting its position as one of the most influential environments in the UK. Set in 75 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds with an atmosphere of discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship, the Park is a community with over 2,400 people in more than 60 companies, ranging from start-ups based in the Magdalen Centre innovation hub to SMEs to major international companies.

Lord Drayson, entrepreneur in residence at Magdalen College, addressed a full crowd of current Park occupiers: academics, researchers, entrepreneurs, and Magdalen College Fellows and alumni, investors, as well as Oxfordshire’s business and professional community.

Lord Drayson said: “When we came to Oxford in 1993 to set up PowderJect, Magdalen College and its Dons supported us by providing flexibility at the Park with our rent and office space and room to grow in return for a small equity share. The atmosphere, even though we were four people, was professional and entrepreneurial. It was the College’s kind support that enabled us to prosper and it paid off as we became a £550 million company, the world’s sixth largest vaccine company with a 40x return to investors, including Magdalen and its Dons, with £21 million to the University to help build the new engineering building on South Parks Road.

“It is the entreprenurial culture and expertise that has been recycled into other many companies that have come out of PowderJect, and many growing up on The Oxford Science Park: Circassia, MedPhram, PsiOxus, Powdermed, Oxford Immunotech – surpassing the wealth creation of Powderject many fold.

“That story has been replicated many times in Oxford with other companies creating a legacy of talent and experience to create one of the largest entrepreneurial science clusters in the country – and The Oxford Science Park has and will continue to be part of that story.

“We have seen a transformation in Oxford’s financing with the creation of Oxford Sciences Innovation – championed by another Magdalen College person, Peter Davies of Lansdowne, with a breakthrough £320 million fund, which alongside the Woodford Patient Capital Fund based in Cowley, means that Oxford entrepreneurs now have access to the captial to realise the full potential of their ideas. And this reflects a sea change in the attitude of the University of Oxford which now has innovation and wealth creation firmly at the heart of its agenda.

“So as we look back over the 25 years, let us pay tribute to the early pioneers who had the foresight to create The Oxford Science Park, and toast the next 25 years and the success and prosperity of the next generation of Oxfordshire’s entrepreneurs.”

Rory Maw, bursar of Magdalen College said: “We are proud to be at the centre of this resurgence of innovation and entrepreneurship in Oxford. Magdalen College had the vision 25 years ago to create the Park and, in that time, we’ve seen two and a half decades of incredible discovery. We are demonstrating our commitment to the Park’s future development, helping Oxford’s growing community of science, technology and business services companies establish themselves, innovate, and thrive, to help them discover more.”

Magdalen College completed the acquisition of the outstanding 50% share of The Oxford Science Park in December 2015 for £18.1 million.