Newly opened Oxford Brookes Enterprise Centre will boost biotech, digital and business innovation

Newly opened Oxford Brookes Enterprise Centre will boost biotech, digital and business innovation across Oxfordshire
Professor Linda King with OxLEP's Nigel Tipple in the new labs

The Oxford Brookes Enterprise Centre, created to provide lab and office space, and access to academic and technical expertise to start-ups, spin-outs and small businesses in the biotech and digital sectors opened today at the Headington Campus.

Funded by Oxford Brookes University and backed with investment secured by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP), the Enterprise Centre aims to support the creation of more than 15 start-up companies and around 70 jobs. Experts from the Oxford Brookes research community and from resident biotech start-ups will be available to help and mentor people using the Enterprise Centre, to give fledgling companies an extra boost.

Being able to access technical expertise and mentoring has been of great benefit to Coding Bio, one of the centre’s start-up companies. The company uses an AI-first approach to design new CARs (Chimeric Antigen Receptors) to revolutionise cell therapy. Starting as a team of two in 2021, they have now expanded to seven people, including a recent Oxford Brookes graduate, Maria-Alexa Cosma, who said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for me to begin my career at the cutting edge of research. We’re literally designing technology for the future. We're using artificial intelligence to design cancer therapies that we can then manufacture in the lab.”

Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, said, “I am delighted that we’re opening this centre today, which is part of our new Directorate for Research, Innovation and Enterprise. It will be wonderful to see how it will help associated research, business and professional support networks to deepen collaboration and accelerate the commercialisation of new ideas. I am particularly pleased that the centre is funding internships for our students and that students will be going on to work for those companies after graduation.”

The centre currently hosts five biotech start-ups: Coding Bio, Oxford Target Therapeutics, an Oxford Brookes spinout company launched earlier this year, Sun Bear Bioworks, MetaGuideX and Oxford Expression Technologies.

The team at OxLEP secured £837,000 of funding for the project via the government’s Local Growth Fund. This investment aims to allow LEPs to use their local knowledge to promote growth in their individual regions.

Nigel Tipple, OxLEP Chief Executive, said: “This project will undoubtedly have a big impact on our already world-class and globally-renowned innovation ecosystem.

"We have now, alongside key partners like Oxford Brookes University, secured around £1 billion-worth of investment into Oxfordshire, each in its own way supporting our business community's ambitions and also our wider communities across the county.

"Oxfordshire’s economy is one that embraces new business. The centre will help new enterprises to grow, become established, meet their ambitions and, longer-term, encourage them to remain in the county too.

"We are also very pleased to learn that the centre will be underpinned by Oxford Brookes' expertise on diversity and inclusion, promoting within the research and innovation landscape.”

The opening of the Enterprise Centre was attended by local and national industry leaders as well as local councillors and MPs, including Anneliese Dodds, Member of Parliament for Oxford East. Industry leaders included Katy Gearing, Head of Industry Engagement at the Royal Society.