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Partnerships & Industry

A major strategic objective of the Medical Sciences Division is to establish the University of Oxford as a world-leading translational medical science environment and the leading innovation environment in Europe. Oxford has a strong record of translating and commercialising its research outcomes, and has a highly successful innovation track record via successful technology transfer and business development.

We have many teaching and research partnerships with the NHS, industry, medical organisations and charities in the UK and across the world. Some examples are given below.

If you are interested in working in partnership with us, please visit the University’s Partnerships website.

Our Business Development team, Oxford University Innovation and Research Services also offer advice on innovation and industrial partnerships to staff and external organisations.


Outside the John Radcliffe HospitalWe have been working with the NHS in the Thames Valley region for many years, including a long established relationship with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, and in 2013 we signed a Joint Working Agreement with our largest NHS partner, the Oxford University Hospital (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust. Furthermore, our involvement in the Oxford Academic Health Science Centre and the Oxford Academic Health Sciences Network (AHSN) allow us to transcend traditional organisational barriers in order to harness the strengths of industrial, scientific, health-related and academic partners to more effectively address some of the greatest health challenges of the 21st century.

These partnerships offer many tangible benefits:

  • Patients receive high-quality care underpinned by world leading research, often delivered by jointly appointed academic clinicians in co-funded and co-managed specialist units
  • Our medical students gain experience in one of the leading medical centres in the UK, which serves over three million people in the local area in addition to many more national and international patients who are referred to specialist units
  • Through the establishment of the NIHR-funded Oxford Biomedical Research Centre and the Biomedical Research Unit in partnership with OUH NHS Trust, discoveries in basic and applied biomedical research quickly result in improvements in healthcare and medical innovations
  • Together we are better able to deliver major infrastructure developments, such as the planned Precision Cancer Medicine Institute

Industry: Oxford-UCB Alliance

The Oxford-UCB Alliance was established in 2012 as a collaborative research partnership in the areas of inflammation and neuroscience. The alliance was funded initially by a contribution of £3.6 million from UCB to support the first three years of the initiative. The alliance is highly collaborative and is led by a joint steering committee of UCB and Oxford University representatives which helps select and oversee the collaborations as well as providing longer-term strategic guidance of the alliance. The alliance’s success comes through strong leadership; from Oxford’s Regius Professor of Medicine Sir John Bell and UCB’s Head of New Medicines Ismail Kola, also a visiting Professor of Target Discovery at the University.

Each project has a dedicated UCB lead who provides guidance and necessary support to the project through regular meetings and discussion; fostering strong relationships between Oxford and UCB scientists. The divisional Business Development team (link to team page) works in partnership with UCB’s academic alliances team to manage the alliance by supporting the activities of the steering board and individual project leads.

Spin-out company: Nightstar

Nightstar logo

Nightstar was spun-out of the Medical Sciences Division in 2014 and has secured £12 million investment from Syncona, an independent subsidiary of the Wellcome Trust. The company has been formed to develop and commercialise therapies for retinal dystrophies – degenerative conditions that affect vision. Its lead program is a treatment for choroideremia (CHM) which was developed by Professor Robert MacLaren of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences and colleagues, and uses a small modified virus called AAV to deliver the correct version of the CHM gene to cells in the retina of the eye. The medical journal The Lancet reported that, six months after treatment, the first six patients showed improvement in their vision in dim light and two of the six were able to read more lines on a standard eye chart. Professor MacLaren worked closely with colleagues at Oxford University Innovation to secure the investment and set up the company; Oxford University Innovation also provided an exclusive licence to the intellectual property which underpins the choroideremia program.

Interview with Robert MacLaren

£23 million boost for Oxford spinout company