A new venture for the University of Oxford Medical Sciences Division, the BioEscalator was established to provide much-needed high-quality commercial laboratory space for the growing number of healthcare-focused spin-out companies being created by academics and researchers across the University. With its mission of teaching and research at the fore, the University was also keen for the space to be available to all small early-stage biotech start-ups working with University academics and clinicians. The requirement was not just space and shared facilities, but also support and community. Its unique location - between the University’s medical research buildings and Oxford’s main hospitals - facilitates access to the rich mix of expertise, knowledge, and resources available across Oxford and beyond.
The results have been extremely positive. Since the BioEscalator opened its doors in 2018, 24 companies have started their journeys there. Ten of these have been Oxford University spin-outs representing nine different academic departments. The steadily growing community has matured to a diverse mix of biotech SMEs, working on novel diagnostics, therapeutics and platform technologies applicable to a wide range of diseases, including cancer, autoimmune disorders, infectious diseases and metabolic disorders. Three of the companies even pivoted their research to support the fight against covid-19. Nucleome Therapeutics, Alchemab Therapeutics and Hutano Diagnostics all quickly redirected their scientific expertise and business plans to develop new detection methods and discover potential therapeutics. Alchemab was also a member of the BIA Antibody Taskforce.
Despite their infancy, and the challenges of a global pandemic, the BioEscalator companies have been hugely successful at raising funds to support high growth. Over the three years, they have collectively attracted £1.4B, of which £1.2B was raised in the past 12 months. Seven companies have graduated from the BioEscalator, thanks to successful fundraising, and moved on to the next stage in their journey, including two tenants (oncolytic virus developer Theolytics and herbicide innovator MoA Technology), who was among the first to join the BioEscalator community. They are now part of the esteemed alumni community, along with fellow BioEscalator graduates, OMass Therapeutics, MiroBio, EnaraBio and Alchemab. The smaller SMEs continue to grow within the BioEscalator, in many cases moving from a bench or two in the shared Innovation Labs to a proprietary lab and office space as they meet their milestones and recruit new talent. Overall, the BioEscalator has generated over 180 jobs so far.