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Spin-offs from university science

“Spin-off companies, or spin-out companies as the British call them, have become an important source of funding for British universities and a significant source of income for at least a few British academics over the past 20 years. Companies spun off from Oxford University?s chemistry department, for example, have contributed more than $110 million (£80 million) to the university?s funds since the 1980s.

Richards uses Oxford Molecular as a case study to illustrate how a company can be spun off from a university science department. The book provides a blow-by-blow account of the history of the company from its inception in the 1980s through its start-up with venture capital, its successful flotation, its acquisitions of other companies, and its eventual demise in 2000.

Although the book focuses on spin-offs from British universities, and particularly the Oxford University model for technology transfer, it should appeal to academics, universities, and potential investors in spin-offs in other countries. Much of the guidance offered in the book is widely applicable.

Spin-Outs is clearly written, informative, and entertaining. And at just eight chapters, it is not long. One chapter provides a brief history of spin-offs, and another offers some guidelines for starting a spin-off company. The other chapters focus principally on technology transfer at Oxford University. Two of these are devoted to Oxford Molecular and another to IP Group.”

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