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First Oxbridge spin-out takes new R&D space at Wood Centre for Innovation

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First Oxbridge spin-out takes new R&D lab space at The Oxford Trust’s Wood Centre for Innovation. Image: Simon Jones, CEO, and Dr Bernard Wenger, CTO, from Helio Display Technologies outside the Wood Centre for Innovation
First Oxbridge spin-out takes new R&D lab space at The Oxford Trust’s Wood Centre for Innovation. Image: Simon Jones, CEO, and Dr Bernard Wenger, CTO, from Helio Display Technologies outside the Wood Centre for Innovation

Helio Display Materials, the first joint Oxford and Cambridge university spin-out, has taken 3,266 sq ft (303 sq m) of R&D laboratory and office space at The Oxford Trust’s Wood Centre for Innovation in Headington.

Helio Display Materials was founded by Professor Henry Snaith FRS, also the founder of the successful Oxford PV, and Professor Sir Richard Friend FRS FREng. Both are leaders in perovskite technology. The company has recently completed a £3.5 million funding round led by Longwall Venture Partners and BGF.

Helio Display Materials uses innovations based on the outstanding properties of metal halide perovskites to create materials for a new generation of brighter, more colourful displays that use significantly less power.

The application of the technology for LCD, OLED and µLED displays enables increased brightness, colour range and power efficiencies that were previously thought unachievable at industrial scale.

Aerial view of the Wood Centre for Innovation in Headington, Oxford
Aerial view of The Oxford Trust’s The Wood Centre for Innovation in Headington

Simon Jones, chief executive officer, Helio Display Materials, said: “I have been deeply impressed by the professional and flexible response of the Wood Centre for Innovation team to Helio’s specialist requirements.

“Working together, we are creating the perfect home for Helio’s next exciting phase of accelerated product development. It’s hugely valuable that the Wood Centre for Innovation is there for companies like Helio and I look forward to being part of the active community of technology start-ups that they have created.”

Helio Display Materials is one of eight companies to take space following a two-phase £1 million high spec laboratory conversion project at the Wood Centre for Innovation which has seen a total of 9,500 sq ft of office space converted into bioscience and deep tech facilities in response to the unprecedented demand from science and tech start-ups wanting to be based in Oxford.

The conversion project has been helped by £0.3 million of support from the Government’s Local Growth Fund, secured by Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Phase 1 has attracted stellar companies, including DJS Antibodies, Samsara Therapeutics, Human Centric DD, and LabMedExpert.

In Phase 2, the remaining space has been taken by two companies.

The University of Oxford spin-out, OxDX Ltd – which is creating instant disease diagnostics using super-resolution microscopy and machine learning. OXDX has recently announced a £2.6 million pre-seed fundraise to develop their AI-powered rapid diagnostic technology. The funds will support the expansion of their team and further validation of their novel technology and ultimately help improve the cost and access to infectious disease diagnostic worldwide.

RedShiftBio (RedShift BioAnalytics) provides next-generation platform technology enabling measurements of previously undetectable structure changes in biomolecules through a powerful new analytical technique, Microfluidic Modulation Spectroscopy (MMS). RedShiftBio’s flagship instrument, the AQS3pro, provides in-depth structural information in a single automated analysis, enabling users to detect pivotal changes in molecular structure that affect the critical quality attributes governing the safety, efficacy, and stability of biomolecules and their raw materials.

These latest companies to join the Trust’s community of science and tech start-ups will mean that both the Trust’s innovation centres – the Wood Centre for Innovation in Headington and the Oxford Centre for Innovation in the city centre – are almost at full occupancy with 40 high technology, software and support companies.

Steve Burgess, chief executive officer, The Oxford Trust, said: “We warmly welcome Helio Display Materials as a shining example of an Oxbridge spin-out collaboration, and indeed all our new customers and their staff.

“It is thanks to OxLEP for securing the second tranche of national government funding – alongside the Trust’s significant own investment – that we have been able to accelerate lab provision at our Wood Centre for Innovation that will give early-stage companies the opportunities they need to achieve their potential. It is a real endorsement of what we do to have the first and second phases of our lab development supported by the Local Growth Fund.

“We now offer a complete range of spaces in our two innovation centres from virtual offices and co-working to grade A office space and class II life science laboratory facilities to support science and tech start-ups focused on R&D on their journey to success.”

OxLEP, the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, is one of 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships in England playing a key role in driving forward economic growth. The Local Growth Fund allows LEPs to use their local knowledge to promote growth in their individual regions. Analysis has shown that for every £1 of Local Growth Fund invested, £4.81 in benefits could be generated.

Since its launch in 2011, OxLEP has secured around £1bn-worth of investment for the Oxfordshire economy, supporting the creation of around 65,000 new jobs between 2011 and 2019, itself representing over two-thirds of a 2031 target of 85,600 new jobs.

In total, OxLEP now oversees a £3.1bn growth programme for Oxfordshire.

Nigel Tipple, chief executive of OxLEP, said: “Confirmation of Helio Display Materials’ move to the Wood Centre for Innovation further demonstrates the strength of Oxfordshire’s innovation ecosystem and how the investment, secured by OxLEP, is being utilised successfully by The Oxford Trust and supporting their significant ambitions.

“Over the past two years, the county’s globally significant innovation ecosystem has demonstrated its international standing and has had a monumental impact, particularly in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope this funding will help to continue to build on this position of strength and – in this instance – create solutions to help drive us to a cleaner, more sustainable future.”

Bulb Laboratories is overseeing the development of the phase 2 laboratory space at the Wood Centre for Innovation, Following the successful development of phase 1.

The Trust’s two innovation centres are managed by Oxford Innovation, a spin-out from The Oxford Trust and the UK’s leading operator of innovation centres.

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