The Creative Destructive Lab (CDL), a new business centre which opened in the Saïd Business School, will be funded by Research England and promises to create 4,000 UK jobs and raise £1 billion in private finance. Oxford CDL will support hundreds of science-based early-stage startups, with a specific focus on artificial intelligence, healthy ageing, alternative energy, and quantum technologies.

According to the CDL website, the program “is an objectives-based program for massively scalable, seed-stage science- and technology-based companies.” 

Research England, a part of UK Research and Innovation, claims the project will support 225 UK businesses and aims to raise £225 million in capital in addition to generating £900 million in equity value. 

“The scheme will help transform some of the UK’s pioneering research ideas into viable products, improving the UK’s entrepreneurial and finance ecosystem, and build on international best practice,” states Research England.

Oxford CDL aims to bring the best international practices for creating and supporting startups to the UK. The program brings a Silicon-valley mindset and approach to funding and encouraging startups. The startups are paired with successful mentors, including entrepreneurs, investors, scientists and business professors – including Google’s former Chief Financial Officer, Patrick Pichette; Elizabeth Caley, Chief of Staff at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; and Shivon Zilis, Project Director at Elon Musk’s Neuralink.

Chris Skidmore, UK Science and Innovation minister, said the Research England investment “draws in Silicon Valley expertise and business knowledge to inspire the next generation of UK entrepreneurs to create the technologies of the future.”

Skidmore said, “This innovation Hub – the first in Europe – will help our start-ups get the support they need to take their ideas to market and scale up their businesses.”

Referencing the success of the postgraduates who created Google, Skidmore said he hoped CDL would foster the same ingenuity and success among world-class UK researchers.

Of the collaboration with Research England, Patrick Pichette of Inovia Capital, Google’s former Chief Financial Officer, and Founding Partner of CDL-Oxford, said, “The CDL is a fantastic transition point for UK scientists, academics and developers coming out of the university setting. Productising research can be hard — so it’s really rewarding to help with mentoring and funding their first steps in the business world. Research England will be a great partner in helping build a new generation of tech leadership here in England.”

According to a recent report published by Research England, the UK is a world leader in research commercialization. Research England states that Oxford CDL will build upon this success through cooperation between university researchers and commercial startups.

The Oxford location for CDL allows the centre to be in close proximity to innovation hubs in London. Research England said “The University of Oxford is an important leader and convenor for CDL in the UK given its international brand necessary and capacity attract high quality North American partners, and it has developed its own highly dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem. The university has formed more spin-out companies than any other UK university and now has over 160.”

Oxford CDL is the first European location for the lab. CDL has also run successful programs in the United States and Canada. Since its establishment in 2012, companies that have participated in CDL programs have created over £2 billion in equity value. Such companies include North (Waterloo), Atomwise (San Francisco), Deep Genomics (Toronto), Automat (Montreal), Kyndi (Palo Alto) and Heuritech (Paris).

The first cohort of businesses began the program in September 2019 and a second cohort session took place on January 24.


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