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Success Breeds Success At Oxford Bioincubator

The highly successful bioincubator, the Oxford BioBusiness Centre, is proving a fertile breeding ground for some of the country's leading-edge biotechnology companies. The BioBusiness Centre provides laboratories and offices on flexible terms, communal facilities such as cleanup, tissue culture and sample storage, business support and access to a very strong and ever-broadening network of mentors and advisors.

One company to benefit from the Centre's facilities is Oxford Immunotec Ltd., an international clinical diagnostics company with headquarters in Oxford. The company's revolutionary test for tuberculosis not only radically improves the speed and accuracy with which the disease can be identified, it also makes it possible to identify carriers of the infection.

In the last 10 years, 88 million people contracted TB and 30 million died from it. The World Health organisation has declared TB a 'Global Emergency'.

Oxford Immunotec's test is based on patented technology from discoveries by Dr Ajit Lalvani of the University of Oxford.

Dr Peter Wrighton-Smith, CEO of Oxford Immunotec said: 'Finding fully-equipped laboratories for rent on flexible terms is very difficult in Oxford and finding a support package to match harder still. Establishing the company in the BioBusiness Centre made the startup process immeasurably easier and enabled us to hit the ground running.'

Such has been the success of two of the companies that both have just graduated to larger facilities in Oxford.

One of the companies is award-winning BioAnalab Ltd, which last week scooped Best New Startup Laboratory at the prestigious Laboratory News Industry Awards in London.   BioAnalab is developing tests to enhance the safety and utility of new therapeutics, particularly monoclonal antibodies; these are a rapidly growing sector of the pharmaceutical industry. The drugs are among the most effective new treatments for a wide range of diseases and provide many fresh challenges, including the need to develop methods to measure drug levels, patient responses and efficacy.

CEO Bruce Savage is a serial entrepreneur who founded biotechnology company Cytocell in 1992 and was recently a finalist in the Oxfordshire Business Person of the Year Awards.

Mr Savage said: 'The Oxford BioBusiness Centre provides a really comprehensive package of premises and business support and the management team is not only very knowledgeable, but go out of their way to help. It makes starting and growing a business like mine so much easier. When I founded Cytocell over 10 years ago, facilities like this were non-existent and we had to use my garage as an office!'

Oxfordshire BiotechNet's Managing Director Nigel Wild is delighted with the success of the BioBusiness Centre and the companies within it. He said: 'Until the recent graduations, we were 100% full with 14 tenant companies. So far, all our clients have been in pharmaceutical biotechnology, but our latest 'recruit', Green Biologics Ltd, is an environmental biotech company researching the microbial production of fuels and chemicals from renewable sources.'

'Demand for space remains strong, both from existing tenants needing to expand and from new startups. The undoubted attraction is our comprehensive package of facilities and support, allied to an extremely powerful cluster effect. Growing companies is our business.'

Oxford Centre For Innovation. November 2003.

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