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Welsh Government Teams up With Oxford Innovation

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Oxford Innovation has been appointed by the Welsh Government to deliver a new programme that will assist start-up and early stage life sciences firms with high growth potential to grow more rapidly over the next three years.

The High Potential Starts programme is a key component of the Welsh Government’s strategy to support sustainable high growth businesses. The programme is jointly funded by the Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund.

The programme will see Oxford Innovation’s team of advisors and coaches based across Wales working with entrepreneurs who are forming new companies and the management teams of early stage businesses. Support will be available for firms in the biosciences, medical devices and diagnostics fields and associated supply chain technologies such as electronics, engineering, advanced material science and logistics.

The objective is to create new high value added businesses and help early stage firms expand into major companies, generating sustainable local employment and further cementing the position of Wales’ burgeoning life sciences industry.

Services provided by Oxford Innovation will include:
•    coaching and mentoring delivered by experienced coaches who have worked at board level in growing companies
•    advice on intellectual property protection and exploitation
•    support with business planning and marketing
•    access to sources of funding and introductions to potential investors
•    workshops on business and technical topics relevant to life science firms
•    access to business and knowledge networks

Oxford Innovation is a leader in business support and mentoring programmes for start-up and growing companies. These include successful high growth programmes for thousands of entrepreneurs and businesses across Cornwall, the West Midlands and South East of England that provide bespoke support for life sciences firms, as well as the management of the first national biotechnology incubator in Saudi Arabia.

The company also manages three investment networks that help companies to secure funding and a network of 20 innovation centres that provide a supportive environment for over 500 early stage businesses.

Wales Business Minister, Edwina Hart, said: “This programme represents a significant investment in the development of business potential and will support our most dynamic businesses and entrepreneurs to help them grow and prosper, creating high quality jobs and boosting the economy.”

The life sciences industry in Wales continues to grow and it is estimated that there are more than 300 companies employing over 15,000 people and contributing around £1.3 billion to the economy, ranging from multi-nationals such as GE Healthcare, Johnson & Johnson and Siemens, to early stage and growing firms offering expertise in medical technologies, diagnostics, wound healing and bioscience research, and key enabling technologies such as electronics and engineering.

Microvisk Technologies is a classic example of a life sciences company that has already benefited from Welsh Government support to facilitate growth and is fast becoming a success story for Wales. The firm is located at St Asaph Business Park where it has expanded to 25 employees and established a manufacturing facility.

Microvisk’s handheld devices to monitor blood clotting capacity can be used by patients at home as well as clinicians to establish the correct dosage of anti-coagulation medication such as Warfarin. They are set for market launch in Europe and the US this year.

Dr Treve Willis, programme director and joint managing director of Innovation Services at Oxford Innovation, said: “Oxford Innovation is delighted to have the opportunity to work with entrepreneurs and growing life sciences firms across Wales. We want to build on Wales’s strengths in life sciences and work closely with local and regional partners, as well as creating linkages for the exciting companies here with contacts and networks elsewhere. Our ambition is that the new High Potential Starts programme should provide a significant boost to the growth prospects for many companies that are crucial to the growth of the Welsh economy.”

Dr Chris Sheehan, Oxford Innovation’s programme manager, said: “The High Potential Starts programme is targeted at entrepreneurs and early stage businesses with innovative products or services. With our packages of hands-on workshops, intensive coaching, access to finance and innovative business development tools we can offer practical support to these fast growing companies. I welcome enquiries from entrepreneurs and managers of companies interested in finding out more about how we can assist.”