DESPITE fears over Brexit, there have been skyrocketing levels of investment in Oxford University spin-out companies.

Since 2011, Oxford companies have raised just short of £1.9bn in external fundraising and £506m of this has been generated over the past 12 months alone.

There has been major growth in the sector in the past few years, with a full third of the 160 spin-out companies Oxford University Innovation has created over its 30-year history formed since 2015.

OUI, the university’s research and expertise commercialisation company, based in Botley, appointed Dr Matt Perkins as its new chief executive officer in October 2016.

With a background in the space industry, Dr Perkins previously worked as group CEO of SSTL, a University of Surrey spin-out, and as president of the space imaging division at e2v Technologies.

As chairman of the UK Industry Association for Space from 2013-2014, he worked closely with the UK Space Agency, Innovate UK and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and in his executive roles he achieved greater awareness for innovative high-technology companies within government and the public sphere.

Dr Perkins is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and has a BSc and PhD in electronic and electrical engineering from the University of Leeds.

He said: “We’re currently in the middle of a renovation, both in terms of our internal decorating and in what OUI does as an entity.

“We’ve updated our vision, mission, strategy and corporate goals – placing impact right at the centre of what we do.

“Our incubator offer is changing with a new deal on equity that’s seen our new incubator manager’s inbox swamped.

“We’ll soon be unveiling a new commercialisation option geared towards our colleagues in humanities and social sciences divisions.

“We’re fully behind the proposed clarification on student Intellectual Property which will help students feel secure that they can innovate with the full support of the university and keep their ideas.

“All of this and more is going towards our new goal of creating a world-leading innovation ecosystem with Oxford University at its heart.”

Dr Perkins said Oxford University companies raised £41.3m during the second quarter of 2018 over 20 deals.

The total in external funding raised by Oxford University spin-outs since 2011 now stands at £1.89bn, £506m of which was funding raised over the past year, an increase of 40 per cent since July 2017.

OUI launched three new spin-outs in the past three months, bringing the year’s total up to nine.

They are Arago Biosciences, Oxford HighQ, which makes quantum-era sensors, and Oxhex, which uses 3D-printed honeycomb helmet technology.

In October last year, Apple boss Tim Cook visited the city to open a new entrepreneurial hub at Oxford University.

The Oxford Foundry, on the site of the former Wahoo nightclub in Hythe Bridge Street, has been designed to build a community of innovation across the university.

It is a key location for students to generate ideas and initiatives that address business and societal issues.

They are encouraged to play a major role in designing and leading activities.

At the time the hub opened the university had produced more founders of ‘unicorn businesses’ (a technology company with a valuation of more than $1bn) than any other in Europe.

The Oxford Foundry is also supporting the institution to continue translating academic research into innovative products.

Building on the success and popularity of the Oxford Launchpad at Saїd Business School, which is home to the Entrepreneurship Centre and Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, the Oxford Foundry was initiated and developed by Oxford Saїd for the benefit of the whole of the university.

It is housed in a renovated Victorian ice factory and is spread over two floors.

It offers co-working space, presentation areas, and a café at ground level - enabling entrepreneurially-minded people to meet, collaborate, create new ventures, or build the skills to bring innovation into their careers.

Upstairs there is an incubator space for accelerating new ventures. In June at the Oxford Foundry a new programme, L.E.V8 Women, was launched to help women take on leadership roles in industry. The programme was launched by centre director Ana Bakshi. She said earlier: “Being taken seriously as a woman in a board room or in investor meetings is definitely still a challenge.”