Oxford has the potential to overtake Cambridge

Oxford has the potential to overtake Cambridge

Source: LEP Business Barometer

The majority (64 per cent) of Barometer respondents believe Oxford has the potential to overtake
Cambridge as a global centre for high-tech businesses.

Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) felt their business would benefit in some way from Oxfordshire’s growing reputation
for high-tech excellence.

Professor Peter Dobson OBE, Academic Director at Begbroke Science Park, agrees. So much so that he has thrown his hat
into the ring and offered to lead the march on Cambridge.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Oxford has the potential to overtake Cambridge as a global centre of excellence for high technology
businesses,” Professor Dobson said.

“We have better aligned graduate courses to train our students; Oxford is home to Isis Innovation — one of the best technology transfer offices in the world; Begbroke Science Park is truly supportive and different from anything Cambridge has to offer; we also have Harwell, Culham and Milton Park on our doorstep and the best, world-class research and teaching hospitals.

“However, Cambridge has been far better than Oxford at hyping and promoting its achievements, not just
in the university but in the wider ‘ eco-system’ academics have developed around it.

“Technology translation culture in Cambridge evolved in a very different way to ours. Until recently, Cambridge did not have a centralised organisation like Isis Innovation here in Oxford,” Professor Dobson added.

“Instead, academics in Cambridge owned their IP and from it grew science parks and R&D
consultancies, such as Scientific Generics (now Sagentia) and TTP.

“Many medium-sized companies bought into this activity and relocated to the area.

“In Oxford, we do not yet have the same level of R&D consultancies as they do in Cambridge and this has, to a certain degree, held us back. I also believe we have been slower to realise the importance of innovation within our own university activities,” Professor Dobson said.
“Cambridge has an engineering department that is three times the size of ours and very much aligned to the needs of industry.
“They also have innovation champions who have the ear of their university’s vice-chancellor and Government ministers.

“With the right leadership and vision, I believe Oxford has what it takes to win the race to the top.”

• Professor Dobson is a lecturer on Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Oxford and Cambridge universities.