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Scaling Spin-offs in Biotech: An Insider’s Perspective

Scaling Spin-offs in Biotech: An Insider’s Perspective
Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Scaling up small biotech companies, especially when they are academic spin-offs, can be very difficult, if not seemingly impossible. Ryan Cawood, CEO of spin-off Oxford Genetics, knows a lot about this subject as he has gone through the process himself and shares his experience in this article.

[1] Oxford Genetics was founded by Cawood in 2011 based on his experience at Oxford University when he experienced a lack of efficient DNA design and assembly while completing his Ph.D. in Genetics. As this market gap ended up limiting his scientific progress, Cawood decided to start his own business addressing the need. [2]

Now the company counts on over 90 members of staff and a stable income stream. However, this wasn’t always the case and Cawood spent two years scaling his spin-off into a company capable of hiring employees. [1] One of the main reasons for this success is that Oxford Genetics is responding to an actual market demand—gene and cell therapy, vaccine, and biologics production—with a robotic technology that is able to efficiently complete this processes, reducing costs and human error [3].

Some of the other important takeaways from Cawood’s experience include:

  • Responding to initial development and market needs (Oxford Genetics originally began focused on a different outcome).
  • Being a one-man team when starting out but also willing to choose the best for team continued progress.
  • Developing a business model that is as easy as possible to scale up.
  • Staying positive, even when people around you don’t believe in your vision.

These top tips from Cawood and the other insights he provides into creating a successful academic spin-off can be seen in more depth if you check out this article.