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Oxford University spinouts chief leaves months after £250m share sale

Oxford University spinouts chief leaves months after £250m share sale

Alexis Dormandy is to step down as chief executive of Oxford Science Enterprises just two years after joining amid rumours of tensions at the academic spinout investor.
The investment company which backs start-ups created from Oxford University’s academic research is parting company with its chief executive just months after raising £250m.

Sky News has learnt that Alexis Dormandy, who joined Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE) just two years ago, is to step down imminently.
Two sources said that Mr Dormandy had effectively been forced out of the role,

although the reasons for his exit were unclear on Thursday, and an OSE spokesman declined to comment.

Headhunters have been hired to identify Mr Dormandy's successor, the sources added.

OSE, which used to be called Oxford Sciences Innovation, is an investor in dozens of companies, including Vaccitech, which created the biotech platform behind AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine.

It also counts First Light, the nuclear fusion energy start-up, and Animal Dynamics, a deep-tech company, among its portfolio.

This week, OSE announced a merger between OxfordVR, a specialist in virtual reality treatments for serious mental illnesses, and BehaVR, a digital wellness start-up.

OSE raised £250m in a rights issue in July,

Mr Dormandy was a prominent recruit to run OSE in 2020, having started his career at Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, where he helped to launch Virgin Mobile and Virgin Active.

He subsequently joined Orange, the mobile phone network, and then helped to run Candover, a European private equity firm.

Mr Dormandy has also served as European chairman of RED, the AIDS charity founded by U2's lead singer, Bono.

OSE has a roster of blue-chip group of investors regarded as rivalling any comparable vehicle in the world.

Among its publicly disclosed shareholders are Google Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Temasek Holdings, the Singaporean state fund.

Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecoms technology giant, is also a shareholder.

The company has endured a turbulent period in terms of management churn, with several chairs and senior executives quitting in a short space of time.

Co-founded by Alex Snow, the well-known City executive who now runs Sensyne, OSE is understood to be targeting the recruitment of a successor by the spring.

Among the other start-ups it has backed or created are Osler, a blood diagnostics venture, and Bibliu, a digital textbooks platform.

This year, two of its portfolio companies - MiroBio and DJS Antibodies - have been sold to global pharmaceutical companies for a combined consideration of $655m.

OSE has also signed an agreement with the property firm Lothbury to develop state of the art R&D facility in Oxford city centre

A spokesman for OSE declined to comment.

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