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

The investment firm which backs start-ups created from academic research at Oxford University is parting ways with its chief executive just months after raising £250million.

Sky News has learned that Alexis Dormandy, who joined Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE) just two years ago, is due to step down shortly.

Two sources said Mr Dormandy had effectively been forced out of office, although the reasons for his departure 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, formerly 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 has First Light, the nuclear fusion energy start-up, and Animal Dynamics, a high-tech company, in 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 top rookie to lead OSE in 2020, having started his career with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, where he helped launch Virgin Mobile and Virgin Active.

He then joined Orange, the mobile telephone network, then took part in the management of Candover, a European investment fund.

Mr Dormandy was also European chairman of RED, the AIDS charity founded by U2 singer Bono.

OSE has a list of blue chip investors considered to rival any comparable vehicle in the world.

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

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

The company went through a period of turbulence in terms of management turnover, with several presidents and senior executives resigning in a short time.

Co-founded by Alex Snow, the famous City boss who now runs Sensyne, OSE is said to be aiming to recruit a successor by spring.

Other start-ups she has backed or created include Osler, a blood diagnostics company, and Bibliu, a digital textbook platform.

This year, two of its portfolio companies – MiroBio and DJS Antibodies – were sold to global pharmaceutical companies for a combined consideration of $655 million.

OSE has also signed an agreement with property company Lothbury to develop state-of-the-art R&D facilities in Oxford city center

A spokesperson for the OSE declined to comment.

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