Oxford Nanopore Technologies® was spun out from the University of Oxford in 2005. Until May 2008, the company was named Oxford NanoLabs Ltd. Oxford Nanopore employs a team of more than 150 people including scientists, engineers, informaticians, manufacturing and commercial specialists. Headquartered in Oxford, UK, the Company also has employees in Cambridge (UK), New York and Boston.
The company was founded by Dr Gordon Sanghera, Dr Spike Willcocks and Professor Hagan Bayley, who is currently Professor of Chemical Biology at the University of Oxford, with seed funding from IP Group plc. Since 2008 the Company has also been working with a wider Technology Advisory Board including collaborators at Harvard, Boston University and the University of California Santa Cruz. Oxford Nanopore has a strong intellectual property position for the use of nanopores in molecular analysis and specifically DNA sequencing.
In 2005, Dr Gordon Sanghera joined Oxford Nanopore as CEO. Gordon brings his experience of combining biological and electronic technologies; he previously delivered blood glucose-sensing products to the market, a technology that has transformed the lives of diabetes patients worldwide. Gordon now leads an experienced management team towards the development and commercialisation of a new gold-standard in DNA-sequencing products.
In 2008, Dr John Milton and Clive G. Brown joined the executive management team, bringing previous experience of having developed the current world-leading DNA sequencing system at Solexa.
In July 2009, the Company relocated to the Oxford Science Park. Our premises at Edmund Cartwright House were inaugurated by the UK Science and Innovation Minister, Lord Drayson. In 2011, an additional 7,000 square feet on the Oxford Science Park was opened and a new Cambridge office was also opened as an informatics outstation.
In February 2012 at the AGBT conference, Oxford Nanopore presented a variety of nanopore DNA 'strand sequencing' and protein-analysis data, and an overview of the hardware and software behind the GridION™ and MinION™ systems. These data included genomes that had been sequenced using the Company's technology over the sense and antisense strands, showing tens of kilobases in single reads. This was the first nanopore sequence data to be shown worldwide since the technique was first theoretically proposed in 1996.
The Company is now entering a customer-collaboration phase for the MinION, in advance of full commercialisation. In October 2014, at the ASHG conference, the PromethION was presented for the first time. PromethION is a tablet-sized benchtop instrument giving users the choice of the number of samples and the number of nanopores being used for a particular experiment, ranging from individual samples at a time to multiple samples in parallel.
To date, the Company has raised £180 million in eight rounds of private funding, from a combination of private and institutional investors. The Company does not have traditional Venture Capital investment, instead the investor profile more closely mirrors that seen in publicly listed companies.
Seed funding was obtained in two rounds, from IP Group in 2005. In June 2006 and March 2008, the company raised £7.75m and £10m, respectively.
In January 2009 the Company announced an $18m (£11.9m) investment from Illumina and a separate commercialisation agreement for the Company's exonuclease sequencing technology. In this round, an additional £2.1m was raised from other sources.
In February 2010 Oxford Nanopore raised £17.4m and in April 2011 the Company raised £25m from existing and new institutional and independent investors based in the UK and US.
In May 2012 the Company raised £31.4m from existing investors. The Company raised a further £40m and £35m from new and existing investors in October 2013 and August 2014, respectively.