Google Ventures’ European branch has invested in Oxford Sciences Innovation PLC, a company that funds spinoffs from Oxford University’s tech and science departments, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.
Google Ventures is Google’s fund for early-stage tech investments. The investment in OSI is Google Ventures’ second in Europe since it was set up in July 2014.
Google Ventures and Oxford Sciences Innovation didn’t return a request for comment.
Announced in May this year, Oxford Sciences Innovation said it would be seeking to raise an initial £300 million ($476 million), with £210 million in funding already committed by other investors.
The money poured into OSI would be used to fund startups spun out of the research conducted at the university’s mathematical, physical, life-sciences and medical-sciences divisions.
OSI works in tandem with Isis Innovation, the university’s internal technology-commercialization division, which spins out a new tech company about every two months.
Until now, tech companies spun off from the university and which needed bigger funding rounds—in the region of £30 million to£40 million—struggled to raise that kind of money in Europe. With OSI and its backing by the likes of Google Ventures, these types of companies might find it easier to grow much faster, the person said.
Some of the latest startups to emerge from the 850-year-old university include Oxbotica, a robotics and self-driving-vehicle engineering firm spun out of the university’s Mobile Robotics Group in late 2014, and Oxford BioChronometrics, a company that fights online identity fraud by deciding if an online interaction is being conducted by a human or a software program trying to deceive a system.
Google, through its artificial-intelligence acquisition DeepMind, last year acquired two AI companies spun out of Oxford: Dark Blue Labs and Vision Factory. Google DeepMind also made a “substantial contribution” to establish a research partnership with the university’s computer-science and engineering departments, Google said in a statement at the time.