Oxford Biomedica is committed to delivering life-changing cell and gene therapies to patients in an ethical and responsible way. This will be achieved by practicing and delivering ethical, relevant and sustainable innovation. The Innovation pillar has three key strategic aims:
- To ensure all research and innovation by the Group maintains the highest ethical standards;
- To deliver innovation that is relevant and understandable so its implications can be easily assessed; and
- To foster and encourage a culture of innovation to build a sustainable future for the Group and the wider community
Ethics in R&D
Oxford Biomedica is committed to achieving the highest ethical standards has historically been embedded in all research and development activities and has continued to shape Oxford Biomedica’s platform innovation in 2021. This objective underpins Oxford Biomedica’s overall ESG mission to deliver life-changing gene therapies to patients in an ethical and socially responsible way.
An ethical review process for the New Technology and New Product Committees has been drafted and will be implemented in 2022. Ethical review already takes place as part of Oxford Biomedica’s review of research and innovation activities, however this represents a formalised inclusion of ethical review considerations. In 2022, an additional focus of the New Technology Committee will be on identifying and prioritising innovation around process intensification to produce therapeutic viral vectors in sufficient quantities to meet clinical and commercial demands in a more economical and environmentally sustainable way.
Deliver innovation that is relevant and understandable so its implications can be easily assessed
In 2020, Oxford Biomedica developed three new tools for innovation to aid the innovation process. During the course of 2021, Oxford Biomedica implemented these tools:
- A technology roadmap designed to ensure the smooth and timely progression of new technologies to commercialisation;
- A new technology profile (NTP) to document the key stages and decision points of the technology development process; and
- A decision matrix scoring which will evaluate promising technologies and to officially transition them to governance by the New Technology Committee.
These tools have been used to prioritise and expedite the process of commercialising new programmes and technologies and allow Oxford Biomedica to track the development process with greater clarity and granularity. This has resulted in the formation of coordinated cross functional project teams focused on the delivery of technologies from research and development to commercial application.
Foster and encourage a culture of innovation to build a sustainable future for the Group and the wider community
In 2021, Oxford Biomedica continued to work with In2Science who help children from disadvantaged backgrounds enter STEM subjects in higher education. Oxford Biomedica sponsored five students during the year with employees also participating in mentoring sessions to offer insights and guidance on pursuing a career in STEM industries.
Oxford Biomedica has committed to support PhD studentships through the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP) in Advanced Bioscience of Viral Products (ABViP). This multidisciplinary training programme will help foster the next generation of bioscience leaders and advance research in the area of viral vectors for future gene therapies and vaccines. The programme is led by Oxford Biomedica and involves both UCL and University of Oxford as academic institutions. Over the course of three years, 24 students will start on the ABViP CTP (18 CTP-funded studentships, six partner-funded studentships).
The primary focus of the Group’s ESG innovation objectives for 2022 will be on continuing to foster and encourage a culture of innovation to build a sustainable future for Oxford Biomedica and the wider community. Oxford Biomedica intends to continue to support outreach programmes such as In2Science, to promote STEM careers as a viable route for school children from demographics that have a low representation in higher education, particularly in STEM subjects. Oxford Biomedica is also committed to ensuring the BBSRC CTP programme is a success and fully engage with academic partners and the research council to ensure the best support is provided for the next generation of research leaders coming through the programme.