Why is Oxford such a great home for tech startups?

Gerard Shields
June 28, 2023

Choosing the best possible location for a new company is a huge challenge, and when it came to our 3D printing and prototyping service, settling on Oxford as a home was no easy decision. All business owners start out with a vision of what the company could become, and uses that to drive the decision-making process at every stage. As the soon-to-be Managing Director of Printpool, I knew that the right location was a critical factor in seeing this vision realised, and we settled on Oxford based on a series of fabulous benefits.

A Central Location

Although Oxford is not positioned centrally in the UK geographically, it does sit neatly in the middle of the diamond formed by London, Birmingham, Bath and Cambridge, which houses a disproportionate number of the most quickly growing technology companies in the country, particularly in motorsport and transport technology. By train, we can be in central London for a meeting in less than an hour, which allows us to serve clients in the capital with ease, while still keeping ‘The North’ in easy reach.

A World-Leading University

Oxford University needs no introduction, and being within two miles of the world’s second oldest university gave us two key resources. One, a steady stream of talented graduates to help the company grow, and two, many hundreds of spinout firms with a ravenous demand for high quality 3D printed parts and prototypes to fuel their innovation. The culture of excellence and drive for new knowledge does rub-off too!

A Brand-New Building

We settled on the Wood Centre for Innovation (WCFI) in Headington as the perfect spot. Alongside other exciting technology companies, we work in a beautiful oasis of calm, surrounded 15 acres of woodland and wildlife, in a state-of-the-art building. There are very few sites, in Oxford or otherwise, where it’s a frequent occurrence to look out and see a curious deer or rabbit on the grass by the window. The threat of climate change is a hugely important issue for us at Printpool, and so we can also sleep easier knowing that WCFI has numerous environmental and energy-saving measures built in such as a passive air-flow system and grass-roof. The 100-seat lecture theatre will allow us to host events disseminating the latest advances in additive manufacturing, and the adjacent Science Oxford centre means that we can play a small part in educating and inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists.

A Culture of Success

A business started in Oxford has a 49% chance of still being operational five-years later, which makes Oxford, statistically, one of the best locations in the country to launch a venture. This is in-part due to the huge levels of business support available, as well as various venture capital firms, angel investor networks, and support grants that new Oxfordshire firms enjoy. Although commercial rents are significantly more expensive in Oxford than in more northern rivals, these connections provide new companies with a strong foundation for growth. There are a number of co-working spaces available in the city centre for freelancers and start-ups also, which provide Printpool with a steady stream of new designs to prototype, and manufacture using 3D printing technologies.

Looking back nearly a year later, we’re delighted that we chose Oxford as our home! If you belong to a fledgling company who is considering launching in Oxfordshire, please get in touch and we’ll do what we can to help.

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