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Oxford Early Investments celebrates Successful First Year of Fundraising
New Manager Appointed

Oxford Early Investments (OEI), a business angel network which specialises in raising finance for very early stage companies, is celebrating a successful first year of operations that has seen the network help a range of high growth businesses secure the funding needed to bring their products to market. The first anniversary coincides with the recent appointment of Joanna Sobek as the new manager for OEI.

OEI was established by Oxford Innovation to build on the success of Oxfordshire Investment Opportunity Network (OION) which regularly closes deals from £150,000 to £2 million. OEI complements OION by helping innovative companies at the very early stages of technical and commercial development raise investment capital from £20,000 to £150,000.

During the past year, the OEI Network has brokered deals for several developing companies, including Water Innovate, a spin-out from the School of Water Sciences at Cranfield University established to bring innovative ideas from research in the water and wastewater sectors to market. In June, Water Innovate raised a total of £565,000 – of which £193,000 was secured from a syndicate of business angels including OEI members, who invested alongside NESTA, an investor member and sponsor of OEI, and Oxford Technology 4 VCT.

John Catling, Executive Chairman of Water Innovate, said: “The OEI Network provides an ideal forum for very early stage companies seeking funding at a level that is beyond friends, family and the bank but below the radar screen of venture capitalists. The presentation was well-organised and OEI’s manager did a very professional job in helping to match us with appropriate investors so that we could raise the vital finance we need to take our technologies to market.”

Other companies that have successfully used the Network include NanoSight, a Salisbury-based nanotechnology company which sought £150,000 through OEI but raised £250,000 in a funding round led by Strathdon Investments, an OEI member, who have a one-year option to invest a further £250,000. NanoSight’s technology can be used to analyse nanoparticles and molecular structures for a range of industries including electronics, biotechnology, cosmetics and energy. The company’s customers include BASF, Seagate and Micro Emissive Displays as well as the universities of Birmingham, Liverpool and Surrey.

At the other end of the scale, Zeta Studios, a software development company based in Cherwell Innovation Centre, Oxfordshire, raised £15,000 through the Network. Zeta Studios makes a web-based product to manage regulatory information for hospitals.

Ms Sobek, who is an Oxford University graduate, said: “OEI was set up to meet investor demand for very early stage investment opportunities, and to help companies that need small but crucial sums to develop their product beyond an initial “proof of concept” – often the most difficult stage of company growth to fund. The Network has now established a track record for filling this gap in the market and I look forward to building on OEI’s success during 2006.”

The next meeting of Oxford Early Investments is on 7 February 2006.

Joanna Sobek, the new Manager of Oxford Early Investments, which recently marked a successful first year of helping very early stage companies to raise finance.

1. Oxford Early Investments (OEI)
Press enquiries to: Margaret Henry, PR Manager.
Tel: +44 (0)1865 811199 E-mail:

Founded in November 2004, Oxford Early Investments is a business angel network that helps early stage companies raise funding from £20,000 to £150,000 by matching them with investors (business angels) who often provide management input as well as capital. Investment meetings, where selected companies pitch their business proposals to investors, are held every two months.

OEI is managed by Oxford Innovation (, the UK’s leading operator of innovation centre pre

Publisher Contact Information:

Oxford Early Investments
+44 (0)1865 811199

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