A step towards the analysis of anything, by anyone, anywhere: The Oxford Nanopore IPO

Oxford Nanopore’s co-founder and CEO Dr Gordon Sanghera describes why the company’s IPO was both “timely and natural” and supports the company’s ambitious growth plans.

"Oxford Nanopore’s listing highlights the key role the UK capital markets play in supporting globally leading life science and technology companies. At their most dynamic, capital markets connect those with capital to those seeking capital to drive growth and innovation. Whilst the numbers in an IPO matter, the purpose behind the numbers is perhaps most important, exemplified by Oxford Nanopore’s ambition to create technologies that ‘enable the analysis of anything, by anyone, anywhere’, making all of our lives healthier and better."

Julia Hoggett, CEO, London Stock Exchange plc.



An interactive session with Dr Gordon Sanghera, Chief Executive Officer, Oxford Nanopore Technologies plc

From the time of being a spin-out from Oxford University, was an IPO always part of the strategic vision for the organisation?

It feels like a story of three parts so far: the early years of fundamental research and early development; then the further development of a platform that we could manufacture, ship and support; and then the first steps into the technology being used in the scientific community. We feel we are still in the foothills. So far have only developed the platform for sequencing DNA – we have protein analysis in our sights too.

We think in the long term, about global transformational trends. We envisage an internet of living things, where biological systems can be understood in real time to overcome real world challenges using an interconnected network of sensors.

The IPO is a natural transition for this business and we're very excited to grow the company to the next level.

An IPO is a milestone for Oxford Nanopore, but there have been many pivotal moments in the company’s development. Which key moments do you feel are the most important?

We’ve had many milestone moments on the way to reaching this point but releasing our first product – the handheld MinION DNA/RNA sequencer - to early access users in 2014 was a key one. We made a specific choice to make a smaller, lower cost sequencing device and to make it accessible to the broadest range of users possible – when we could have followed a more well-trodden path of selling expensive, large devices to centralised labs.

It was the start of a rapid journey of development in collaboration with the scientific user community, and we’ve been able to make improvements to our products because of that feedback ever since. Feedback from our users has been crucial in the evolution of the technology to date and will continue to be in the future.

Opening our factory in Harwell in summer 2019 was also critical. We invest in innovation in R&D, but also in manufacturing – where improved processes can result in better product that is easier to make at scale.  We also designed our factory to look like our MinION sequencer – why not?

The company has already raised money as a private company. From the perspective of raising patient capital, what are the advantages of becoming a public company?

We’re looking forward to working with investors from a broader pool of international capital, as we drive the long-term growth of the company. The IPO is a timely and natural progression for Oxford Nanopore.

Oxford Nanopore sells into over 100 countries. How will the IPO help the company in accessing new markets and customers?

We have said that we are investing across many areas – continuing to drive innovation so we can deliver the best breakthrough products to our global community of users; expansion of our customer-facing teams, so that we can connect with more scientists, in more countries, and speak to them about how we can help solve their problems; and of course manufacturing and other operations, to make sure we can make the best products and ship them… anywhere.

What are you most proud of in your time with Oxford Nanopore?

I'm very proud of all our customers, whose applications of the technology never cease to amaze me. We've seen people play vital roles in human disease, including cancer research and tracking of infectious diseases, as well as for improving crop production and tackling climate change.

DNA information can help to solve many global challenges. There is huge innovation in scientific discovery in genomics today and I’m extremely proud that we have developed a new generation of DNA analysis tools to help enable this.

Every time a new publication comes out that uses nanopore sequencing to make a new biological discovery, I am reminded that we are here to help other people have key moments, too.  Since 2014 we’ve seen the technology used in more than 100 countries, and as a result, more than 2000 scientific papers have been published.

The amount of determination and creativity in the Nanopore team – we call them NanoCore – makes me proud every day.

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