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Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Scientific spin-outs

Invitation to come on an ABSW site visit, 18 June 2008

An invitation to visit the labs of two spin-out companies based in Milton Park near Abingdon.

Milton Park near Abingdon in Oxfordshire is home to a number of successful scientific spin-outs. Two of these, Oxford Catalysts and Oxford Diffraction, are inviting science writers to a visit their labs on Wednesday, 18 June to witness some of the science behind the 'spin', and explore the latest innovations in catalyst development and x-ray diffraction. For those of an entrepreneurial bent, business development directors at both companies will be available and happy to discuss the challenges involved in building up a science-based company.

Milton Park is located 12 miles south of Oxford, just off the Milton Interchange on the A34. The nearest mainline station is Didcot Parkway. The two companies have offered to provide morning coffee, a sandwich lunch, afternoon tea and transport to and from Didcot station for those travelling by train. There is also parking available on site.

For space reasons, the visit will be limited to no more than 10. It's first come, first served. For further information or to reserve your place please contact Nina Morgan, telephone 01608-676530; e-mail:

Oxford Catalysts

Oxford Catalysts (, is a spin-out from the Chemistry Department at Oxford University. The company was founded by Professor Malcolm Green and Dr Tiancun Xiao in October 2004, and its technology draws on almost 20 years of research at the Oxford University's Wolfson Catalysis Centre. Oxford Catalysts works to design speciality catalysts for creating the next generation of clean fuels from both conventional fossil fuels and renewable sources such as biomass. The company has two key platform technologies: a novel class of metal carbide catalysts for applications such as Fischer-Tropsch (FT) and hydrodesulphurisation (HDS); and catalysts to produce steam at temperatures between 100ºC and 800ºC+ instantaneously starting from room temperature. Instant Steam could have important applications in a areas ranging from cleaning and disinfection, to food packaging and green energy in the form of motive power or electricity.

Oxford Catalysts has recently expanded its lab facilities. During the visit scientists working in the company will explain catalyst development, offer tours of its newly expanded labs – which house two new high throughput experimentation (HTE) rigs – and demonstrate the production of Instant Steam.

Oxford Diffraction

Oxford Diffraction ( designs and manufacturers innovative scientific instruments for single crystal X-ray diffraction. Founded in March 2001, Oxford Diffraction was created as a spin out of Oxford Instruments plc following a successful alliance with Kuma Diffraction, a dynamic Polish company based in Wrocław, which was itself spun out from the Polish Academy of Sciences in 1993. Oxford Diffraction has recently been acquired by the US-based company, Varian Inc., a leading worldwide supplier of scientific instruments and vacuum technologies for life sciences and industrial applications.

Oxford Diffraction's instruments are typically employed by academic and industrial scientific research groups working in the disciplines of chemistry, biology, geology and physics, where an understanding of the shape and three dimensional molecular structure of materials is essential. Its products encompass a vast array of diffractometers, X-ray sources and CCD detectors, and include its revolutionary PX Scanner, which is designed specifically to carry out identification and X-ray diffraction analysis of protein crystals in situ within multi-well crystallisation plates.
Scientists at Oxford Diffraction will demonstrate and explain the technology behind the machines, and discuss the theory and practice behind x-ray crystallography along with some of its applications.


  • 10:30 – 10: 45 Arrive at Oxford Catalysts (Oxford Catalysts have offered to provide transport from Didcot station for anyone travelling on the 9:30 or 9:48 train from Paddington (10:12 and 10:33 arrivals)
  • 10: 45- 11:15 The visit begins with coffee at Oxford Catalysts
  • 11:15 – 11:45 Discussion of the science and business rational behind Oxford Catalysts
  • 11:45 – 12:45 Tour of the new labs at Oxford Catalysts, including demonstrations of the new high throughput experimentation rigs and the Instant Steam technology.
  • 12:25 – 13:45 Sandwich lunch at Oxford Catalysts, followed by a short walk to Oxford Diffraction
  • 14:00 – 15:15: Discussion of the science and business rational behind Oxford Diffraction, and demonstrations of its award winning technology.
  • 15:15 – 15:30 Tea at Oxford Diffraction
  • 15:30 Visit ends. Oxford Catalysts will provide transport for anyone wishing to catch the
  • 15:47 or later trains from Didcot.