West Palm Beach (HedgeCo.net) – A pioneering collaboration that brings together the best of the academic and finance worlds has been such a success that the venture has outgrown its premises, just a year after its establishment.
Man Group plc, one of the world’s largest alternative investment companies, founded the Man Research Laboratory ("MRL"), in Oxford in September 2007. The role of MRL is to undertake commercial research projects for the various quantitative groups within Man, and in particular, for its wholly owned subsidiary fund manager AHL. Although quantitative techniques are widely used throughout Man, it is within AHL that they have been used extraordinarily successfully for more than twenty years.
The laboratory was established at the same time as the Oxford-Man Institute of Quantitative Finance ("OMI"), which is part of the University of Oxford. Man provides the principal funding (an initial commitment of GBP 13.75 million – $21.9 million) for the institute, which shares common facilities with the laboratory.
"The partnership between Man and the University of Oxford is unique," said Dr Anthony Ledford, a senior executive at AHL and Research Director of MRL. "While other hedge fund managers have opened their own, private research centres, none has done so in partnership with the University of Oxford itself."
"The aim for both the University and Man is to create a stimulating environment of research and innovation, where ideas flourish," Dr Ledford continues. "Practitioners from a wide spectrum of disciplines can bring their skills into collaboration, and learn from each other."
Staff numbers are expected to double over the coming year. OMI, which brings together academics from a wide spectrum of Oxford University departments, already has fourteen faculty members, another fourteen associate members and four permanent academic staff – three research fellows and the institute’s Director – along with twelve higher-degree students.
"The collaboration has been a great success", Dr Ledford added. "It has exceeded the expectations of both the University and Man. Planned staffing levels in both the laboratory and the institute were met ahead of schedule, and the number of applications for positions has necessitated a search for larger premises."
Although the institute and laboratory are independent of each other and follow different research programmes, there is significant interaction between them. This has benefited both parties, and OMI is attracting significant international attention. In its first year, as well as a series of over one hundred seminars and presentations, it has hosted a symposium and two conferences – one of its guest speakers being a Nobel Prize winner.
MRL has already made significant commercial contributions to Man and AHL, which specialises in systematic automated trading. A new trading model – first conceived at the laboratory – which operates on high frequency data is now actively trading the global markets and providing new sources of enhanced investment opportunities. Another benefit is the magnetic effect the laboratory is having in attracting the next generation of top talent into Man from around the world.
Dr Ledford added: "The interaction between our Research Lab and the Institute has put us at the cutting edge in our field. Looking at what we’ve already achieved, we’re really excited about the prospects for the future."
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