Northern universities launch new investment company

The Universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield are launching a new investment company to help boost the commercialisation of university spinouts and start-ups in the North of England.

The company, Northern Gritstone, will fund spinout enterprises from each institution using external capital raised from a range of different investors. These businesses will either be newly formed spinouts or ones historically founded by or linked to the universities. The company also aims to be a key part of the Government’s “Build Back Better” levelling up agenda and Plan for Growth in the North.

The three universities initially came together in 2018 to create the Northern Triangle Initiative and secured a £5 million award from the Research England Connecting Capabilities Fund (CCF). By 2020 the CCF had supported about 20 commercially viable projects, substantially improving commercialisation rates across the three universities, and generating a sustainable pipeline of university spinouts.

Northern Gritstone will build on this successful collaboration by providing significant start-up and follow-on funding to support the Intellectual Property developed at Leeds, Manchester, and Sheffield. Northern Gritstone plans to raise up to £500 million from strategic corporate partners, institutional investors, and qualifying individuals. If successful, the financing will make Northern Gritstone one of the largest dedicated investors into the commercialisation of university science and technology related Intellectual Property in the UK.

Northern Gritstone will provide funding for a diverse range of companies across areas such as advanced materials and manufacturing, health and life sciences, artificial intelligence, and data sciences.

Jane Madeley, the University of Leeds’ Chief Financial Officer, will represent the University as a non-executive director on Northern Gritstone’s board.

She said: “Leeds and our fellow founding universities are technological powerhouses, pursuing research and innovation that has the potential to help tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the world. But a lack of capital investment has sometimes limited that capability – Northern Gritstone will go a long way to help release this pent-up potential.”


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