North East accelerator gets backing to commercialise university research

The Northern Accelerator is to expand to help academics at Newcastle, Northumbria, Durham, Sunderland and Teesside universities.

A pioneering service to turn university research into successful businesses in the North East is to expand in the region and take its model to other parts of the country after £3.6m in Government funding.

The Northern Accelerator programme – which has helped launch 34 businesses from Newcastle, Northumbria, Durham and Sunderland universities – has secured the funding from Research England.

Now it has signed up Teesside University to join its programme, which aims to put strong management teams into university spin-out companies to speed up their growth and is also hoping to create a £75m equity fund for new firms.

Northern Accelerator’s support programme has seen more than 200 academics trained in entrepreneurship and £2.1m funding awarded to academics to progress 50 research projects closer to commercialisation.

Meanwhile, a Northern Accelerator Seed Investment Fund, managed by Northstar Ventures, has invested a total of £1.8m into nine businesses, with plans to grow this to a much larger long-term venture capital fund for university spin-outs in the region.

The additional funding from Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund will allow the partnership to continue for another two years, as well as introducing a new scale-up programme for businesses deemed to have significant high growth potential.

Dr Tim Hammond, Northern Accelerator project lead and director of commercialisation at Durham University, said: “Northern Accelerator evolved from an initial Executives into Business programme into a full programme of support and we’re really bolstering the region’s innovation ecosystem with the creation of a long-term venture capital fund for spin-out businesses.

“It is fantastic to receive confirmation that we’ve been successful in our bid for further CCF funding, allowing us to continue the good work already undertaken to contribute to regional prosperity and societal impact.”

Alan Welby, innovation director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “Having the right funding and innovation infrastructure in place on a regional level is vital to create the conditions for spin-out businesses to grow and flourish and, in that respect, Northern Accelerator plays an important role.

“I am delighted that Northern Accelerator has received follow-on funding. It proves that that programme is delivering well.”

News source: Business Live North East.

Northern Accelerator funding; Omar Al-Janabi, Innovation, IP & Commercialisation Manager at Teesside University; Tim Hammond, Director Commercialisation & Economic Development – Durham University; Edwin Milligan, Northern Accelerator Project Manager; Nickola Gray, Business Development Manager – University of Sunderland; David Huntley, Head of Company Creation – Newcastle University; Lizzie Withington, Company Creation Manager – Newcastle University; Hugh Rhodes, IP & Commercialisation Manager – Northumbria University

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