New investment routes for North East university spin-outs as Northern Accelerator partners with Northstar Ventures

A partnership of North East universities that is already delivering a step-change in the translation of world-class research into sustainable commercial enterprises is to launch a new seed investment fund for spin-out companies, through a novel partnership with venture capitalist, Northstar Ventures.

Northern Accelerator is an innovative collaboration between Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland Universities. Since its inception in 2016 it has increased the number of spin-out businesses from its partner universities from an average of under 2 per year, to 10 businesses in the 2018-19 academic year alone. The collaboration is cultivating a pipeline of high quality businesses and credible investment opportunities.

Northern Accelerator is now pleased to announce that Northstar Ventures has been selected to manage the partnership’s £1.7million seed capital investment fund and to embark on the creation of a much larger Northern Universities Investment Fund.

Northstar will manage the seed investment fund, providing early-stage investment for the high-potential businesses created through Northern Accelerator’s commercialisation processes. Alex Buchan, Investment Director at Northstar Ventures, said: “The North East’s universities have a strong track record of innovative spin-out businesses that represent exciting investment opportunities, including Kromek, Applied Graphene Materials and more recent ventures such as Advanced Electric Machines, Changing Health, AMLo Biosciences and others.

“Northstar is a strong advocate of research commercialisation, having been the main investor in North East university spin-outs since 2005. The potential of these companies is huge, with the expertise and innovation the teams bring. The fact that Northern Accelerator brings academic-founders together with talented and experienced business executives to lead start-ups from an early stage, further strengthens the potential of these new companies. By delivering a seed fund we will enable new ventures to prove their business models and demonstrate value to attract post-seed investors.”

Northstar will also be charged with the complex task of helping to realise Northern Accelerator’s vision of a Northern Universities Investment Fund – a venture capital fund that will prove a significant source of support for high quality spin-out businesses from North East universities. This fund will create a long-term sustainable impact on the region’s innovation ecosystem.

Chair of Northern Accelerator’s Strategic Advisory Board, Roy Sandbach OBE, is excited about the impact Northern Accelerator is already making in the region: “By translating world-leading and world-changing North East research into commercial opportunities, our universities not only ensure they make a real-world impact, but also boost the region’s knowledge economy, creating companies that deliver more and better jobs and kick-starting a much needed increase in regional private-sector research and development.”

Keep an eye on Northern Accelerator’s website and on Twitter @northern_acc for more information as the funds develop.