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Northern Accelerator

North East universities unite to boost regional economy

Published on: 29 March 2018

The North East’s universities are joining forces to commercialise research and boost the region’s economy after a Minister announced £4.9m in Government funding.

The Connecting Capability Fund (CCF) award, made by Research England, will see Newcastle, Durham, Northumbria and Sunderland universities working together to make a step change in delivering research to the market place and to develop entrepreneurship amongst their academics through an ideas impact hub and associated proof of concept support.

Announced today by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, the project will build upon, and take its name from, the existing Northern Accelerator programme – a collaboration between Newcastle and Durham universities that has built a network of entrepreneurs who are embedded at the earliest stages in the universities spin-out companies.

The newly announced project also aims to establish an ongoing North East University Investment Fund (NEUIF) to support research based spin-out companies in the region long-term after the CCF funding comes to an end.

Speaking about the announcement, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark said: “The North East has some of the most innovative people, businesses and organisations and I am determined to build on its success.

Improving our ability to bring new innovations and products to market is crucial to the success of the UK economy and the new set of projects announced today will further strengthen the link between our world leading universities and businesses.

“Through our Industrial Strategy we are determined to improve people’s lives. By increasing investment in research and development by an extra £7 billion over the next five years we will ensure the UK remains one of the best places in the world to innovate, do business and create the high value, high skilled jobs of the future ensuring we build a Britain fit for the future.”

It is hoped the project will build upon the current success of university spin-out companies, encouraging more start-ups and enhancing the region’s economy.

Examples of successful research commercialisation at all stages can be found across the partner universities. These include Newcastle University’s exciting new development Atelerix, which is the first spin-out from the existing Northern Accelerator project and the well-established Durham University spin-out company, Kromek plc.

Biotech spin-out Atelerix offers transformative technology for the storage and transport of viable cells at room temperature.

The first Northern Accelerator spin-out, Atelerix, at work in the lab

"at the forefront of innovation"

Professor Chris Day, Vice-Chancellor and President, Newcastle University, said: The North East of England has been at the forefront of innovation for more than 200 years, from Stephenson’s Rocket and Charles Parsons’s invention of the steam turbines. Now this partnership will enable us to write the next chapter in our region’s enviable story of invention and innovation.”

The newly announced project will focus on four key areas of regional strength – advanced manufacturing, the chemicals and process sector, life sciences and healthcare and digital.

The project will support the ambitions for high skills job growth in these key sectors as identified by the strategic economic plans of both the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and Tees Valley Combined Authorities.

The Northern Accelerator  project is chaired by a strategic advisory board made up of leading figures from academia and business.

Roy Sandbach OBE, Chair of the Northern Accelerator Strategic Advisory Board, said: “Our North East universities do world-class research not just for knowledge creation but to deliver national and regional economic prosperity and employment.

This award supports a leading-edge approach to the engagement of academia with business expertise, providing start-up advice, development and long-term funding.

“It will be a game-changer for the North East’s economy and a vital contribution to the delivery of the regional strategic economic plans.”

The CCF-funded Northern Accelerator project will run until 31 March 2021.

(Adapted with thanks from the Northern Accelerator)


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