University spin-out fund makes half a million pound first investments
North East university partnership Northern Accelerator has made over £500,000 worth of investments into innovative university spin-out businesses in the health and biotech sectors from its £1.7M Seed Investment Fund.
The business boosting fund, managed by Northstar Ventures, has completed its first two investments which, as part of a wider funding round with other investors, saw two spinouts raise a total of £1,850,000. The fund was officially launched earlier this year to make substantial investments into spin-out businesses with high growth potential, and to attract investors from outside the North East.
One of the first businesses to receive investment was AMLo Biosciences, a Newcastle University spin-out developing diagnostics for early-stage skin cancer. The company received a total investment of £1.5m, £400,000 of which came directly from the Seed Investment Fund. They will use the cash boost to enable a market launch in the UK and prepare for international expansion with the commercialisation of their new melanoma test AMBLor® in the USA and Australia in 2021.
Another major beneficiary is gliff.ai, an artificial intelligence business which specialises in the analysis of imaging technology for X-rays, CT and MRI scans. They raised £350,000 worth of investment, including £175,000 from the Seed Investment Fund, which has seen them increase their employee headcount to ten, seven of whom are PhD scientists. gliff.ai is a Durham University spin-out founded on research into biomedical image analysis. They will be launching their latest AI productivity tools for public sale in 2021.
Alongside the investments for gliff.ai and AMLo Biosciences, Northstar Ventures is actively working with other spin-out businesses from the Northern Accelerator portfolio with strong commercial potential to identify opportunities to invest the remaining £1.2m of the Seed Investment Fund.
Supported by funding from Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, Northern Accelerator has generated a healthy investment pipeline, supporting highly scalable businesses seeking initial and further investment. There are plans for the fund to be the nucleus of a larger venture capital fund, which is in the early stages of development.
Translating research into commercial activity is extremely important at a time when the Government is under pressure from Northern MPs to deliver on their levelling up agenda of rebalancing growth across the UK in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
Alan Welby, Director of Innovation at the North East LEP said, “‘Harnessing the power of our world-class university research base to deliver spin-out business, will have a key role to play in meeting the LEP’s target of delivering 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024. Northern Accelerator’s work shows the importance of developing the right ecosystem to translate research ideas into commercial businesses that solve real-world problems. Innovation will be a driver behind the region’s post COVID-19 recovery, which university spin-outs with strong commercial potential will help facilitate.”
Newcastle University Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Chris Day added: "This recent investment is a validation of the excellent work that is being produced from our world-leading academics.
This will continue to help the North East economy by creating new highly-skilled jobs and drawing investment to the region. The Seed Investment Fund will continue to develop more viable businesses and accelerate growth in the North East, building on our existing innovation ecosystems and entrepreneurial culture."
Northern Accelerator brings together academics and business leaders, with a host of funding and support, to form sustainable businesses that create more and better jobs. Enabled by £4.9m from Research England’s Connecting Capabilities Fund, Northern Accelerator builds upon two European Regional Development Fund programmes to embed entrepreneurial business leaders into university spin-outs at the earliest stage.
The long-term vision is to deliver sustainable impact, developing an ongoing venture capital fund for university spin-outs and a vibrant community of businesses created through the programme.
The North East’s universities have a strong track record of producing innovative spin-out businesses that have grown into thriving global companies such as Kromek and Applied Graphene Materials. Recent success stories of spin-outs that have flourished as a result of Northern Accelerator’s help include, Atelerix and Magnitude Biosciences who secured significant funding to expand their businesses and are now operating in international markets.
Northstar Ventures Limited
Northstar Ventures is a venture capital and social investment firm based in the North East. We provide funding for innovative, scalable businesses and high impact social enterprises. We have been supporting entrepreneurs since 2004, seeking out strong teams with great ideas that will drive high growth, scalable businesses, and sustainable charities.
As the North East’s leading early-stage investor, we have invested over £100m into spin-outs, early-stage businesses and high impact social enterprises in the region. Our investment managers have a wealth of experience supporting new and growing businesses and bring commercial and operational experience, PhDs and MBAs, international careers and even a micro-business or two.
Research England is a council within UK Research and Innovation, which oversees UKRI’s England-only functions in relation to university research and knowledge exchange (https://re.ukri.org/). The Connecting Capability Fund (CCF) supports university collaboration in research commercialisation.
European Regional Development Fund
The project has received £982,468 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.
Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community.
The Northern Powerhouse is a key aspect of this Government’s approach to addressing the productivity gap in the North and ensuring a stronger, more sustainable economy for all parts of the UK. Alongside over €1.5 billion of European Regional Development Fund support for businesses and communities across the North, the government has awarded £3.4 billion in three rounds of Growth Deals across the Northern Powerhouse.
- Northern Accelerator
- Northern Accelerator