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Major boost for innovation-led company creation in the North

Having transformed research commercialisation across the North East of England and North Yorkshire, the importance of the Northern Accelerator partnership has been recognised with further significant funding at a regional and national level. The partnership of Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Teesside, Sunderland and York universities has secured an additional £4.3m across two funding streams to expand its support and create more successful businesses in crucial sectors.

In 2016 the Northern Accelerator partnership set out to increase the rate at which universities in the North East could translate their research findings into commercial products and services to make a social and economic impact. The trailblazing programme introduced a range of support to ensure spinout businesses had the best chance of success, and in just a few years it has transformed the university innovation ecosystem, creating 47 businesses and set to deliver over £123m additional GVA (Gross Valued Added) to the region’s economy over a 10-year period.

Recognising the importance of this contribution to the North East’s economy, North of Tyne Combined Authority and Durham County Council awarded £2.79m UK Shared Prosperity Funding to continue Northern Accelerator’s best practice research-commercialisation model at Durham, Newcastle and Northumbria Universities, via the InTune project. And last week Research England announced an additional £1.5m Connecting Capability Funding for the full six-university partnership to pilot new activity alongside the well-established existing offering, trialling new interventions and additional support programmes.

Today the Northern Accelerator universities have a strong pipeline of innovative commercial opportunities, with spinout businesses being created in a range of sectors from cancer-curing drugs to carbon-negative building materials. Most of those businesses are based in the North East and North Yorkshire, creating high-value jobs in the area.

Northern Accelerator universities will work with partner organisations in key sectors to proactively develop solutions to crucial issues, and to ensure new businesses are embedded within the North’s innovation ecosystem. Working alongside partners in the digital sector, net zero, cancer research and pharma, focus challenge events will explore opportunities for improved collaboration and industry engagement around innovation.

In a blog announcing the new CCF Awards, Dame Jessica Corner said: “These allocations will provide funding to reinforce the critical innovation ecosystem building that is already playing a vital part in levelling up, and to contribute to technology sector developments. Projects here address a range of technologies, and an impressive set of university and private partner collaborations.”

Dr Tim Hammond, Managing Director of Research and Innovation Services at Durham University, and programme lead for Northern Accelerator, explains: “We have clear feedback from investors, our Technology Transfer Offices, and our nascent businesses that stronger engagement with key sectors would strengthen our business propositions.

“Our academic founders work tirelessly to make their spinout businesses a reality, and through Northern Accelerator we’re able to team them up with experienced business leaders to get their company off the ground. As with any start-up, our spinouts face an uphill struggle and it’s important to get that right from the beginning.

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