A partnership of North East universities is looking to create a £100m venture capital fund that will be used to grow spin-outs from some of the region’s top minds.
The Northern Accelerator was initially created to support spin-out businesses from the organisation’s partner universities – Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland.
It is now looking to create a £100m venture capital fund to ensure that SMEs can access funding well into the future, and is appealing for investment firms to partner with it for the launch.
Since being launched three years ago, the Northern Accelerator has increased the number of companies spinning out of the four universities from less than two each year to an expected 10 in 2019.
It is hoped that an evergreen venture capital fund would provide long-term backing to some of these companies, with Roy Sandbach, chair of the Accelerator’s advisory board, saying the move could be a “game-changer for us in the North East”.
Jordan Christie, from Northern Accelerator, added: “The creation of the venture capital fund is the Northern Accelerator’s legacy, as the programme might only be here for a set period of time. The venture capital find will be there in the future for spin-outs to get funding from.
“It’s too early to give any finer details at the moment. That is what we want the partner to come on board and do.
“The deadline to express interest is tomorrow. Then we have a couple of question and answer events on, one in London and one in Newcastle, where they can find out more about Northern Accelerator and the universities. Then it will go out to a formal tender.
“The procurement process is fairly lengthy and it will be November when we announce the partner.”
Northern Accelerator was founded in 2016 after receiving £4.9m in Government funding – awarded from the Connecting Capability Fund, made by Research England. Since then the accelerator has injected £670,158 into 20 businesses.
The next round of funding will take place at the end of July, bringing investment into local businesses above £1m.
The organisation also helps match business leaders with the academics that found spin-out businesses. This allows the business to grow with a commercial savvy CEO and a researcher who understands how the product works and can progress.