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Northern Gritstone secures first close of £220m ahead of first investments

20 May 2022

Northern Gritstone, the new investment business focused on university spin-outs in the north of England, announces a first close of £220m having seen strong interest from investors in its proposition

Northern Gritstone

The company, chaired by Lord Jim O’Neill and led by Chief Executive Duncan Johnson, is expected to begin deploying capital and making its first investments in innovative start-ups over the coming weeks.

Northern Gritstone has attracted funding commitments from a broad and diverse base of investors encompassing local authority pension funds, high net worth individuals, institutional investors and real estate investors active in the tech and science ecosystem of the region.

These include Greater Manchester Pension Fund, West Yorkshire Pension Fund, M&G, Columbia Threadneedle, Lansdowne Partners, Bruntwood and Greater Manchester Combined Authority as well as Andrew Law, the CEO of Caxton Associates, and Keith Breslauer, Managing Director and founder of Patron Capital, both in a personal capacity.

With plans to raise £500m overall, having hit this initial fundraising milestone the company will continue to welcome further backers over the coming months. Now that the first close has been achieved, Northern Gritstone plans to begin making its initial investments into its proprietary pipeline of world-class science and innovation-based businesses located in the North of England.

Having launched in July 2021, Northern Gritstone was founded by the universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield to support the commercialisation of science and IP-rich businesses originating from these three research-led institutions. Many of these opportunities are in the UK’s most exciting emerging sectors such as advanced materials, health technology, cognitive computation and AI.

Northern Gritstone was founded with the philosophy of ‘profit with purpose’, combining attractive returns for shareholders with wider positive, societal and economic impact, including supporting Levelling Up and high-skilled job creation in the north of England..

Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof Luke Georghiou said: "Northern Gritstone will transform the investment landscape for our spin-out companies and for the North of England more generally. 

"Our academic entrepreneurs, supported by our Innovation Factory, have produced record numbers of spin-outs in the past two years. This huge potential can now be far more easily realised as the investments will enable them to scale-up businesses which are there to solve the world’s problems. 

“These include new treatments for devastating medical conditions, transformative applications of data analytics to farming and exploiting the amazing properties of graphene across multiple applications to name just a few.”

Commenting, Northern Gritstone Chairman Lord Jim O’Neill said: “Today marks a significant milestone as Northern Gritstone continues to build its investor base allowing the company to deliver its philosophy of Profit with Purpose which underpins all we seek to do.”

Northern Gritstone Chief Executive Duncan Johnson added: “Whilst fundraising will continue, this first close and the backing that Northern Gritstone has received from investors so far, allows us to begin making our first investments shortly. It also importantly enables us, alongside our friends and colleagues in the wider northern venture ecosystem, to accelerate the development of a northern innovation hub to rival the UK’s Silicon Fen and ultimately Silicon Valley.”