£300m Northern Gritstone beefs up investment team

Khadija Ashfaq

Northern Gritstone, the investment business focused on university spin-outs and science and technology enabled businesses in the North of England, has appointed Khadija Ashfaq as an investment manager.

She will be based in the company’s Leeds office, from where a growing number of investments are being completed.

Most recently, Northern Gritstone announced investments in Leeds-based companies AssetCool, Optalysys and LC Auxetec.

Ashfaq joins Northern Gritstone’s investment team that is led by chief investment officer Marion Bernard.

Launched in July 2021 by the Universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield and chaired by former Goldman Sachs executive Jim O’Neill, Northern Gritstone is dedicated to investing in university spinouts and start-ups in the North of England, delivering its philosophy of “profit with purpose.”

Since the company announced its first close of £215 million in May 2022, it has invested in 11 early-stage science and technology-enabled businesses in the North of England.

Northern Gritstone is deploying more than £300 million of capital, having secured commitments from investors including British Patient Capital, Greater Manchester Pension Fund, West Yorkshire Pension Fund, M&G and Columbia Threadneedle.

“Khadija will be responsible for identifying and sourcing potential investment opportunities, negotiating investment deals and managing relationships with companies across the group’s portfolio,” said Northern Gritstone.

“She brings in-depth knowledge of the regional venture capital landscape, having spent five years working for Northstar Ventures. where she has managed investments in a range of sectors, including Life Sciences, Manufacturing and Healthcare.”

Northern Gritstone CEO Duncan Johnson said: “Khadija’s experience of investing in early-stage regional businesses will allow her to make an immediate impact as we increase our investments in the North of England’s most innovative companies.

“Her interest in businesses dedicated to finding new solutions that deliver deeper impact is well-aligned with our ‘profit with purpose’ philosophy and, on behalf of everyone at Northern Gritstone, I’m delighted to welcome her to our team.”