Northern Gritstone, Deeptech launch spinout accelerator

Sheffield University

The Northern Gritstone investment firm and Deeptech Labs have announced a partnership in association with the universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield to accelerate the creation of deeptech spinouts.

Northern Gritstone invests in science and technology-enabled businesses in the North of England and Deeptech Labs are experts in turning breakthrough scientific advances into “category defining companies.”

Launched in July 2021 and chaired by former Goldman Sachs executive Jim O’Neill, Northern Gritstone’s investment philosophy is “profit with purpose” combining strong returns for investors with wider positive, societal and economic impact.

In October 2023, the company announced the final close of its initial fundraise at £312 million and has already made investments in some of the UK’s most exciting future science and technology-enabled businesses in the North of England.

As part of the new partnership, Northern Gritstone and Deeptech Labs will work closely with each university to identify early-stage spinouts to participate in a 10-week programme that establishes the foundations of growth for deeptech spinouts.

“This is achieved through bespoke venture-building activities covering strategy, operations, and capital-raising,” said Northern Gritstone.

“The programme will bring founders into the Deeptech Labs’ global ecosystem of technology entrepreneurs and investors and complements the universities’ own support and communities.”

Northern Gritstone CEO Duncan Johnson said: “Northern Gritstone’s three founding universities are highly regarded for nurturing technical talent and commercializing intellectual property through spinouts  to create tomorrow’s world-class businesses.

“Innovation thrives when it is part of a collaborative and supportive ecosystem of talent and capital.

“NG Studios powered by Deeptech Labs will help accelerate the process by broadening access to the innovation ecosystem and helping academics test and develop their business strategies.

“We are delighted to partner with Deeptech Labs given their deeptech expertise.”

Deeptech Labs CEO Miles Kirby said: “We are delighted to partner with Northern Gritstone to support the commercialisation of the world-class research from the universities of Leeds, Manchester, and Sheffield.

“It represents a strategic expansion for Deeptech Labs to deliver on our goal of enabling breakthrough science to be commercialised at scale and to catalyse the deeptech ecosystem across the UK and Europe.”

Andy Duley, Director of Commercialisation at the University of Leeds, said: “The University of Leeds has a long history of supporting academic innovation to create commercial ventures.

“Shaping founders’ early-stage trajectories by offering access to sector-specific venture building programmes is an exciting stage in our partnership with Northern Gritstone.

“The NG Studios and Deeptech Labs partnership will help accelerate the investment-readiness of founders and their future companies.”

Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President & Deputy VC at the University of Manchester, said: “The University of Manchester actively supports research, innovation and commercialisation and is globally renowned for creating IP-rich businesses that produce cutting-edge technology and services.

“Supporting founders as they develop their potential is part of our DNA. Collaborating with Northern Gritstone on their partnership with Deeptech Labs is an exciting new stage in accelerating the opportunities that stem from the university.”

Andy Hogben, Head of Commercialisation at the University of Sheffield, said: “The University of Sheffield’s Commercialisation Journey offers wrap-around support to Innovators and Founders as they explore, develop, and launch cutting-edge technology-driven enterprises with a global vision.

“This new collaboration between the University, DTL, and NG marks a significant milestone in enrichment of the Northern Triangle environment as the ecosystem grows to further support Founders to scale their businesses.”