M&G catalyses investment in university science and innovation hubs in northern England

by | May 20, 2022

M&G announces it has invested in the first fund by Northern Gritstone, the new investment business focused on university spin-outs 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’, seeking to combine 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. The company is expected to begin deploying capital and making its first investments in innovative start-ups over the coming weeks, having raised an initial £215 million from investors, including M&G.

The investment has been made by M&G’s Catalyst strategy, which is investing up to £5 billion into innovative privately-owned global businesses working to create a more sustainable world. This marks the strategy’s latest investment in UK academic innovation and impact, following previous investments in Vaccitech, Oxford Nanopore Technologies and in a strategy connected with the Cambridge ecosystem.

Lord Jim O’Neill, Northern Gritstone Chair, says: “This investment is testament to the huge scale of the opportunity in northern England’s world class science and innovation hubs and the spin outs they are producing. By investing in Northern Gritstone, asset managers are directly buying into the brightest prospects for Britain’s future economy. Today marks a significant milestone for the company to deliver its philosophy of Profit with Purpose which underpins all we seek to do.”

Alex Seddon, Head of M&G’s Catalyst Team, comments: “British universities have a growing reputation for exceptional research capabilities, successful spin-outs and innovation hubs but institutional capital has remained concentrated in the south. The momentum around Northern Gritstone is fuelling a thriving northern venture ecosystem, widening access for investors to back exceptional talent from across the UK. Northern Gritstone’s philosophy of ‘profit with purpose’ is aligned with our own approach to investing – channelling capital into innovative companies working to create a more sustainable world.”

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