Spin-out backer announces £215m of investment funds


An investment company co-founded by the University has announced an initial injection of £215m from investors.

Northern Gritstone was launched in 2021 to help boost the commercialisation of university spin-outs in the north of England.

A joint venture between the Universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield, the company is expected to begin making its first investments in innovative start-ups over the coming weeks.

With a focus on supporting the commercialisation of science and intellectual property-rich businesses originating from these three research-led institutions, many of the opportunities Northern Gritstone will explore are in the UK’s most exciting emerging sectors such as advanced materials, energy, health technology and cognitive computation.

This successful first close for Northern Gritstone speaks to the ground-breaking nature and world-class quality of research and innovation taking place at all three universities.

Jane Madeley, Chief Financial Officer, University of Leeds

Jane Madeley, the University’s Chief Financial Officer and a non-executive director on Northern Gritstone’s board, said: “This successful first close for Northern Gritstone speaks to the ground-breaking nature and world-class quality of research and innovation taking place at all three universities. 

“It recognises the tremendous strength of our pipeline of spin-out enterprises. These cover a broad range of emerging technologies that will be critical in offering innovative solutions to global challenges.” 

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

Northern Gritstone’s Chief Executive, Duncan Johnson, said: “There is rightly huge excitement about the innovative, science-led spin outs emerging from our leading research universities and the ecosystems they support, and this has been reflected in our conversations with investors so far.  

“We are greatly encouraged by both the size of our first close, and also the range and quality of investors that the Northern Gritstone proposition has attracted. 

‘Profit with purpose’ 

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.  

With plans to raise £500m overall, having hit this initial fundraising milestone the company will continue to welcome further backers over the coming months.  

Northern Gritstone Chairman Lord Jim O’Neill said: “The strong endorsement of Northern Gritstone we’ve seen from investors 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 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.” 

Further information

Northern Gritstone is a ground-breaking investment company based in the north of England, founded by the Universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield. 

Initial investors have included 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.

For more information email University of Leeds Media Relations Manager Ian Rosser at i.rosser@leeds.ac.uk.