University innovation helps drive UK economy


Leeds has a key role to play in driving innovation and investment in the North, according to business and political leaders.

The success of research commercialisation business Northern Gritstone was celebrated at the company’s second AGM, held at Nexus.

Northern Gritstone, which launched in July 2021, was founded by the universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield to support the commercialisation of science businesses based in the North of England.

Among those speaking at the event were Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, George Freeman MP, and Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves MP.

Both emphasised the importance of building a technology hub in the North of England and championing the impact of the three universities in driving the UK’s innovation economy.

Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at Leeds, said: “The North is seen as a leader in science and innovation, in particular in health technology and advanced manufacturing, and Northern Gritstone will help unlock the huge commercial opportunities these innovative ideas represent.  
“The AGM was a fantastic opportunity to showcase some of the world class science and innovation that, supported by Northern Gritstone, will develop into disruptive businesses that address some of the most pressing problems facing our world today.

“As the University’s high-profile hub for innovators and businesses, Nexus was the perfect place to host an event celebrating support for world-class academic spinouts in the North of England.”

Among those to have benefited from investment are:

Slingshot Simulations: a pioneering digital twin and decision intelligence company, which is a spinout of the University of Leeds with its base at the University’s innovation community Nexus.

LC AuxeTec: seed investment funding from Northern Gritstone will help this University of Leeds spin out to commercialise the world’s first synthetic materials that are auxetic – the property of a material to become thicker rather than thinner when stretched.  
Optalysys: a chip developer aiming to revolutionise secure computing with Enable photonic computing technology.  

Northern Gritstone, CEO Duncan Johnson, said: “It was fantastic to bring together the science and technology ecosystem from across the North of England for Northern Gritstone’s AGM, including some of the most exciting, fast-growing companies across the region.

“As a centre of entrepreneurship and innovation and the home of Northern Gritstone in the city, Leeds’ Nexus building was the perfect place to showcase the technology hub which Northern Gritstone is helping to build.

“In particular, it was encouraging to hear the vote of confidence from both the Science Minister and Shadow Chancellor in this shared vision.

“Government, local authorities and universities all have an important role to play in providing the supportive ecosystem that will help our businesses thrive and create more high quality jobs.”

Also speaking at the event on 18 July were Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Leeds, Northern Gritstone’s chairperson Lord Jim O’Neill and Tom Riordan, CEO of Leeds City Council.

Further information

For further information, please contact Ian Rosser in the University of Leeds press office.

Photo: Rachel Reeves addresses Northern Gritsone’s AGM at Nexus. 
Photo credit: Northern Gritstone.