New funding to unlock £580m investment in the north of England

Ferryside Power Station, Yorkshire

Research England is investing over £5.5 million of Connecting Capability Fund money to strengthen commercialisation and create jobs in the north of England.

Announced today in support of the government’s ambitious new Innovation Strategy, this investment is part of a wider £25 million boost to the Connecting Capability Fund (CCF). This follows on from £86.4 million invested from 2018 to 2021 that stimulated growth and innovation across the country.

In total, 11 projects based in all regions of England are receiving further funding. They include projects relating to green economic growth in line with the UK’s COP26 priorities, treating infectious diseases, and drug discovery, with a focus on commercialisation.

Executive Chair of Research England David Sweeney said:

I am pleased to be able to invest further in Research England’s successful CCF programme. Follow on funded projects demonstrate the diversity, importance and innovation of UK university commercialisation practice.

This includes the power of university support to spin out new companies and raise business and private investment, spreading the benefits from science and research around the country.

University of Keele Vice-Chancellor, Research England Knowledge Exchange champion and chair of the CCF and follow on funding panel Trevor McMillan said:

The CCF programme has demonstrated the diverse ways in which universities and businesses can join forces to drive economic growth across the country, addressing the government’s levelling up priorities.

Projects have already delivered a step change in university-business engagement, and follow on funding will drive this further, deepening knowledge collaborations and tech clusters to build back better.

An engine for growth

One of the main aims of this investment is to drive economic growth through university-business innovation. Two of the biggest projects being funded through the latest round of CCF are the Northern Gritstone initiative and the Northern Accelerator.

The university partnership behind Northern Gritstone has received a further £2 million of CCF funding to support proof of principal activities and provide seed funding for high-potential, spin-out businesses. This additional funding is a boost for innovation generated from university research in the north and helps create a pipeline of opportunities for investors. This includes Northern Gritstone Ltd, a £500 million venture fund jointly set up by Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield universities.

The Northern Accelerator is receiving £3,563,439, bringing their total investment to £8,497,206. This will strengthen the commercialization ecosystem in the north east and will establish an £80 million venture fund.

Further support to the north of England will come through £1,812,000 of funding to the THYME project, which will support the biotechnology sector in the Tees Valley, the Humber Region and Yorkshire. In addition, other funded projects are aimed at regions across England, including these in the north.

Continuing success

The CCF has a proven track record of stimulating economic growth, skills and jobs through innovation. As a result of the first round of CCF funding:

  • more than 4,760 people received training in commercialisation skills
  • 735 businesses were engaged directly in projects, with a further 4,377 engaged in the projects’ wider works
  • 49 spinouts were created from the projects, with more in the pipeline
  • 1,523 new products and processes were developed, or are currently in development
  • an additional £152 million in funding was attracted.

Further information

The projects receiving funding through CCF are:

Northern Gritstone initiative

Follow on award of £2,000,000 over one year (total award £7 million), to deliver an ambitious £500 million venture fund in the North West and Yorkshire.

Northern Accelerator

Award of £3,563,439 over two years (total award £8,497,206) to strengthen the North East commercialisation ecosystem and establish a £80 million venture fund

Connecting Capabilities in Advanced Therapies

£1,320,000 over one year (total award £6,242,055) to take technology specific approaches to advanced therapies commercialisation from London to other important regional clusters around the country.


Awarded £1,640,000 over one year (total award £6,460,000) to target one of the grand challenges, ageing society, through a drug discovery network across six hubs forming a ‘spine’ connecting the length of the UK’s geography.

THYME: Teesside, Hull and York – Mobilising Bioeconomy Knowledge Exchange

Follow on funding total of £1,812,000 over one year (total award £6,812,000) to support important government priorities in the bioeconomy strategy across the Tees Valley, the Humber Region and Yorkshire.

SPRINT – SPace Research & Innovation Network for Technology

An award of £1,998,503 over a one-year period (total award £6,794,503) to significantly enhance strategic knowledge exchange driven business innovation within the space sector through expansion of regional clusters.

A Social sciences Platform for Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Transformation (ASPECT)

An award of £2,400,000 over two years (total award £7,400,000) to scale up the social sciences commercialisation ecosystem through expanding the membership across the UK and internationally whilst developing ambitious interdisciplinary venture building activities.

The Bloomsbury SET

Follow on funding award £1,900,000 over one year (total award £6,860,000). This will enable the accelerated commercialisation of new products and therapeutics arising from innovative research focused on solutions to emerging and endemic infectious diseases.

SETsquared across Sectors in the South of England (SaSSE)

£3,300,000 over two years (total award £8,300,000) to develop a £140 million investment fund. This will support scale up of spin-outs through the launch of a new national collaboration and expansion of partnerships.

Clean Growth UK

Award £1,376,170 over one year (total award £4,876,170) to develop a truly national innovation ecosystem supporting a green economic recovery.

MedTech SuperConnector

Follow on funding of £3,457,408 over two years (total award £8,404,408) to address the challenges facing MedTech development through generation of a venture accelerator which will support regional expansion.

Top image:  Credit: Getty

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