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Northern Accelerator is an innovative collaboration between Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland Universities.

It is driving a step change in the commercialisation of research to help address regional imbalance and strengthen the North East knowledge economy.

We bring together academics and business leaders, with a host of funding and support, to form sustainable businesses that create more and better jobs.

At the outset of Northern Accelerator, North East England had the lowest business density in the UK and low levels of private sector R&D investment.

North East Universities’ research also accounts for a significantly higher proportion of R&D spend compared with the national average. Northern Accelerator partners therefore believe we have a responsibility and an unmissable opportunity to commercialise research to support local and national economic growth.

Both the North East and Tees Valley strategic economic plans have ambitious innovation agendas and it’s in this regional context we set out to deliver. Enabled by £4.9m from Research England’s Connecting Capabilities Fund, today’s Northern Accelerator builds upon an initial European Regional

Development Fund programme to embed entrepreneurial business leaders into university start-ups at the earliest stage.

The long-term vision is to deliver sustainable impact, developing an ongoing venture capital fund for university spin-outs and a vibrant community of businesses created through the programme.

Northern Accelerator in summary


Pre-incorporation Funds

Academics can apply for funding to take high quality research projects closer to commercialisation.

Seed Fund

We have an investment fund of seed capital to help spin-outs validate business models and demonstrate value to investors.

Innovation Assessment

30 Assessments Commissioned

We offer a detailed business-readiness diagnostic of commercial opportunities, providing robust external due-diligence.

Executives into Business

25 Executives Recruited

We have a candidate pool of experienced and talented business executives to match to opportunities to lead university spin-outs.

27 High Growth Spin-outs Created

Northern Accelerator will create a sustainable change in the innovation environment through an ongoing venture capital fund for university spin-outs.

Spin-Outs With Some HEI Ownership

Northern Accelerator has so far increased the number of spin-outs from an average of 1.8 per year in the five years preceding Northern Accelerator, to an expected 10 in the 2018/19 academic year.

To date we have


Businesses created


Pounds Allocated


CEOs placed in start ups


Opportunities Funded