North East universities collaborate to boost region’s economy

Four North East universities have come together on a project that aims to turn their world-leading research into companies that will boost the region’s economy.

The four North East universities have come together to turn their world-leading research into companies that boost the region’s economy.
The four North East universities have come together to turn their world-leading research into companies that boost the region’s economy.

The four North East universities – Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland – have collectively won £4.9m from the government to form the ‘Northern Accelerator’.

This programme will build on an existing partnership between Durham and Newcastle and hopes to develop entrepreneurship among the institutions’ academics.

The existing programme has built a network of entrepreneurs who are embedded at the earliest stages in the universities’ spin-out companies.

Now it is hoped that the expanded project will build upon the current success of university spin-out companies, encouraging more start-ups and enhancing the region’s economy.

Successful university spin-offs in the region include Kromek plc, which began at Durham University ’s physics department and which now employs more than 100 people, 50 of them at NETPark in Sedgefield; and listed pharamaceutical firm e-Therapeutics, which span out from Newcastle University.

The programme has been announced by Business Secretary Greg Clark, who said: “The North East has some of the most innovative people, businesses and organisations and I am determined to build on its success.

“Improving our ability to bring new innovations and products to market is crucial to the success of the UK economy and the new set of projects announced today will further strengthen the link between our world leading universities and businesses.

“By increasing investment in research and development by an extra £7bn over the next five years we will ensure the UK remains one of the best places in the world to innovate, do business and create the high value, high skilled jobs of the future ensuring we build a Britain fit for the future.”

Four key areas of regional strength

The new project will focus on four key areas of regional strength: advanced manufacturing, the chemicals and process sector, life sciences and healthcare and digital.

It aims to support the ambitions for high skills job growth in those sectors already identified by both the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and Tees Valley Combined Authorities.

Roy Sandbach, who leads Newcastle University’s centre for ageing, is expected to chair the Northern Accelerator strategic advisory board.

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