Northern Gritstone to accelerate deeptech spinouts in lab deal

Duncan Johnson

Northern Gritstone, the investment company focused on science and technology-enabled businesses in the North of England, and Deeptech Labs, the leading expert in turning breakthrough scientific advances into category defining companies, have agreed a partnership in association with the universities of Leeds, Manchester, and Sheffield, to accelerate the creation of deeptech spinouts.

As part of the partnership, Northern Gritstone and Deeptech Labs will work closely with each university to identify early-stage spinouts to participate in a ten-week programme that establishes the foundations of growth for deeptech spinouts. This is achieved through bespoke venture-building activities covering strategy, operations, and capital-raising.

Launched in July 2021 by the Universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield, the fund secured a final close of its initial fundraise at £312 million in October 2023.

It has made 19 investments in science and technology-enabled businesses in some of the UK’s fastest-growing sectors, such as advanced materials, energy, health technology and cognitive computation.

The new programme will bring founders into the Deeptech Labs’ global ecosystem of technology entrepreneurs and investors and complements the universities’ own support and communities.

Deeptech Labs runs an accelerator programme and a fund which embeds a cohort of startups in a network of successful entrepreneurs, expert practitioners, leading researchers, and deeptech organization to accelerate their growth.

It was launched in 2021 with the backing of Cambridge University and Arm Ltd, Cambridge Innovation Capital, Ewan Kirk and Martlet. 29 companies have been supported to date across a wide range of advanced technologies.

Duncan Johnson, CEO of Northern Gritstone said: “Northern Gritstone’s three founding universities are highly regarded for nurturing technical talent and commercializing intellectual property through spinouts  to create tomorrow’s world-class businesses. Innovation thrives when it is part of a collaborative and supportive ecosystem of talent and capital. NG Studios powered by Deeptech Labs will help accelerate the process by broadening access to the innovation ecosystem and helping academics test and develop their business strategies.”

Miles Kirby, CEO of Deeptech Labs said the partnership represents a strategic expansion for Deeptech Labs to “deliver on our goal of enabling breakthrough science to be commercialised at scale and to catalyse the deeptech ecosystem across the UK and Europe.”

Andy Duley, Director of Commercialisation at the University of Leeds said: “The University of Leeds has a long history of supporting academic innovation to create commercial ventures. Shaping founders’ early-stage trajectories by offering access to sector-specific venture building programmes is an exciting stage in our partnership with Northern Gritstone. The NG Studios and Deeptech Labs partnership will help accelerate the investment-readiness of founders and their future companies”

Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President & Deputy VC at the University of Manchester said: “The University of Manchester actively supports research, innovation and commercialisation and is globally renowned for creating IP-rich businesses that produce cutting-edge technology and services. Supporting founders as they develop their potential is part of our DNA. Collaborating with Northern Gritstone on their partnership with Deeptech Labs is an exciting new stage in accelerating the opportunities that stem from the university.”

Andy Hogben, Head of Commercialisation at the University of Sheffield: “The University of Sheffield’s Commercialisation Journey offers wrap-around support to Innovators and Founders as they explore, develop, and launch cutting-edge technology-driven enterprises with a global vision. This new collaboration between the University, DTL, and NG marks a significant milestone in enrichment of the Northern Triangle environment as the ecosystem grows to further support Founders to scale their businesses.”