Northern Powerhouse Fund Secures Renowned Investors As It Builds Top Team | Economic news

The university spin-off company chaired by Lord O’Neill, the former treasury minister and Goldman Sachs economist, has won backing from a syndicate of the city’s investment giants.

Sky News has learned that funds managed by M&G Investments, Lansdowne Partners and Columbia Threadneedle are to invest in Northern Gritstone, a collaboration between the universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield.

The involvement of these leading funds is a major boost for Northern Gritstone, which intends to become one of the most prolific investors in university spin-outs and IP-rich companies in the UK.

He plans to focus his investment activities on fast growing sectors such as advanced materials, energy and healthcare technologies.

The new investment firm, which is advised by Lazard bankers, is raising capital to establish a so-called evergreen investment vehicle, with a maximum fund size of £ 500million.

The first closing of its fundraising, which will lock in the money of a first group of investors, is expected in the first quarter of next year.

Advanced discussions would take place with a range of other potential funders.

Northern Gritstone also plans to announce in the coming weeks that it has recruited Marion Bernard, a seasoned investor in early stage growth companies, as its chief investment officer.

Ms. Bernard joins the new vehicle of the Firmament Group, which supports small and medium-sized businesses.

Previously, she worked at the Business Growth Fund, the company created by the UK’s largest banks in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, at 3i Ventures and at Barclays.

Lord O’Neill, who previously oversaw the creation of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership with the aim of accelerating the growth of the biggest engines of the economy of the North of England, said: “Our potential shareholders fully understand our ability to produce an impact beyond the attractive, immediate financial returns that we can generate.

“Northern Gritstone has the ability to invest in the world’s leading science and innovation emanating from some of the world’s top-ranked universities, enabling us to support the growth sectors and world-class companies of the future. . “

Northern Gritstone had previously appointed Duncan Johnson, the former boss of the private equity arm of Caledonia Investments, as its first managing director.

The fund claims that it will be supported by the principle of “profit with objective”, which means that its investment activities will have the dual objective of generating attractive returns for its shareholders, as well as having a positive, societal and positive impact. broader economic.

Its aim is to tap into one of the world’s leading pools of researchers, academic staff and postgraduate students – the universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield having hosted 38 Nobel Laureates.

The founding universities of Northern Gritstone are said to produce almost 10% of all patents and a fifth of all intellectual property licenses filed by higher education institutions in the UK.

Comparable spin-off university companies, such as Oxford Sciences Innovation, have grown into large companies with “unicorn” ratings.

Ms. Bernard said: “The values ​​of the company as well as its ability to generate first quartile returns for shareholders fully align with my own aspirations and values. “

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