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Business & Economy

Northern Accelerator programme boosted by £4.3 million backing

A programme helping turn research into real-world applications has secured £4.3 million support.

Northern Accelerator has been backed by North of Tyne Combined Authority, Durham County Council and Research England.

Bosses say the cash will allow the venture to deliver “several enterprise fellowships, giving academic founders dedicated time, training and support”.

A partnership of Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Teesside, Sunderland and York universities, Northern Accelerator has helped create nearly 50 businesses since its foundation, with spinouts including firms behind cancer-curing drugs and carbon-negative building materials.

Dr Tim Hammond, managing director of research and innovation services at Durham University, and programme lead for Northern Accelerator, said: “Our academic founders work tirelessly to make their spinout businesses a reality.

“And, through Northern Accelerator, we’re able to team them up with experienced business leaders to get their company off the ground.

“As with any start-up, our spinouts face an uphill struggle and it’s important to get that right from the beginning.

“The new funding allows us to offer several enterprise fellowships, giving academic founders dedicated time, training and support to really focus on getting their company launched.

“It also allows us to support new spinouts with fast start grant funding, to help accelerate their development and impact.”

One project to have benefited significantly from Northern Accelerator’s support is Northumbria University’s upcoming spinout EcoTech69 [pictured, above, with Dr Tim Hammond third from left] which develops sustainable solutions for clean drinking water and air conditioning.

Led by Dr Muhammad Wakil Shahzad, associate professor in Northumbria University’s department of mechanical and construction engineering, its latest venture – Solar2Water – uses solar energy to extract moisture from the air and turn it into safe drinking water.