THE North-East university partnership Northern Accelerator is launching a £1.7 million Seed Investment Fund to grow the region’s economy, building on its successful record of creating innovative spin-outs.

The Seed Investment Fund, managed by Northstar Ventures, launched yesterday, August 4.

The first deals are expected to be completed in the next two months, with further funding allocated over a 12-month period.

The fund is on the hunt for businesses with the best commercial ideas and high growth potential in a sectors such as healthcare, clean technology and data.

Northern Accelerator, comprised of Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland universities, transitions university research into commercially viable businesses.

The new fund will provide a "much needed" cash injection to create long-term and sustainable impact on the region’s economy and job creation.

Durham University vice chancellor, Professor Stuart Corbridge, said: “The launch of the Seed Investment Fund will be a catalyst for change in the North-East and builds on four years of success in converting academic innovation into successful enterprises that boost the region’s economy.

“There is a high degree of collaboration between our region’s universities and a wealth of untapped potential demonstrated in a promising pipeline of innovation that builds on our research strengths. The new fund will unlock that potential, not only impacting the economy but also allowing more of our great research and innovation to make a real-world impact.”

The number of spin-outs from Northern Accelerator has more than doubled over the past year, and increased fivefold since the partnership began in 2016.

Backed by funding from Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, Northern Accelerator has placed 23 chief executives in spin-outs, created 28 businesses and allocated £1.8 million worth of pre-incorporation funding to help 45 research projects move closer to commercialisation.