An innovation partnership has been launched between four North East universities.

The Innovating Together - Universities in the North East (In-TUNE) partnership has been launched by Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland Universities, alongside technology innovation catalyst CPI, to deliver two business support programmes which aim to strengthen the North East economy.

The universities have received £4.75m from Durham County Council and North of Tyne Combined Authority through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to work together to help strengthen business in the North East, driving forward the Levelling Up agenda and growing the region’s economy.

Over the last five years Newcastle University’s flagship business support programme, Arrow, has helped regional SMEs innovate by connecting them with expertise from Newcastle University, strengthening the local economy along the way.

In-TUNE is driving the expansion of Arrow across the region, and organisations in County Durham and North of Tyne Combined Authority areas can now access innovation support from all four North East universities to develop new products and processes.

In-TUNE is also supporting Northern Accelerator, an innovative programme led by Durham University in collaboration with Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland, Teesside and York Universities to commercialise research and create real-world impact.

Among the North East firms to benefit are:


Nanovery is a cutting-edge biotech company developing nanorobots that will be used to diagnose deadly diseases at an early stage. Nanovery’s technology has the potential to dramatically reduce the cost and turnaround time of a liquid biopsy, making it more accessible to patients and healthcare providers.

The Arrow project allowed Nanovery to test their prototype in a lab with clinically relevant cell lines. The team gained insight into the type of data they needed to validate their technology.

The results from this project helped Nanovery secure Innovate UK grant funding which allowed the company to set up operations in the Biosphere at Newcastle Helix. The company has now raised in £1.85million investment, employs a team of nine and hosts two PhD students from Newcastle University to develop their diagnostic test.

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Northern Accelerator has supported Northumbria University spinout PulmoBioMed Ltd. Led by Northumbria’s Professor Sterghios Moschos, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of PulmoBioMed, and with InnovateUK ICURe support, the team has developed PBM-HALE™, the most reliable device for retrieving uncontaminated samples of the deep lung, entirely non-invasively. This device could revolutionise the early diagnosis and speed of treatment for patients suffering from a range of conditions, including asthma, lung cancer, paediatric wheeze, and lung infections. PulmoBioMed is in the final stages of closing its first investment round with terms agreed with a UK lead investor.

Magnitude Biosciences

Based at County Durham’s NETPark, Magnitude Biosciences is bringing the power of C. elegans technology to industry to accelerate drug discovery, help find new supplements and make products less toxic. C. elegans were the first multicellular organisms to have their complete genome sequenced and have been a powerful model in academic biology for years. Magnitude now aims to bring that power to sectors such as biotech, health products and manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals.