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Northern Accelerator

Northern Accelerator

The North East’s universities are joining forces to commercialise research and boost the region’s economy after receiving £4.9m in Government funding.

The award comes from the Connecting Capability Fund (CCF), made by Research England, and announced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

It will see Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland universities working together to make a step change in delivering research to the marketplace and to develop entrepreneurship amongst their academics through an ideas impact hub and associated proof of concept support.

The project will build upon and take its name from, the existing Northern Accelerator programme – a collaboration between Durham and Newcastle universities that has built a network of entrepreneurs who are embedded at the earliest stages in the universities’ spin-out companies.

The project also aims to establish an ongoing North East University Investment Fund (NEUIF) to support research-based spin-out companies in the region long-term after the CCF funding comes to an end.

The Northern Accelerator project, which will be led by Durham University, will focus on four key areas of regional strength – advanced manufacturing, the chemicals and process sector, life sciences and healthcare and digital.

The CCF-funded Northern Accelerator project will run until 31 March 2021


Case Studies

North-East England’s universities have a strong track record in business and industry, turning research into commercial opportunities that create jobs and generate income for the region’s economy.

Below are just a few examples of successful research commercialisation at all stages from our partner universities:

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Based on technology developed by Durham University's Department of Physics, Kromek plc is one of the world’s leading providers of digital colour x-ray and gamma ray detection and imaging technologies.

The company's products are used in security screening, medical imaging and nuclear detection.

Based at NetPark, in Sedgefield, County Durham, Kromek has manufacturing facilities in the USA and sells internationally to a global blue-chip customer base. It employs over 50 people in North East England among a worldwide workforce of over 100.

Kromek's CEO Dr Arnab Basu has a PhD in physics from Durham University and received an MBE in 2014 for services to regional development and international trade.


Atelerix is the first Newcastle University spin-out company developed under Northern Accelerator.

Through the programme, the University was able to introduce an experienced business leader, Mick Mclean, to work alongside the University’s world-leading academics.

With Mick’s guidance, the company has produced a viable business plan and has raised seed capital investment to take the company forward.

The biotech spin-out is offering encapsulated human cells in an alginate gel made from seaweed, making them practical, adaptable and easy to store and transport, even at room temperature.


We all want bright, high quality displays and more battery life in our mobile devices.

Dr Valery Kozhevnikov at Northumbria University and in collaboration with Durham University has developed a new range of phosphorescent polymetallic Pt(II) and Ir(III) complexes with a dramatic improvement in efficiency.

This efficiency means that when used in an organic light emitting diode (OLED) screen it needs less power for the equivalent brightness. It also means that electricity is completely transferred into light, not into heat.

Since 2015 his team has been working closely with a large manufacturer to embed these in device screens.


At the University of Sunderland, Professor Roz Anderson is establishing a spin-out company to accelerate the development of new drugs developed with her team. Once fully established the new company plans to bring forward to the next stage of clinical trials a side-effect-free drug to treat Cystinosis – a rare, life-threatening genetic condition that causes lethal kidney failure before the age of 10 if untreated.