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Research England (@ResEngland) is investing over £5.5 million of Connecting Capability Fund (CCF) money to strengthen commercialization and job creation in the north of England.

Announced today in support of the government’s ambitious new Innovation Strategy, this investment is part of a wider £25 million boost to the CCF, following on from £86.4 million invested from 2018 to 2021 that stimulated growth and innovation across the country.

In total, eleven projects based in all regions of England are receiving further funding. They include projects relating to green economic growth in line with the UK’s COP26 priorities, treating infectious diseases, and drug discovery, with a focus on commercialization.

Executive Chair of Research England David Sweeney said:

“I am pleased to be able to invest further in Research England’s successful CCF programme. Follow on funded projects demonstrate the diversity, importance and innovation of UK university commercialisation practice.

“This includes the power of university support to spin out new companies and raise business and private investment, spreading the benefits from science and research around the country.”

University of Keele Vice-Chancellor, Research England Knowledge Exchange champion and chair of the CCF and follow on funding panel Trevor McMillan said:

“The CCF programme has demonstrated the diverse ways in which universities and businesses can join forces to drive economic growth across the country, addressing the Government’s levelling up priorities.

“Projects have already delivered a step change in university-business engagement, and follow on funding will drive this further, deepening knowledge collaborations and tech clusters to build back better.” 

Greater Manchester business leaders respond to Innovation Strategy and funding for Rochdale’s Advanced Machinery and Productivity Institute (AMPI)

Juergen Maier, Joanne Roney and Councillor Neil Emmott have responded to the Innovation Strategy launched today by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, which includes £22.6m in funding for the Advanced Machinery and Productivity Institute (AMPI) in Rochdale.

Juergen Maier, Chair of the Greater Manchester Graphene, Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Alliance (GAMMA) and Innovation Greater Manchester steering group member, said:

 “We welcome the plans outlined by the Government, which recognise innovation must be at the forefront of our plan for growth.

“It is fantastic to see the Advanced Machinery and Productivity Institute (AMPI) receiving further support. The AMPI will create a centre of manufacturing excellence in and around Rochdale, and will be a major asset for the manufacturing sector in the wider North. It is a prime example of what can be achieved when partners from industry, academia and local and national government work together.

“Through Innovation Greater Manchester we have a blueprint for replicating this approach across our city-region, with Innovation Zones across our towns and cities creating jobs, attracting investment and generating world-changing ideas.

“The Prime Minister said in his Levelling Up speech that areas should come forward with a plan underpinned by strong, accountable leadership – that is exactly what we are doing through AMPI and the wider Innovation Greater Manchester vision.”

Joanne Roney, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Lead Chief Executive for Economy, said: 

“Supporting innovation will be crucial to our national ambitions of levelling up the country and sustaining the economic recovery beyond the pandemic.

“To fulfil the ambitions it has set out, the Government must commit to working closely with regional partners to ensure places can reach their full potential. Innovation Greater Manchester is our blueprint for harnessing the innovation that already goes on – a dynamic partnership driving benefit from the research excellence of our universities and creating new high-quality employment across the city-region.

“From the Industrial Revolution through to the development of graphene, Greater Manchester has been a global centre for advances in science and technology. Today we have world-class assets in areas like health innovation and advanced materials, as well as digital and low carbon, and stand ready to support the jobs and industries of the future.”

Councillor Neil Emmott, leader of Rochdale Borough Council, said:

 “The incredible AMPI project, which received another boost earlier this year from the Towns Fund, will be a game changer. It will transform our borough into a major centre of activity for advanced machinery, which will see the National Physical Laboratory, universities and companies all come together to harness cutting edge technology and create hundreds of highly skilled jobs on our doorstep.

“These types of projects are often the preserve of big cities, but from our days as a global leader in the textile trade, we’ve always liked to do things differently here. That’s why we’re working hard through our growth plan to futureproof our economy and keep bringing those new and rare opportunities into the borough.

“I’m proud that the council, Rochdale Development Agency, local businesses and education partners have worked together with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the National Physical Laboratory to make this project a reality. It has been an incredible boroughwide effort, but its impact will be felt on a regional and national scale.”

An engine for growth

One of the main aims of this investment is to drive economic growth through university-business innovation. Two of the biggest projects being funded through the latest round of CCF are the Northern Gritstone initiative and the Northern Accelerator.

Northern Gritstone are receiving £2 million to deliver an ambitious £500 million venture fund in the North West and Yorkshire. This brings their total CCF funding to £7 million.

The Northern Accelerator is receiving £3,563,439, bringing their total investment to £8,497,206. This will strengthen the commercialization ecosystem in the north east and will establish an £80 million venture fund.

Further support to the north of England will come through £1,812,000 of funding to the THYME project, which will support the biotechnology sector in the Tees Valley, the Humber Region and Yorkshire. In addition, other funded projects are aimed at regions across England, including these in the north.

Continuing success

The CCF has a proven track record of stimulating economic growth, skills and jobs through innovation. As a result of the first round of CCF funding:

  • more than 4,760 people received training in commercialization skills
  • 735 businesses were engaged directly in projects, with a further 4,377 engaged in the projects’ wider works
  • 49 spinouts were created from the projects, with more in the pipeline
  • 1,523 new products and processes were developed, or are currently in development
  • an additional £152 million in funding was attracted

Further information

The projects receiving funding through CCF are:

  • Northern Gritstone initiative – follow on award of £2,000,000 over 1 year (total award £7 million), to deliver an ambitious £500 million venture fund in the North West and Yorkshire.
  • Northern Accelerator – award of £3,563,439 over 2 years (total award £8,497,206) to strengthen the North East commercialization ecosystem and establish a £80 million venture fund
  • Connecting Capabilities in Advanced Therapies - £1,320,000 over 1 year (total award £6,242,055) to take technology specific approaches to advanced therapies commercialisation from London to other key regional clusters around the country.
  • UK SPINE KE: - is awarded £1,640,000 over 1 year (total award £6,460,000) to target one of the Grand challenges, aging society, through a drug discovery network across six hubs forming a ‘spine’ connecting the length of the UK’s geography.
  • THYME: Teesside, Hull and York - Mobilising Bioeconomy Knowledge Exchange – Follow on funding total of £1,812,000 over 1 year (total award £6,812,000) to support key Government Priorities in the Bioeconomy Strategy across the Tees Valley, the Humber Region and Yorkshire.
  • SPRINT – SPace Research & Innovation Network for Technology – An award of £1,998,503 over a 1 year period (total award £6,794,503) to significantly enhance strategic knowledge exchange driven business innovation within the space sector through expansion of regional clusters.
  • A Social sciences Platform for Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Transformation (ASPECT) – award of £2,400,000 over 2 years (total award £7,400,000) to scale up the social sciences commercialization ecosystem through expanding the membership across the UK and internationally whilst developing ambitious interdisciplinary venture building activities.
  • The Bloomsbury SET: - follow on funding award £1,900,000 over 1 year (total award £6,860,000) to enable the accelerated commercialization of new products and therapeutics arising from innovative research focused on solutions to emerging and endemic infectious diseases.
  • SETsquared across Sectors in the South of England (SaSSE) - £3,300,000 over 2 years (total award £8,300,000) to develop a £140 million investment fund to support scale up of spin-outs through the launch of a new national collaboration and expansion of partnerships.
  • Clean Growth UK – award £1,376,170 over 1 year (total award £4,876,170) to develop a truly national innovation ecosystem supporting a green economic recovery.
  • MedTech SuperConnector – follow on funding of £3,457,408 over 2 years (total award £8,404,408) to address the challenges facing MedTech development through generation of a venture accelerator which will support regional expansion.

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