Life sciences startups across the North are set for a boost with the launch of a new £500k accelerator which was announced at the fifth annual BioCap Conference, held at Alderley Park on Thursday, 29th September.
The North of England Life Science Accelerator has been set up by a group featuring science park operator Manchester Science Partnerships, bioscience incubation centre BioCity, investment firms Catapult Ventures and Alderley Park Ventures (APV), university collaboration N8 Research Partnership and the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA).
NELSA will be based at Alderley Park and aims to support young life science businesses across the North by providing seed funding for up to 10 early-stage commercialisation projects for a maximum of 12 months.
It is hoped that the cash would allow businesses to carry out proof-of-concept research, but eligible firms will also be offered additional support such as workshops, coaching and mentors.
Companies will also be given access to the facilities and equipment at Alderley Park.
To be eligible, startups must work in the fields of life sciences and healthcare, covering areas such as diagnostics, therapeutics, devices and digital.
Ned Wakeman, the director of BioCity, which manages Alderley Park's BioHub, said: "BioCity's programmes have already proven highly successful in supporting the creation and growth of successful life science companies.
"Joining forces with great innovation originating from within N8 Research Partnership, combined with clinical access and validation from within NHSA, and funding will help promising life sciences businesses bring great ideas to commercial reality."
He added: "Alderley Park is the logical base for the accelerator."
BioCity Group investment manager Claire Brown commented: "The quality of our universities means that there is a wealth of talent operating in the Northern region, producing world-class research, but without the right funding it is extremely difficult for spin-out companies to be formed and for this research to be commercialised.
"We believe the ecosystem we have here will help retain and attract the brightest life sciences talent."
Dr Peter Simpson, director of the N8 Research Partnership, which comprises the North's eight most research-intensive universities, said: "The translation of world-class basic research into new commercial opportunities and businesses is critical for Northern economic growth and resilience.
"I look forward to the great ideas and innovations from N8 universities being helped by this programme to become sustainable and flourishing life science businesses."