14 October 2016: Macclesfield, UK - Life sciences startups across the North are set for a boost with the launch of a new £500k accelerator.

The North of England Life Science Accelerator (NELSA) was announced at the fifth annual BioCap Conference, held this week (September 29) at the multi-million pound Alderley Park science campus in Cheshire.

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), the accelerator will be anchored at Alderley Park.

NELSA will aim 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. Further, companies will 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. All accelerator applications must be submitted by January 31 2017.

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.“

Gareth King, the life science partner at Catapult Ventures, said: “We’re excited to be involved in this new initiative and the potential to invest in and help build more innovative life science businesses.”