Midlands universities establish investment company to boost UK ‘superpower’ status

Eight research intensive universities in the Midlands have established a new investment company to accelerate the commercialisation of university spinouts and early-stage IP rich businesses in the region.

Midlands Mindforge Limited has been co-founded by Aston University, University of Birmingham, Cranfield University, Keele University, University of Leicester, Loughborough University, University of Nottingham and University of Warwick, collectively Midlands Innovation.

This ambitious, patient capital investment company plans to raise up to £250 million from strategic corporate partners, institutional investors and qualifying individuals. It aims to transform ground-breaking science and technology into successful businesses with real-world impact.

Midlands Mindforge will help to address the significant funding deficit for early-stage technology businesses in the region. Through the combination of additional capital and company-building skills, Midlands Mindforge will lay the foundations of a more vibrant ecosystem for emerging science-backed companies in areas such as Clean Technology, AI and Computational Science, Life Sciences and Health Tech.

Professor Trevor McMillan OBE, Chair of Midlands Innovation Board and Vice Chancellor of Keele University said: “We have one of the largest research communities in the UK with more than 14,500 academics who have a strong track record collaborating on innovative research ideas that turn spinouts into successful businesses.

“This new company creates an ecosystem to better support our research entrepreneurs and encourage innovation. By cultivating an environment where post graduate students and researchers with commercial ideas can benefit from early access to investment, we can create opportunities for our people, place and partnership to flourish.

“Midlands Mindforge will allow our universities to scale-up their research and enterprise activity. It is a catalyst for building ground-breaking businesses that help to boost economic growth, create highly-skilled jobs and support the UK’s bid to be a global science and technology superpower.”

Collectively, the eight founding universities have the most post-graduate students, the highest levels of annual income, more research disclosures and patents generated per unit of research spend in the last three years, in comparison to any other UK university grouping.

Minister of State for Science, Research & Innovation George Freeman MP said: “Commercialising UK science & technology for global industrial adoption has never been more urgent – for both the UK economy and the global resource challenges facing us. The Midlands Innovation universities are driving a new era of innovation from robotics and advanced manufacturing to life science and autonomous vehicles and much more.

“As we in Government increase UK public R&D to a record £20 billion a year, the key is private finance backing spinouts and scale-ups. The Midlands is rapidly becoming a world class UK cluster of excellence and Midlands Mindforge will play a key role in bringing global investors to help back world class companies.”

Chairman of the Midlands Engine Partnership, Sir John Peace, said: “The Midlands has always been associated with exceptional invention and creativity, but has long experienced significant underinvestment and consequently productivity levels have lagged behind the rest of the UK.

“This bold and ambitious initiative led by the Midlands Innovation universities has the potential to help close the investment gap, supporting our region to reach its true potential for sustainable economic growth.

“Midlands Mindforge will help to further fast-track commercialisation of research ideas, creating a more resilient economy and playing an important role in levelling up the Midlands.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “A key part of my mayoral mission is to drive our regional recovery forward and help generate the high-quality jobs of the future in order to improve quality of life for local people. This exciting new investment vehicle will very much support that mission – planting the seeds for long-term sustainable economic growth here in the West Midlands.

“Many brilliant ideas and top businesses have spun out from Midlands universities and this new venture will help us to advance that agenda and retain more of our innovative success stories within our region.

“Together we can better nurture the enterprising talent on our doorstep and this new endeavour creates a wonderful opportunity to do just that.”

Media contact: Sarah Howells, Communications and Marketing Manager for Midlands Innovation sarah.howells@nottingham.ac.uk

© Midlands Mindforge