Midlands Mindforge will raise up to $309m, having been co-founded by eight universities located in the UK’s Midlands region.

a digital graphic illustrating quantum computing

Eight universities located in the UK’s Midlands region today announced the creation of Midlands Mindforge, an investment company that will raise up to £250m ($309m) to invest in spinouts.

The founding consortium consists of Aston University, University of Birmingham, Cranfield University, Keele University, University of Leicester, Loughborough University, University of Nottingham and University of Warwick.

The investment company builds on an existing partnership between the universities, Midlands Innovation. It will look to secure patient capital from corporates, institutional investors and qualifying individuals.

Midlands Mindforge will focus on early-stage IP-rich businesses, in sectors such as cleantech, artificial intelligence and computational science, life sciences and healthtech.

Prof Trevor McMillan, chairman of Midlands Innovation 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 postgraduate 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.”

The eight universities accounted for a combined 1,463 invention disclosures in the 2020/21 year (the latest available data), putting Midlands Innovation ahead of any comparable university groupings.

The Midlands are home to nearly 650,000 businesses and in 2020, the region accounted for 15% of the country’s high-growth small and medium-sized enterprises. However, the region only attracted 5% of UK investments.

Sir John Peace, chairman of the Midlands Engine Partnership, 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.”

Thierry Heles

Thierry Heles is the editor of Global University Venturing, host of the Beyond the Breakthrough interview podcast and responsible for the monthly GUV Gazette (sign up here for free).