A university spin-outs vehicle which has raised hundreds of millions of pounds to back some of Britain’s most promising start-ups is investing a seven-figure sum into a low-carbon bioplastics developer.
Sky News understands that Northern Gritstone is leading a funding round for Floreon, which deploys a technology created at the University of Sheffield.
Floreon, which was founded by Shaun Chatterton, an entrepreneur, in 2011, has pioneered the use of a range of bioplastics made from plants including corn and sugar-cane.
Its performance is comparable to that of the common plastic polymer used widely in the automotive sector, in electrical appliances and toys.
“Everyday oil-based plastics are contributing to the global environmental crisis,” Mr Chatterton, who now chairs Floreon, said.
“Our vision is to offer brands an alternative product and through this transform the global plastics market.”
Duncan Johnson, the chief executive of Northern Gritstone, said Floreon had developed “an innovative and unique technology that offers producers a genuine route to reducing the environmental impact of their plastic products”.
“This truly fits into Northern Gritstone’s ‘Profit with Purpose’ philosophy helping to create the world class businesses of tomorrow from the world class science that exists in the North of England today.”
The investment in Floreon adds to a growing list of businesses which Northern Gritstone has backed over the last 12 months, having recently completed a £312m fundraising from pension funds and institutional investors.
It is fast-becoming one of the UK’s most prolific investors into academic spin-outs and intellectual property-rich businesses.
Founded by the universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield, its own investors include M&G Investments, Lansdowne Partners and Andrew Law, the CEO of hedge fund Caxton Associates, who has invested in a personal capacity.
The vehicle is focused on spinouts in sectors such as advanced materials, energy, health technology and cognitive computation.
Combined, the universities boast a talent pool of more than 8,400 dedicated researchers and 33,000 postgraduate students.
They generate an annual income of over £2.6bn, and have been home to 38 Nobel Prize winners.