The unwitting inventor of a brand new “surprise materials” which turns into thicker the extra it stretches is elevating funding from certainly one of Britain’s most distinguished college spinout ventures.
Sky Information can reveal that Northern Gritstone, which is chaired by the previous Treasury minister and Goldman Sachs economist Lord O’Neill, is making a seed funding in LC AuxeTec.
Established by Professor Helen Gleeson, former head of the physics division on the College of Leeds, LC AuxeTec claims to have developed the world’s first materials that’s auxetic on the molecular degree – which means it turns into thicker slightly than thinner when stretched.
In nature, a cloth’s skill to react on this means – its auxeticity – may be present in an individual’s Achilles tendon, and in cats’ pores and skin.
The invention has excited traders due to its potential software to supplies used for shock absorption and which require qualities resembling sturdiness and robustness.
One individual aware of the corporate’s work described it as “a surprise materials”.
LC AuxeTec was successfully created accidentally, when Prof Gleeson and her colleagues have been exploring the semi-soft elasticity of liquid crystal elastomers and realised the potential to develop auxetic supplies utilizing them.
Northern Gritstone is collaborating in LC AuxeTec’s £2m seed funding spherical, marking the primary time it has invested in a Leeds spinout firm.
The deal is anticipated to be introduced publicly on Wednesday.
The brand new capital will assist the enterprise increase its staff and start testing the fabric’s industrial makes use of in areas resembling polymers for wind generators and laminated security glass for automotive functions.
It has simply appointed Robert Gunn, beforehand the CEO of consultancy enterprise Enceladus Ventures, as its chief government, and Matt Reynolds as senior engineer.
Prof Gleeson, who received the Instances Greater Schooling Award for Excellent Analysis Supervisor of the 12 months in 2018, mentioned: “Once we found that our supplies have been auxetic on the molecular degree, we started to understand the alternatives that they might maintain throughout quite a lot of totally different industries as they are often stretched additional than different supplies already obtainable.
“As we proceed to check the properties of our materials and increase our understanding of what’s achievable, Northern Gritstone’s funding will allow Robert and his new staff to start out making these potential use instances a actuality.”
Duncan Johnson, Northern Gritstone chief government, mentioned: “In pushing the boundaries of their analysis to develop a singular auxetic materials, Helen and her staff have showcased Northern universities’ skill to drive innovation and create world-leading companies within the area.
“This funding will assist guarantee LC AuxeTec’s know-how reaches its full potential and maximise alternatives for industrial use.”
Northern Gritstone, which intends to grow to be one of many UK’s most prolific traders into tutorial spin-outs and mental property-rich companies, was based by the schools of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield.
It has raised lots of of tens of millions of kilos from backers together with M&G Investments, Lansdowne Companions and Andrew Regulation, the CEO of hedge fund Caxton Associates, who has invested in a private capability.
The automobile is targeted on spinouts in sectors resembling superior supplies, power, well being know-how and cognitive computation.
Mixed, the schools boast a expertise pool of greater than 8,400 devoted researchers and 33,000 postgraduate college students.
They generate an annual earnings of over £2.6bn, and have been house to 38 Nobel Prize winners.