Pilot Innovation Accelerator Programme Sees Surge of Global Investment into Glasgow City Region

Prof Lee Cronin, University of Glasgow Regius Chair of Chemistry, and CEO of Chemify

GLASGOW City Region is seeing a multi-million-pound boost to private investment into the local innovation economy. This is thanks to a unique Innovation Accelerator programme, led by Innovate UK on behalf of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Department for Science and Innovation (DSIT).  

Glasgow City Region was selected as one of three high-potential innovation clusters to pilot the groundbreaking Innovation Accelerator programme, alongside Greater Manchester and the West Midlands. This unique pilot is aligned with the Government’s levelling-up agenda and takes a new co-creation approach to investment, reflecting that local leadership in Glasgow City Region has a tremendous understanding of the region’s strengths and how to develop them, and Innovate UK is able to connect these local strengths into national and global opportunities. By empowering local innovation, the programme works to drive regional economic growth and attract private R&D investment.

Glasgow City Region received a third of £100 million funding and is making significant strides with 11 ambitious projects that are now at their halfway mark. These projects play a vital role in Glasgow City Region’s local strategy, to boost venture capital and innovation investment in key growth sectors, including advanced manufacturing, space and precision medicine.  

One of these innovative projects is ‘Modular chemical robot farms for chemical manufacturing’, led by Chemify Limited, a spin-out from the University of Glasgow. Chemify is digitising chemistry, using a computing process that runs continuously from designing new molecules with artificial intelligence, to making them in an automated lab. 

After receiving £7.5 million through the Innovation Accelerator, Chemify has gone on to raise a further £28 million in funding from private investors from across the globe including Hong Kong and the US. Chemify also recently secured a new partnership to apply ground-breaking chemistry AI-robotics to accelerate the discovery of non-addictive opioids.

Susan Aitken, Chair of the Glasgow City Region Cabinet and Leader of Glasgow City Council said: “Glasgow City Region’s innovation economy is spinning out from the laboratories and tech spaces to contribute to the employment, training, and productivity outcomes our citizens need and economy demands.  The Innovation Accelerator programme has been critical to that. The surge in global investment that Chemify has received is just one of the major success stories resulting from this important programme. Partnership across all sectors and all layers of government is critical to driving forward innovation.”

Dean Cook, Director of Place and Levelling up at Innovate UK added: “This unique pilot has supported Glasgow City Region to innovate at pace and in a way never seen before, fostering co-creation between business, academia and national and local Government.  

“The Innovation Accelerator programme aims to demonstrate how partnership between a city region and UK Government provides synergy and can strengthen innovation clusters as well as catalyse strong local growth. Glasgow City Region leadership has tremendous knowledge of their R&D strengths and how to develop them, and Innovate UK can connect these local strengths into national and global opportunities. Learnings from the pilot programme are already feeding into how we evolve Innovate UK’s broader range of support for business, driving forward the UK as an outstanding place to innovate.”

Prof Lee Cronin, University of Glasgow Regius Chair of Chemistry, and CEO of Chemify said: “Chemify is aiming to be the Amazon Web Services for Chemistry, developing the critical infrastructure for drug and materials discovery and development. The Innovation Accelerator programme has been instrumental in moving more quickly to build the company and we are working towards opening our first Chemify ‘chemifarm’ in Glasgow later this year that will employ more than 100 people.”

The Innovation Accelerator pilot runs until March 2025, and full results and impacts will be shared later. For more information, visit the Innovation Accelerator Programme website. Innovate UK remains committed to pioneering solutions that strengthen the UK’s position in the global innovation landscape.

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