Making connections that count: driving innovation to make a difference

Dr Martin Stow, Nexus Director stood in a casual pose in front of a wall in the Nexus building. The wall reads where ideas come together.

Nexus Director, Dr Martin Stow, takes us through the past 12 months at Nexus and how we’re making connections that count for our community.

From changes and challenges, to the opportunities and impact the Nexus community continue to make for the Leeds City Region and beyond – it’s been a busy year.

Find out what’s in store for us next.


It’s been another year of change and challenge for business and there is no doubt that we will face further challenges in what is an unpredictable world. 

But with change comes opportunity and when I look at this year and back to the launch of Nexus three years ago, what I see time and again is that challenges drive entrepreneurs and focus brilliant academic minds.  

I continue to be inspired by the Nexus community and our ever-expanding wider circle of colleagues, entrepreneurs, academics, mentors and supporters, who are driving innovation to make a real difference to society. 

Our community has more than doubled over the last year to 110 businesses and those businesses have been responsible for creating more than 175 new jobs. The University has also provided vital talent for Nexus member businesses, with many internships and Masters projects leading to full time careers. 

Those are pretty phenomenal achievements against a backdrop of the pandemic and sustained pressure on the economy. Challenges remain, of course, but there is real opportunity to build on those achievements and continue to grow our inspirational community. 

I often liken Nexus to a start-up business. We needed to demonstrate proof of concept, present a viable business model and commercialise, ensuring we could continue to invest in our offer and services.  

We’re now ready to scale at pace and I’m looking forward to working with our team and colleagues at the University of Leeds, to scope out the next stage of our expansion in the city and across our region. 

Our international reputation continues to grow as we attract global companies looking for a UK base to accelerate their growth. Businesses based in Estonia, the US, Canada, Italy, France and New Zealand have now joined our community and we have a strong pipeline from across the world. 

Photo looking down over people working in the Nexus atrium


We’re at the heart of a city which is seen as a centre of excellence and innovation in healthcare – especially in digital health – and I’m always delighted when we’re able to showcase the entrepreneurs and businesses here, who are harnessing innovation to address health inequalities and to deliver better diagnoses and targeted treatments.  

We’re an integral part of the newly-launched Leeds Innovation Arc – the innovation neighbourhoods formed around our universities and the proposed new adult and children’s hospitals in the city. 

That sees us working in close collaboration with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds City Council and an extensive network of businesses and partner organisations, to drive innovation-led growth. 

None of this would be possible without investment, of course, and again the Nexus team continues to play a fundamental role in helping businesses to attract and secure vital funding. This year we helped Nexus businesses raise £35.8 million of private investment and working with colleagues across the University of Leeds, our community has received over £16.5 million in public collaborative research funding. 

Our team is working closely with Northern Gritstone – the north of England investment company focused on spin-out businesses from the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester – to seek investment for Nexus businesses from its £215 million fund and we’ll continue to help our community benefit from this and other schemes to fund their research and grow. 

Our professional services partners provide invaluable support here and this year saw the launch of the KPMG@Nexus incubator space, which is already working with six scale-up businesses as they move to the next stage of their growth. Law firm Squire Patton Boggs and IP specialists HGF, also continue to provide our member business with vital advice and guidance. 

Two women sat on causal seating engaged in conversation as a third woman walks past


I’m incredibly proud of the Nexus team and the part they have all played in achieving phenomenal results this year, in challenging times. The relationship they have with our community is what makes Nexus so special and that can be seen across every aspect of our business engagement, from communications to our inspiring events programme – it’s so good to be back to meeting people in person again. 

Going back to the theme of innovation driving change, what I’m most proud of is how that success translates into real world issues and challenges. Nexus is a catalyst for collaboration – driving the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation and facilitating the development of groundbreaking products and services, which make a positive impact on the environment and people’s lives. 

As we look forward to the next year and beyond, I can’t wait to see how our community will continue to make a difference.