Jim O’Neill, Duncan Johnson and Russell Schofield-Bezer will lead the investment company set up by the universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield.

Northern Gritstone, the UK-based investment company co-founded by the universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield, unveiled its leadership today with Duncan Johnson as chief executive.

Jim O’Neill has been appointed non-executive chairman, while Russell Schofield-Bezer will serve as chief operating officer. The three are joined by Alex Macpherson and Andrew Graham as independent non-executive directors.

Johnson joins Northern Gritstone from investment trust Caledonian Private Capital, where he was head of private capital for 10 years.

O’Neill, a life peer with the title Baron O’Neill of Gatley, is an economist whose long career has included stints as chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management and commercial secretary to the treasury for the UK government in 2015 and 2016.

While working as a government minister, O’Neill was responsible for overseeing the Northern Powerhouse project, a government initiative to economically reinvigorate the northern regions of England and Wales. He is currently vice-chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.

Schofield-Bezer has been an independent investment adviser to University of Manchester Innovation Factory, the institution’s tech transfer organisation, since April 2020 and a consultant on Northern Gritstone.

He previously spent more than 13 years at financial services HSBC, most recently as chief investment officer of HSBC Private Bank USA from 2016 to 2020, and before this worked for JPMorgan Chase for more than 15 years.

The appointments will become effective September 1, 2021.

Johnson said: “I am honoured and delighted to be leading Northern Gritstone. Our ambition is to drive returns by establishing a world-leading ecosystem of support and funding, built upon the concepts and inventions that the founding universities and the company’s other partners, have developed.

“I have been particularly impressed with how the firm has brought together a highly experienced team which blends deep investment management with business-building expertise, all united by a core belief that profitable organisations delivering top-quartile returns to shareholders should have a wider societal purpose.”

Global University Venturing took an in-depth look at Northern Gritstone in April this year. We will further celebrate the region at the Go Further: Investment Index event on November 9, 2021, bringing together all the key players from that region and Scotland.