Wednesday, September 3, 2014

News: What's the big idea?

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There are not enough significant, ambitious and commercially sustainable new projects in the Sheffield city region to transform the economy.

The Chambers of Commerce for Sheffield, Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham and Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, have joined forces to create the Big Investment Project (BIP) to help identify and develop more transformational and iconic projects.

The Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) submitted its final Strategic Economic Plan in April which set an ambitious target of creating 70,000 new jobs in the Sheffield City Region by 2023. The Government has pulled together £295.2m to support economic growth in the area. Although not necessarily "new money," it is set to bring forward at least £410m of additional investment from local partners and the private sector. Combined together this will create a total new investment package of £707.3m for the Sheffield City Region LEP.

Much of the early investment is in new transport infrastructure, unlocking development sites to create jobs, but now more big investment projects in the city region, put forward by businesses and individuals, are set to be identified, refined, and presented to investment fund managers who are set to visit the region early next year.

Project backers say that they have identified significant fund holders in London waiting to invest but added that they do not have the projects to invest in.

BIP will act as a catalyst to generate projects typically above £10m and up to £75m that are of "national significance, ambitious and commercially sustainable that will, of themselves or by acting as catalysts, generate significant new opportunities for businesses and people in the region."

They will be evaluated by a board which includes includes Justin Urquhart Stewart (Seven Investment Management), Sir Keith Burnett (University of Sheffield Vice Chancellor), Dave Hanney (formerly of Planet X), John Hayward (Chief Executive Officer of Pressure Technologies plc), David Thurkettle (Director of PWC and vice president of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce), Jill Thomas (Managing Director of Future Life Wealth Management) and Richard Spacey (Vestra Ventures).

Support will be then provided to work-up identified schemes with individuals and their teams to generate a Sheffield city region prospectus featuring each of the projects ahead of the funders' roadshow in the Spring of 2015.

David Thurkettle, Director of PWC and vice president of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said: "Through the Chambers – the four biggest business representative organisations in the region – we really want to give the economy locally a step change by identifying and providing relevant support to some large, transformational projects.

"The ideas could come from any sector. It is about finding the best ones that could make a real difference.

"We hope that there will be at least three or four successfully funded projects that will emerge. Given the nature of the schemes being sought, these are unlikely to be running before 2016 at the earliest."

James Newman, chair of the Sheffield City Region LEP, added: "Recent economic reports have shown a massive gap in our GVA of £3.2bn annually when compared with other regions. We also need to create a larger private sector. Clearly this cannot be achieved by internal growth alone.

"There is a need to encourage a number of large transformational investments addressing gaps in our capability and connecting to our existing economy with the international economies of the future."

BIP will be launched on September 23 at a special event at Sheffield's Millennium Galleries in the build-up to MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival.

BIP website

Images: bip.uk.com/

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