Monday, January 19, 2015

News: University backs Innovation District idea

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The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing in Rotherham is set to play a key role in the economic growth of the city region after the university backed an ambitious plan to create the first Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District in the UK.

Unveiled last week by Sheffield and Rotherham councils, it will be Europe's largest research-led Advanced Manufacturing cluster, centred around the Sheffield-Rotherham corridor, which is already home to the AMRC and the wider Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) at Waverley.

Recognising that high value manufacturing can be key to driving innovation, productivity and exports - not just for Sheffield City Region and the wider Northern powerhouse, but for the UK as a whole - civic leaders have committed to the idea of "supercharging" the advanced manufacturing cluster and the Sheffield-Rotherham Economic Corridor. A masterplan for the potential Innovation District is being produced by an external consultant that will be used as a bidding document for accessing monies through the Government's Growth Deal and other funding sources.

The district would build on existing links between universities and the private sector but develop added urban characteristics such as improved transport, housing and amenities making them "liveable, walkable, bike-able, and transit connected."

Professor Richard Jones, Pro-Vice Chancellor for research and innovation at the University of Sheffield, said: "We're committed as a university to working with the city, region and private sector partners to help revitalise our economy through innovation and skills.

"Our AMRC is recognised internationally for its work with both global and local companies; with the new Apprentice Training Centre in operation, Factory 2050 under construction, and Sheffield's outstandingly innovative companies, we're seeing the rise, in our city, of a powerful innovation cluster for high value manufacturing."

The announcement comes during a three-day visit to Sheffield and Rotherham from Bruce Katz, Vice President of the Washington DC-based Brookings Institution and author of "The Rise of Innovation Districts."

Cllr. Dominic Beck, Cabinet Member for Business Growth and Regeneration at Rotherham Council, said: "This is the future. The Innovation District is a direct progression of our work on inward investment, our Advanced Manufacturing Park and support for business - crucial drivers in expanding and strengthening our Rotherham and City Region economy and creating long-term quality jobs.

"The development will create an integrated metropolitan hub of world-leading hi-tech, innovative companies and communities where people can live. It also shows the scale of our ambition for the whole of Rotherham.

"We've always said that while the AMP may be in Rotherham, it is a regional and UK resource to take on the world. The Innovation District will also be a global leader.

"Having Bruce Katz here, the internationally respected advocate of this way to the future, shows that the City Region is heading in the right direction.

"As the rest of the world moves forward, we'll be in the forefront, where we have already staked our place."

During his visit Katz visited the AMRC and companies including Forgemasters, the Tata Proving Factory at Newburgh Precision Engineering and Alcoa.

AMRC website

Images: AMRC / Bond Bryan

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