Monday, October 5, 2015

News: Sheffield city region can forge ahead

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The proposals to create an Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District in Sheffield and Rotherham seem to have found favour in Whitehall.

Based around the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham and surrounding Enterprise Zone, the aim is to develop Europe's largest research-led advanced manufacturing cluster. A spatial plan is expected to be complete by the end of 2015, including the exploration of a mass transit connection for the Innovation District.

The Sheffield City Region (SCR) has signed up to a devolution deal which the Government believes will enable it to strengthen its position as a world class centre for advanced manufacturing and engineering.

Choosing to sign the deal on the AMP, at the heart of the proposed Innovation District, is a strong indication that the Government is keen for the Sheffield city region to now make it a reality.

Professor Ridgway, executive dean of the AMRC, said: "We are honoured that the Chancellor and his Treasury team chose the AMRC, at the heart of the region's embryonic Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District, as the place to sign this historic accord.

"The AMRC has been the site for a number of ground breaking developments which have made a huge difference to British manufacturers' performance, competitiveness and their ability to maintain manufacturing capability in the UK.

"Now, it has been the location for a ground breaking deal that could not only give a tremendous economic boost to this region, but could also confirm its future as the place where Britain's manufacturing future is forged."
Whilst not yet coming up with the £250m commitment to the region as a national demonstrator for place based innovation programmes with LEPs, the Government will offer the Sheffield City Region expert advice and support to ensure they are able to put forward a City Region led proposal to undertake a Science and Innovation audit. This will, for example, provide government with part of the evidence base on which to make decisions on Catapult centres such as the AMRC and could be used to explore how to further the SCR's advantage in advanced manufacturing.

Other asks included special designation for the nationally significant Innovation District and a single pot fund for infrastructure funding to help bring forward a series of schemes against the AMID spatial plan.

Further detail on budgets are expected to be finalised in the Government's Autumn Spending Review but the proposal does include a new "gain share" deal within an envelope of £30m a year for 30 years – giving the SCR the power to use new funding to boost local growth and invest in local manufacturing and innovation.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, vice-chancellor at the University of Sheffield, said: "I am delighted that the Sheffield City Region has made this important devolution deal with government which has advanced manufacturing and innovation at its heart, as part of the wider Northern Powerhouse.

"The Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District and the University's state-of-the-art facilities there will play a central role in this, bringing benefits to jobs and the economy of the north and the UK as a whole."

"A plan for growth which brings together industry and research to make world leading products in the UK is exactly what we need to thrive. The University of Sheffield's AMRC is already delivering great results for the UK businesses which work with international leaders in state-o-the-art facilities, and we are working with them to provide the very highest quality advanced apprentices.

"But our vision is of something even bigger which will drive productivity and innovation across the UK, making this region the global first choice for advanced manufacturing - a Northern Powerhouse, which will boost global exports and supercharge productivity in the UK."

AMRC website

Images: AMRC

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