Friday, November 6, 2015

News: Innovation District idea takes shape

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Proposals for a Sheffield-Rotherham Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID) have been shortlisted for an award that explores the opportunities of city devolution.

Recognising that high value manufacturing can be key to driving innovation, productivity and exports, civic leaders have committed to the idea of "supercharging" the areas of advanced manufacturing in the Sheffield-Rotherham Economic Corridor. 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 submission based on the idea to the Lambert Smith Hampton Enterprise Award has reached the final, highlighting how the property industry can play a central role in shaping the future of the UK. The award, which has a total prize fund of £15,000, will be judged by a panel of leading experts from across the industry.

Submitted on behalf of Harworth Estates, the owner and developer of the Waverley site in Rotherham, and Sheffield Business Park, the entry details the potential £600m centre of excellence in metals and materials manufacturing and plans to transform the current AMP and Sheffield Business Park into a central hub to the Innovation District.

A key part of the AMID, the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing recently secured outline planning permission to expand from the AMP, over onto Sheffield Business Park. A move that is set to create a combined research campus that will cover over 100 acres.

It is expected that the district would unlock private sector investment through increased R&D spend and inward investment. The AMRC campus aims to attract private sector partners to co-locate, as seen with Rolls-Royce investing over £100m in Rotherham. Proposers estimate that R&D spending across the Sheffield city region's (SCR's) manufacturing base could be increased though a range of innovation and supply chain programmes.

In the latest devolution deal negotiations, the city region asked for £250m to support the proposed AMID. Whilst not yet coming up with the money, the Government will offer the city region expert advice and support to ensure they are able to put forward a 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.

Ezra Nahome, CEO of Lambert Smith Hampton, said: "Devolution presents a real opportunity for the property industry to help tackle some of the UK's most pressing issues. We knew that there was huge amount of clever thinking within our industry, but that too often it hadn't been given a chance to see the light of day. The Enterprise Award was launched to help change that and, given the calibre of the entries in the shortlist, I'd argue that we have collectively succeeded in unleashing the sector's creativity.

"The shortlisted entries for the Enterprise Award showcase the best and most creative thinking that will be required if devolution is to become a success. These Award entries provide food for thought for not just the property industry but for UK plc and policymakers."

The Sheffield city region bid focuses on ways in which the property industry can play a key role. These includes: closer collaboration with councils, the local enterprise partnership and universities; work on competitive new land and property funds to open up speculative development; and act as ambassadors for the region.


Images: AMRC / Bond Bryan

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