Friday, January 6, 2017

News: AMP Technology Centre sale moves nearer

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Rotherham Council's potential £7m acquisition of the AMP Technology Centre would secure local ownership and control of the incubation space and deliver a long term economic asset for the Sheffield city region.

Rothbiz revealed first that the authority was looking to purchase the building that provides incubation space on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP).

Initially developed by Yorkshire Forward, the AMP Technology Centre is now operated by Creative Space Management on behalf of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). The centre has been designed to accommodate a range of manufacturing-related activities, from fledgling engineering and technology companies, to University spin-offs and subsidiaries of established companies.

A report to council commissioners explains that the owners - the Government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has decided to sell the national assest "as it does not align with their core business" and has tasked the HCA to carry this out.

The council is in a position to buy the building as a member of the steering group and with access to unspent money via the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority (CA).

HCA and BEIS want the AMP Technology Centre to continue to operate to deliver the AMP vision and as such will not look to dispose of the asset on the open market, but will consider proposals from members of the AMPTC Steering Group. The desire is for any sale / disposal to be completed during the 2106/17 financial year.

The only other member of the steering group who could take the building on is the University of Sheffield which operates a number of advanced manufacturing research centres on the AMP.

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Recently celebrating its tenth anniversary since opening, the centre has attracted companies and organisations who saw strategic value in locating in close proximity to other companies and research organisations at the AMP as a mechanism for encouraging and promoting collaboration.

The centre is a key part of the emerging Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID) where the aim is to develop Europe's largest research-led advanced manufacturing cluster.

Rotherham Council submitted a number of bids to the Combined Authority when it was made clear that over £27m of funding for projects that benefit the local area and economy could be going back to the Government if it is not spent by the end of March.

The authority is set to find out this month if a £7m bid for capital money to acquire the building has been successful. Commissioner Kenny is being asked to approve recommendations that the Council progresses with the acquisition.

A report to next week's Cabinet and Commissioners' Decision Making Meeting states: "The proposed purchase by the Council seeks to secure local ownership and control of the AMPTC to deliver a long term economic asset for the City Region that will support the growth and competitiveness of the advanced manufacturing cluster. This will also create a recognised, highly visible and accessible central hub located on the AMP that has a key role in delivering the future success of the AMID concept."

The Council's regeneration arm, RiDO will be involved with the management of the asset, using its experience from the management of the Council's business incubation centres. This role is currently filled by Creative Space Management, who will continue until the end of their contract.

The centre currently makes a surplus and further work is being done on the financial viability of the asset and any potential clawback following the acquisition.

AMP Technology centre website
RiDO website

Images: Harworth Estates


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