Tuesday, May 2, 2017

News: LEP aiming to secure sector deal to boost manufacturing

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The Sheffield City Region (SCR) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is working to secure a sector deal with the Government based around enhancing the city region's specialism in advanced manufacturing and engineering innovation.

A green paper was published earlier this year on a Industrial Strategy as a starting point on how central Government can work with industry to improve the economy by increasing productivity and driving growth across the whole country.

In responding to the consultation, the Sheffield City Region LEP, which brings together business leaders and local politicians to make decisions that drive economic growth and create new jobs, has picked out how the Government's initial work on sector deals could help grow the economy in the SCR.

The Government has set an "open door" challenge to industry to come up with proposals to transform and upgrade their sector through sector deals. Whilst not about the Government providing additional funding, businesses, stakeholders and universities are expected to work to produce a clear proposal for boosting the productivity of their sector. The focus will be on supply chains, innovation, clusters, exports, skills and commercialising research.

Work is already underway for sector deals on life sciences, low emission vehicles, industrial digitalisation, nuclear and creative industries.

And the SCR is keen to secure a sector deal based around the existing assets in metals, materials and engineering, including the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, the emerging Sheffield-Rotherham Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID), and Aerocentre Yorkshire around Doncaster‐Sheffield Airport (DSA).

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The LEP's response to the consultations states: "High value manufacturing and engineering, underpinned by AMID and Aerocentre, has the potential to raise productivity and narrowing the gap to the UK average in SCR. The scale of opportunity of these assets is reflected in their inclusion within the Department for Internal Trade's Northern Powerhouse Pitchbook.

"The growth over the past five years is an indication of the potential of this sector. However, it is being held back by challenges which we believe act as disincentives for investment or entrepreneurship.  Our sector deal will seek to address four regional issues which we identify as barriers to growth. The sector deal will catalyse an SCR advanced manufacturing and engineering city region which spreads an advanced manufacturing culture of designing and developing new product solutions. This will identify new entrants and support existing businesses, with growth in supporting sectors and a confident, innovative workforce."

The four challenges have been outlined as increasing skill levels and attracting global talent, delivering inclusive growth, increasing internationalisation and recognition of the SCR and enabling smaller businesses to access the value‐added chain towards high‐tech processing.

An SCR Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Board is likely to be established to work on the deal with the Government with the intention of announcing a sector deal later this year.

In previous devolution proposals, the LEP asked for a £250m commitment from the Government, based around the AMID as a national demonstrator for place based innovation programmes. It added at the time that "Government investment will be matched by company investment at 50% and further leveraged through local resources to deliver a £600m science and innovation programme over five years."

Instead, the Government committed £37m in transport funding and funding for a science and innovation audit that showed that the SCR could equip the UK to deliver the "fourth industrial revolution" by creating a new Global Innovation Corridor.
Sir Nigel Knowles, Chair of the Sheffield City Region LEP, said: "Broadly speaking, the SCR welcomes the focus on developing an Industrial Strategy. But, and it's a big but, we believe that places with a track record of success such as ours should take a major lead in shaping and delivering that strategy.

"We want to ensure that local regions can play a larger part in delivery. And importantly we want to see increased devolution of powers and funding at the heart of the strategy. We want to scale this up and deliver even better outcomes.

"The SCR has a thriving manufacturing and engineering base and nationally significant assets on which the Industrial Strategy can build. For the first time in a generation employment has grown in these sectors in the City Region, creating high value jobs for the local economy."

SCR LEP website

Images: Nuclear AMRC / Bond Bryan


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