The Innovation District – creating a world class research environment

June 9, 2017
By Edward Highfield Director of City Growth at Sheffield City Council And Board Member of Legacy Park Ltd
The Innovation District – creating a world class research environment
The Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID) is developing the region’s established strength for manufacturing and engineering into an international centre of advanced manufacturing for the 21st century. Partnerships between the public and private sector and Sheffield’s two leading universities are realising plans to develop a dynamic Innovation District; a great place to live, work and do business that will draw in talent, entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors.
AMID is accelerating the delivery of new technologies, resulting in commercial advantage for the Sheffield City Region and creating opportunities for trade and investment. The University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and the Olympic Legacy Park (OLP) are at the heart of AMID’s innovation strength and continuing to attract an ever-growing cluster of world leading firms.
In February, we were delighted to be able to announce several major deals that provide a boost to the region’s economy. Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company, has confirmed a multi-million-pound investment that includes plans to build their first European factory at the heart of AMID.
McLaren Automotive has also announced it is to open a research and production facility which will create 200 jobs, boosting the local economy by £100 million over the next 10 years. These investments provide a huge vote of confidence in our ability to combine R&D expertise with making things in industries with complexity and scale, where there is no room for error. These successes help raise positive profile and reinforce AMID’s growing national and international reputation.
The OLP forms an important part of the Innovation District; creating a world class research and innovation environment to produce new products, processes and services in healthcare technologies, sports and exercise medicine. The Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC), with research partners including Sheffield Hallam University, Toshiba and Westfield Health, emulates the AMRC’s successful model of university-industry collaboration. The OLP presents further opportunities to strengthen AMID’S ecosystem of small, medium, and large firms operating in the key growth sectors where Sheffield and Rotherham have identified strengths and specialisms; creating commercial solutions and selling into global healthcare supply chains.
The Innovation District aims to connect our centres of research excellence, including AWRC and AMRC, with our technical and manufacturing capability in the Lower Don Valley and along the corridors linking into the heart of Sheffield and Rotherham. To support these ambitions, we will need to develop a broader mix of housing and retail, higher development densities in key locations, enhanced landscapes and amenities, supportive business networks and connectivity via mass transit.
We are looking forward to bringing forward and realising these exciting investment and regeneration opportunities and see OLP as a positive catalyst for change, with a direct and visible impact on the development of the Attercliffe area of the City.
Strong collaborative leadership is important to deliver transformational projects. I’m looking forward to taking up my role on the OLP Board and playing an active part in helping shape a coherent policy mix that will create the right physical and economic conditions to deliver innovation-led growth.
Photo caption: Robot arm being used in the AMRC composite centre for gears and grinding.