Sheffield and Rotherham reveal plan to create Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District

Published Friday, 16th January 2015
Businessman Bruce Katz
Businessman Bruce Katz

Sheffield and Rotherham have today unveiled an ambitious plan to create the first Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District in the UK.

It will be Europe’s largest research-led Advanced Manufacturing cluster, centred around the Sheffield-Rotherham corridor, which is already home to the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and the wider Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) at Waverley.

For the past 50 years, the landscape of innovation has been dominated by places like Silicon Valley - spatially isolated corporate campuses, accessible only by car, with little emphasis on quality of life or on integrating work, housing and recreation.

By contrast, Innovation Districts combine research institutions, innovative firms and business incubators with the benefits of urban living. Unlike traditional science parks, these districts cluster cutting-edge research in geographic areas that are liveable, walkable, bike-able, and transit connected.

The new Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District will be important not just for Sheffield City Region and the wider Northern powerhouse, but for the UK as a whole, as the region’s unique capability in manufacturing technology and engineering is vital to the country’s economy through supply to industries such as aerospace, civil nuclear, oil and gas, healthcare technologies and transportation.

The announcement comes during a three-day visit to Sheffield and Rotherham from Bruce Katz, Vice President of the Washington DC-based Brookings Institution and author of “The Rise of Innovation Districts.”

During his visit to the AMRC yesterday (Thursday, 15 January) Mr Katz said: “This is Sheffield’s moment. You recognise the critical importance of the advanced industries and the opportunity for devolution.

"Your capability in advanced manufacturing and materials is distinctive globally, and your culture of collaboration across business, university and local government aligns well with the new network model of innovation growth."

"This is the future," added Rotherham Council’s Cabinet Member for Business Growth and Regeneration, Councillor Dominic Beck.

"The Innovation District is a direct progression of our work on inward investment, our Advanced Manufacturing Park and support for business - crucial drivers in expanding and strengthening our Rotherham and City Region economy and creating long-term quality jobs.

"The development will create an integrated metropolitan hub of world-leading hi-tech, innovative companies and communities where people can live. It also shows the scale of our ambition for the whole of Rotherham.

"We've always said that while the AMP may be in Rotherham, it is a regional and UK resource to take on the world. The Innovation District will also be a global leader.

"Having Bruce Katz here, the internationally respected advocate of this way to the future, shows that the City Region is heading in the right direction.

"As the rest of the world moves forward, we’ll be in the forefront, where we have already staked our place."

During his visit to Sheffield City Region, Mr Katz visited the AMRC and companies including Forgemasters, the Tata Proving Factory at Newburgh Precision Engineering and Alcoa, which completed the acquisition of Firth Rixson, a global leader in aerospace jet engine components, in November 2014.

The next step in the creation of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District will be to progress the masterplanning process and undertake infrastructure and economic assessments, as well as transport modelling studies.

Read more on Sheffield City Council's website