Two hundred gather to ‘discover, dream and design’ a new future for Sheffield

Paul Houghton, Emma Killilea, Sacha Romanovitch, John Mothersole and  Norman Pickavance
Paul Houghton, Emma Killilea, Sacha Romanovitch, John Mothersole and Norman Pickavance

Two hundred business, arts, charity, public sector and university leaders joined forces for a day to think of ways to make Sheffield the innovation and creativity capital of Europe.

Professional services firm Grant Thornton organised the event to ‘discover, dream and design’ how to shape the city over the next 10 years.

Lee Strafford on stage at Grant Thornton's Live Lab event

Lee Strafford on stage at Grant Thornton's Live Lab event

It was the first of a series of Live Lab events aiming to unlock the potential of cities across the UK and help Sheffield play a bigger role in the Northern Powerhouse.

High profile figures spent more than six hours at the Millennium Gallery including city council chief executive John Mothersole, Plusnet founder Lee Strafford, Meadowhall director Darren Pearce, former Master Cutler Neil MacDonald, Chamber executive director Richard Wright and Sheffield MP Clive Betts.

There was also a wealth of entrepreneurs including Ruth Amos of StairSteady, Emma Killilea of gluten-free food firm Delicious Alchemy and Lewis Bowen founder of clean fuel company Air.

Sacha Romanovitch, chief executive of Grant Thornton UK, said they launched in Sheffield because they felt it could make the most difference.

She added: “We know the biggest change comes from focusing on the right questions, sharing what is working already and building on that to move forward.

“It’s an ambitious approach – and we believe that by connecting and convening people in this way we’ll create lasting value for businesses, people and the communities in which they live and serve.”

Head of the Sheffield office and event host Paul Houghton said the aim was to come up with ideas to shape the city region.

He added: “Everyone was talking about creativity and innovation but we felt there could be something so much better if we got together and did something about it.”

Sheffield City Council chief executive John Mothersole said: “I knew I was coming to something exciting and it’s turned into something quite big.

“Sheffield is about its people, its modesty and self-deprecation and its ability to cope with most things. We’ve got to turn that into a commodity.

“These days the message is not what the council’s for. The best thing we can do is create the conditions for growth,”

Grant Thornton is holding 10 ‘inquiries’ in cities around the UK including Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Manchester, Edinburgh and Liverpool.

The Star is producing a an eight-page special supplement on the Live Lab event in Business Weekly on Wednesday May 25.