How next generation Silicon Valley will boost South Yorkshire

American business guru Bruce Katz visited the Advanced Manufacturing Park to give a speech on innovation districts to business people.
American business guru Bruce Katz visited the Advanced Manufacturing Park to give a speech on innovation districts to business people.

A next generation Silicon Valley to create jobs and halt an exodus of talent is to be pursued in South Yorkshire as a national first.

The advanced manufacturing innovation district will grow from the existing University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, Catcliffe, and the wider Advanced Manufacturing Park at Waverley.

It will be a hothouse for researchers, entrepreneurs and business people to share ideas, work, live and socialise - hopefully with new housing nearby, better transport links and public facilities.

In the long term it is hoped the district will attract more businesses, create new jobs, stop talented people leaving the region to seek work and put the area on the global map.

US economics expert Bruce Katz, who was visiting Sheffield to launch its international economics commission, said one new innovation district in Boston had created 4,000 jobs.

The former advisor to President Obama told The Star: “Why I came was to see the advanced manufacturing park and it is really quite remarkable.

“The collection of companies, researchers and entrepreneurs in a relatively small geography - this is a model we are keenly interested in in the United States.

“They also help move along unskilled workers into many of these advanced manufacturing jobs through apprenticeships and a focus on skilling that we’ve seen here.

“They are a way of supercharging growth and bringing people along for the ride.”

The district would be the first of its kind in the UK and Europe’s largest research-led advanced manufacturing cluster.

Unlike isolated corporate campuses such as Silicon Valley, innovation districts can be easily reached, and have public amenities such as squares and shops.

Sheffield and Rotherham councils will now look at how to bring the vision to life - with one of the biggest challenges being transport - alongside businesses and the university.

Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield’s cabinet member for business, said: “In the long term we need something like a tram service coming through here, in the short term that may be improving bus services.

“Having this will improve the profile of the city in a very positive way, encouraging people to live and work here.”

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