Harworth Backs Plan to Create UK’s First Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District

Harworth Estates has backed plans announced last week to create Europe’s largest research-led Advanced Manufacturing cluster centred around the Sheffield-Rotherham manufacturing corridor.

The district will build on the significant development close to Junction 33 and 34 of the M1 that includes the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), the wider Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) at Waverley, and the AMRC’s Factory 2050 project currently under construction at Sheffield Business Park.

The launch of the district was announced by both Sheffield and Rotherham Councils and the University of Sheffield at an event at the AMP on Friday 16th January.  Masterplanning work, involving both the Councils, the University, landowners, other advanced manufacturers and key Governmental institutions will begin in earnest.

Supporting the announcement the University of Sheffield’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Keith Burnett said: “The Sheffield city region has a tremendous opportunity in manufacturing innovation, not only in relation to our own local companies and employment but for the UK as a whole, including to support the UK as an exporter.

“This work also builds on the exceptional talent which we are fortunate enough to have within our university, at the AMRC and in the region’s world-leading companies. This asset of experience and vision means our leadership on Science and Innovation is also attracting the support of senior international figures from Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Microsoft and Battelle to deliver this potential.”

Bruce Kratz: The rise of innovation districts

The announcement came during a three-day visit from Bruce Katz, Vice President of the Washington DC-based Brookings Institution and author of “The Rise of Innovation Districts”.  He spent a large amount of his time in discussions with senior partners from the University and region, supporting the new forms of partnership needed to deliver an integrated vision for development, economic regeneration and its associated benefits.

Mr Katz also delivered a public lecture in partnership with the University of Sheffield at Sheffield’s recently-restored historic Cathedral, entitled “The Rise of Innovation Districts”, which attracted more than 400 guests.

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. For the past 50 years, the global landscape of innovation has been dominated by places like Silicon Valley – spatially isolated corporate campuses, accessible only by car, with little emphasis on the quality of life or on integrating work, housing and recreation. The Innovation district planned around the M1 corridor is proposed to become a high-quality, research- and production-centred focus of advanced manufacturing for the whole of the UK.

Iain Thomson, Partnerships Manager at Harworth Estates, said “This is an absolutely vital development for the region.  As the main landowner and developer behind the AMP and Waverley, we recognise the need to better connect our development with other manufacturing clusters including at Sheffield Business Park and to link the development more coherently with Sheffield City Centre and Rotherham Town Centre.

An innovation district will ultimately lead to better development and a more productive economy.  There’s a real momentum from last week to move quickly with this and we will play our part in bringing it forward.”