Collaboration aims to unlock innovation cluster’s economic potential

A partnership aiming to help unlock the economic potential of the area surrounding Doncaster Sheffield Airport has been launched this week.

The collaboration, between Doncaster Sheffield Airport, Peel L&P and the University of Sheffield, will explore how the parties can work together to accelerate the development of a high-value innovation cluster at GatewayEast.

Peel L&P’s 11m sq ft GatewayEast development has been highlighted as an emerging innovation district by the Sheffield City Region Strategic Economic Plan.

Anchored by Doncaster Sheffield Airport, the district offers a wide range of development opportunities and has the potential to be harnessed to create up to 35,000 jobs and 3,000 new homes worth £6.5bn to the local economy by 2037 – according to Peel L&P.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been agreed which enables the partners to combine their expertise and consider projects that could accelerate development of the area.

One option could be to develop a business case for a research and development (R&D) facility in the district.

Linked to research from across the university together with the expertise of the partners, an R&D facility could become a world class asset where research, innovation, sustainability, education and training put technology into practice for the benefit of industry, the Sheffield City Region and the North.

It could also provide the foundation to introduce a skills academy that focuses on working with industry to deliver a deep pool of talent across the region.

Professor Dave Petley, vice-president for innovation at University of Sheffield, said: “The partnership gives us the opportunity to see how we can work together on projects that will help unlock the economic potential of GatewayEast whilst also driving skills, education and innovation for the benefit of the region.”

Stephen Wild, Peel L&P’s executive director for strategic investment & growth said: “We’re seeing an unprecedented change towards living more sustainably and this collaboration will help to drive forward innovation, sustainability and technology focused on mobility and transportation.

“This, together with the significant opportunities for advanced manufacturing and logistics at GatewayEast, make this Sheffield City Region’s largest opportunity for sustainable economic growth.”

The partnership will also maximise further opportunities already provided through the Catapult status of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC).

The Catapult Network is part of the UKs innovation system, backed by the Government to support universities, businesses and UK technologies that can bring substantial economic benefits.

Robert Hough, chairman of Peel Airports, said: “The partnership highlights the intention of positive collaboration, bringing together the proven development skills of Peel L&P, with the space, ambition and aspirations of Doncaster Sheffield Airport and the academic and practical expertise of the university, to create a development plan for a high-value and excellence-led innovation cluster.

“The delivery of a Research and Development facility on the site would be an opportunity for academic, industry and public sector bodies to pool their expertise to tackle economic, social and environmental issues.”

Chris Harcombe, managing director at Doncaster Sheffield Airport, said: “We know airports act as important catalysts to regional economic growth.

“The partnership between DSA, Peel L&P and the University of Sheffield to create an excellence-led innovation cluster, will be a powerful tool for high-value inward investment for the Sheffield City Region.”

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