Innovation centre celebrates a decade of enterprise

One of the UK’s first  innovation hubs, the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre (3M BIC) in Huddersfield, has reached its 10-year milestone as it reflects on a decade of supporting over 500 businesses worldwide and narrowing the gap between the academic and commercial worlds.  

The £12m 3M BIC, carved out from a former textile mill, was designed to bridge the gap between industry and academia – connecting the business world with the academic world. Its vision was to give companies, particularly SMEs, access to research expertise and advanced technology and allow universities to draw on commercial capabilities.

The centre, offici8ally opened in May 2013, is a subsidiary of the University of Huddersfield, part-funded by ERDF, as well as Kirklees Council. For the last decade it has been a leading hub for innovation and enterprise, helping businesses to innovate, connect, and grow through access to technology, expertise, grow-on space, and research and collaboration opportunities with the University. 

More than 50 businesses have been based in the 3M BIC since 2013, with an average residence of 6.5 years. More than £4m from the Local Growth Fund has been invested in technology as part of the Huddersfield Innovation and Incubation (HIIP), including 3D printers, Xray machines and microscopy, providing businesses with access to capabilities that otherwise would be out of reach due to limited budgets and skills in-house.

The 10-year anniversary was celebrated on Tuesday 23 May, with the 3M BIC’s namesake in attendance, Sir George Buckley, former chairman and chief executive of 3M, and alumnus of the University of Huddersfield. 

Sir George, currenrtly chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, said, “Innovation Centres like the 3M BIC are crucial to evolving and disrupting markets. Giving companies, particularly SMEs, access to academic expertise and technology that are otherwise out of reach due to budgets and limited skills, are invaluable to business growth, longevity and driving innovation. I’m extremely proud to have my name associated with the Centre and look forward to what the next 10 years hold.”

Sue Cooke, 3M BIC’s chief executive, said: “The 3M BIC has always been ahead of its time, inspiring many hubs that have followed in recent years. As enablers of innovation and enterprise, we help companies innovate and develop ideas through access to our technology and links to the University of Huddersfield. Organisations can also build networks with our businesses and associated partners and put down roots in one of our office or lab spaces. We have built a great community over the last 10 years and are looking forward to the next 10.”

Professor Bob Cryan, CBE, vice-chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, said, “The University of Huddersfield has a longstanding belief in the power of business and university collaboration. Over 12 years ago, we had a vision to create a hub that would help bridge the gap between the commercial and academic worlds, actively promote innovation and enterprise, and support regional economic growth. “It has been rewarding seeing that vision come to fruition over the last decade through the 3M BIC.”