How next generation Silicon Valley will boost South Yorkshire

Image courtesy of AMRC.

Image courtesy of AMRC

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.

For more on this story, see the Sheffield Star article.

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Devolution to help Sheffield finally punch its weight

The Government has announced a landmark devolution deal for Sheffield, which will see powers currently controlled by Government given to the city region.

(Photo courtesy of Sheffield City Council)

(Photo courtesy of Sheffield City Council)

But what does this mean for the Steel City and the people who live there?

What does it mean overall?

Sheffield Council says it is proud to have agreed this deal with the Government. It says it is on Sheffield’s terms and the content has been driven by the needs of the local economy. It says the deal is not about Sheffield giving powers away to higher authorities, but about the city getting more control over powers currently the responsibility of central Government.

Every year, about £4.5 billion of public money is spent in Sheffield, but the city only has a say over a tiny proportion of it.

St-Pauls-Square-Office-SpacMuch is controlled and directed by central Government. As a result of the devolution deal, Sheffield will be able to have a greater say over where money is spent and be better able to spend it on the things that matter to people in the city, such as housing and transport.

Coun Julie Dore, council leader, says: “We have been fighting for this for years on behalf of the people of Sheffield. This is the latest stage of our conversation with the Government and we will continue to push Whitehall to go further. “Cities such as Sheffield are complex places, and the economy and public services should be tailored to what residents and businesses need. This isn’t the case at the moment, as central Government makes most of the decisions about how the city’s money is spent.”

Skills and employment

Sheffield-Town-Hall-1Under the new powers, Sheffield Council will have significant control over the adult skills budget of about £200m, which pays for young people and adults to get the training they need to get into work.

This will enable Sheffield – working with the national Skills Funding Agency, and the Department for Work and Pensions – to direct funding to parts of the economy where there is a skills shortage.

This should mean more people get into work, because they have the skills businesses need. Support can also be tailored to what people in Sheffield need.

With local control of this budget, the city now has the power to get businesses the skills they need to grow, provide the right training opportunities for people and get people into quality jobs.

This is particularly key in areas such as science and engineering, in terms of Sheffield’s expertise in advanced manufacturing.

The aim is to ensure people have the skills to allow them to work at the new and expanding businesses along the Sheffield-Rotherham corridor, so those businesses choosing to locate in Sheffield do not have to look elsewhere for staff.

Business support

AMP Extension 2A support model for the city region’s economy will be pioneered, in order to get businesses the expert help they need in order to start, grow, thrive and export. Businesses will get bespoke advice and support from national advisors working alongside experts who understand the local economy. At the moment, support is largely provided nationally, and does not reflect the particular characteristics of the Sheffield economy, so it often does not do what local businesses need.

By 2024, the Growth Hub will have the target of creating 33,000 new jobs, 6,000 new businesses and at least £780m in private sector investment.

Meanwhile, the city region will establish an Export Centre of Expertise, in partnership with UK Trade and Investment, to bring together support from partners such as chambers of commerce and universities to help local businesses export more, a key area to help continue the city’s economic revival.

This centre will increase the level of international trade from the city region, to help achieve the national target of achieving exports worth £1 trillion by 2020.

What next?

The deal is being viewed by city leaders as the next step on the road to more power being held in Sheffield, rather than in Whitehall. There is growing evidence both from this country and internationally that the key to cities such as Sheffield punching their weight is to decentralise, and give more control over key decisions to local leaders who best understand what is needed for the local economy.

Ongoing discussions will be had with central Government involving the devolution of even more power and that this should involve a wider set of public services than has been under discussion as part of this deal.

See the Sheffield Star for more on this story.

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GREAT Chinese Names for GREAT Britain


Peak District National Park

Peak District Campaign to attract China Tourists

The new campaign is designed to encourage Chinese people to learn more about some of Britain’s best places to visit by giving them a new name.

It is one of 101 points of interest around Britain selected by national tourism agency VisitBritain to feature in a campaign inviting Chinese people to come up with the most fitting, amusing, meaningful, and memorable Chinese names for British places, events, and things.

Over a 10-week period, VisitBritain will use a variety of advertising, social and digital media to invite people in China to give ‘GREAT Chinese Names for GREAT Britain’. The campaign hopes to help attract even more visitors from the rapidly-growing Chinese tourism market, and encourage visitors to travel further afield around Britain.

For more on this story, see the Sheffield Star article.

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HMRC Evaluation Survey for Overseas and Regional Trade Statistics


gov-uk image

An HMRC Survey has been launched to gather views on the Enhanced Commentary for the Overseas Trade Statistics (OTS) and Regional Trade Statistics (RTS).

The survey covers:

  • the new style EU and non-EU OTS commentary releases (from January 2014), in particular whether these should be replaced with a combined OTS release incorporating both EU and non-EU trade; and
  • the style and content of the current RTS commentary release, in particular whether it should be changed to a style more similar to the OTS releases.

This evaluation provides an excellent opportunity for you to shape how trade statistics are presented and should realistically take around 10-15 minutes to complete. Your comments are a valuable source of information in helping HMRC make sure that they meet your current and future needs of trade statistics.

If you are prepared to share your views, please complete the Evaluation Survey.

The closing date for the survey is 31 January 2015.

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Extra £100m of funding ‘to be unlocked’ by British Business Bank

ANOTHER £50m of finance will be made available to businesses through the British Business Bank by the Government, which it expects will be doubled by match funding.

The money will be made available to regionally-focused commercial lenders, and through private-sector match-funding this is expected to unlock up to £100m of new lending for regional businesses through the likes of local banks and debt funds.

For more on this story, see article.

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‘Select Business Scheme UK’ visa process goes live





Simplifying visa applications for Chinese business people visiting the UK

The UK now receives more Chinese investment than any other EU country and is also the fourth most popular destination for Chinese investment worldwide. A far-reaching new visa scheme launched by UK Visas & Immigration aims to keep the UK at the top of these charts.

‘Select Business Scheme UK’ (SBS UK) will greatly simplify the process for inviting Chinese business partners to the UK. It is available to members of China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) and the British Chamber of Commerce in China (BCCC), and is also offered to members of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and companies referred by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI).

SBS UK dramatically simplifies the business visa application process by allowing representatives of Chinese businesses to provide just three documents when applying for a visa: an application form, an invitation letter and a letter of employment.

CBBC & BCCC members who participate in the scheme will be provided with a welcome pack, and will be assigned a single point of contact within UK Visas & Immigration who will offer support and information for urgent enquiries. In addition, members participating in the scheme will receive news updates and important information from UK Visas & Immigration on further improvements and changes to the visa service.

SBS UK will increase the ease at which Chinese people can come to the UK to do business and invest. – See more at the China-Britain Business Council website.

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Yorkshire & Humber China Business Awards 2014





The China-Britain Business Council Yorkshire and Humber are presenting the China Business Awards for 2014 at their Yorkshire & Humber Chinese New Year Dinner on 17th February 2015.

The event will take place at the Civic Hall in Leeds from 5.30pm to 10.30pm.  Attended by some 150 representatives from firms and organisations engaged with China, the occasion offers both a useful and highly enjoyable opportunity to celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Sheep.

There will be networking over pre-dinner drinks from 5.30 -6.30 pm and, following the awards presentation and dinner, a special guest will give a stimulating talk about the Chinese business environment.

Regional business are also invited to apply for the opportunity to receive a business award for their China related business activities during 2014… Please see our event page for more details.


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World leading research of Sheffield Hallam University highlighted

RESEARCH from Yorkshire universities has been praised in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) which assesses all the research published by UK institutions.

Following the announcement of the REF results today, the University of Leeds ranked in 10th place for research power, a measure of the number of people producing the highest quality research.

For more on this story, see article.

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Halton International’s review of International Trade for 2015

First for Business Dec 2014








The next edition of First for Business is hot off the press and as it is December, the focus is on what 2015 holds for businesses in the region.

The outlook is optimistic especially with a general election coming up and the regional UKTI delivery contract up for renewal. Exciting times ahead!

For more details, take a look at the First for Business e-zine and look out for my contributions.

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Evaluation report reveals £130million Le Tour boost

A row of yellow bikes line the Tour De France route in Leyburn






The start of this year’s Tour de France generated approximately £130million and was watched at the roadside by crowds of 4.8m, the official event impact review released today reveals.

The report entitled ‘Three Inspirational Days’ examines the economic and social impact of hosting the world’s largest annual sporting event, which began on Saturday 5 July in Leeds with the first of a two-day Grand Départ in Yorkshire followed by a third stage in Cambridgeshire, Essex and London.

The event earned worldwide admiration for its success, with Tour director Christian Prudhomme describing it as “the grandest Grand Départ” in the 111-year history of the race.

The report, led by Leeds City Council as the lead local authority supported by UK Sport, Welcome to Yorkshire, Transport for London and TdFHUB2014 Ltd, examines and evaluates the impact of the event as well as its legacy.

Using surveys and evaluations carried out before, during and after the race, the report reveals the Tour generated more than £128m of economic benefit for the host areas overall, with £102m for Yorkshire and £30m for Cambridgeshire, Essex and London with £19.5m for London (see notes for explanation of variances).

The overall economic benefit figure is expected to rise in the years to come to over £150m as a result of increased tourism and profile and as long-term trade deals secured at the Yorkshire Grand Départ International Business Festival held around the event are realised.

Over the course of the three days the race was watched at the roadside by a total crowd of 4.8million, which when taking into account spectators watching at more than one location and at multiple stages, meant it was seen by 3.5m individuals – 2.3m in Yorkshire and 1.3m on stage three (with approximately 600,000 in London).

Among the key findings of the report are:

  • The race was watched in person by approximately one in four people in the whole of Yorkshire and the Humber region
  • The event attracted 113,000 visitors from outside the UK, generating £33m into the UK economy
  • The Tour provided £24.3m benefit to the accommodation sector in the host areas
  • 18.6million people followed the race on television or on other devices in the UK
  • 92 per cent of spectators who watched the Yorkshire stages felt the Tour had been positive for the region, as well as 79% of those who attended stage 3
  • The Yorkshire Festival 2014, the first of its kind, saw more than 800,000 people attend more than 2,000 performances of arts and culture in the 100 days leading up to the Grand Départ
  • The official website received two million visits during the week of the Tour starting, with over eight million page views

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“Hosting the start of the Tour de France elevated Leeds and Yorkshire to a platform it has never been on before. The key to its success was the way the public supported the event in such numbers and with such passion they made it a truly remarkable weekend no-one who saw it will ever forget.”

Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Gary Verity said:

“We’re absolutely delighted the event brought so much money to the county to help businesses big and small, and there are benefits for the county which are impossible to measure – the profile of Yorkshire around the world has never been higher and this will have a lasting impact on visitor numbers and businesses for years and years to come.”

Minister for Sport and Tourism Helen Grant said:

“The Tour de France in the UK was an incredible success and once again showcased how well we put on major sporting events in this country. It was fantastic to see such huge crowds supporting the race in Yorkshire, Cambridge, Essex and London.  It showed the passion Britain has for cycling and will have inspired many to take up the sport as well as giving a significant economic boost to the host regions.”

Chief Executive of UK Sport Liz Nicholl said:

“The Tour de France this year showcased the UK‘s event hosting capabilities and passionate sports fans at their best. Through our National Lottery funded Gold Event Series, the nation will continue to benefit from the many impacts of hosting major sporting events on home soil.”

Chair of TdFHUB2014 Ltd Sir Rodney Walker said:

“The three opening stages of the 2014 Tour de France confirmed the UK’s reputation for staging world-class sporting events with a world-class level of organisational flair. It was a great privilege to have been part of it.”

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:

“The Tour in London was the most fantastic spectacle of sport, which delighted and entertained crowds across the capital. People packed the streets for a glimpse of the yellow jersey, as the peloton zoomed past at astonishing speed. The economic benefit of hosting such prestigious sporting events is clear, with images of our brilliant city beamed around the world – encouraging wider tourism and investment.”

Commissioner of Transport for London Sir Peter Hendy CBE said:

“The Tour de France was a fantastic opportunity for Londoners to experience the excitement of elite cyclists racing through iconic London streets. And they didn’t disappoint; 600,000 people lined London streets and filled our fan parks to enjoy the spectacle – on a work day!

“Hosting the Tour helped support The Mayor of London and TfL’s objective to encourage more people to cycle more safely, more often. This year’s Tour will cement the legacy of sport and cycling participation we continue to see from the London 2012 Games and the 2007 London Grand Départ.”

President of British Cycling Bob Howden said:

“The three UK stages set a new standard not just in terms of the amazing support but also because it inspired so many people, young and old, to get on their bikes.”

In terms of business approval, 58 per cent of businesses surveyed in Yorkshire and 51 per cent in London agreed that the Tour was the sort of event local authorities should be looking to host more of.

The legacy from the Tour is already being felt, as shown by:

  • 44 per cent of spectators living outside Yorkshire returned there in the three months after, with the figure being 40 per cent returning to Cambridgeshire, Essex and London
  • Since the Tour, an estimated 30 per cent of spectators have increased their own levels of cycling, which equates to up to one million people cycling more
  • 72 per cent of spectators aged 16-24 said they felt inspired to get more active by watching the race

The budget for the 2014 Tour de France in the UK was £27m, funded by local authorities (£11m), £10m of government funding (UK Sport through TdFHUB2014 Ltd) and Transport for London (£6m). Work is ongoing to finalise the local authorities’ costs element.

For more detail, see the full report.

Source: Leeds City Council

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