Engineering Research Centre Speech

Thank you to Mike Hounslow and the University of Sheffield team for your introduction and welcome today.

I am delighted to be here to be part of the opening of not one, not two, but three new research centres.

They will add new depth to this regions great innovation, research and production story.

I won’t pretend to understand exactly what these three new centres will do. I hope Mike that on the tour later you’ll give an idiots guide…!

But what I do know is that these centres, as part of our wider network of research assets, can help unlock the power of industry, academia and local, regional and national government to deliver a genuine place based local industrial strategy.

And “place” has to be at the centre of our joint endeavour.

Ours is a city region that is embedded in the fabric of the modern world.

In bridges. In railways. In skyscrapers. In nuclear power stations. In jet engines. In cars. In ships. In medical instruments.

It is a city region that is experiencing a renaissance in advanced manufacturing and engineering – for the first time in a generation we have seen a growth in high value manufacturing and engineering roles.

We are proud of that.

This renaissance is evident in the performance and capabilities of businesses such as Nikken, Metalysis, PES, Magnomatics, Metalase and Iceotope, to name but a few.

This renaissance is also evident in our ability to attract global manufacturers like Boeing and McLaren. I hope that there will be more to come.

So, these are exciting times.

And investment by the University of Sheffield, by the region and by national government is central to this story.

Because, as the 21st century takes shape around us, there are big challenges ahead:

  • ageing populations,
  • automation;
  • falling productivity;
  • challenges to the free trade orthodoxy,
  • and of course Brexit.

These are as pertinent to Sheffield and the wider region as they are the national economy.

And our research, business support and our skills focus must respond accordingly.

So – as an economy we have some of the best talent.

Some of the best facilities.

Some of the best businesses.

Our challenge is to grow all of these – positioning our region to be able to respond to whatever challenges we will face.

But – there is huge cause for optimism.

We are a region at the very heart of the United Kingdom, superbly positioning with connectivity through road, rail and air and close to the international sea ports of Hull and the Humber.

We have a set of potentially globally significant assets;

where we are today – the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District,

Doncaster Sheffield Airport,

we have a growing band of global manufacturers to complement our indigenous business base,

we have the National College for High Speed Rail,

the AMRC Training Centre,

The Olympic Legacy Park and Barnsley developing Digital Campus.

We have a growing digital tech sector and two higher education institutions deeply rooted in our economic and social fabric.

What we must do is draw these strengths together – and harness them to build a sum that is greater than its parts.

And this is why I have been focused on developing a vision for a Global Innovation Corridor.

This concept will build on the heritage of innovation, creativity and making that still runs through the city region and its businesses to this day.

The Global Innovation Corridor will create a connected set of research and business interactions based on the advanced manufacturing and engineering strengths we have here in the region.

It will be based on our regions capabilities – our specialisms in composites and new materials,

in 3D printing, in machining,

in forging and in casting.

The Global Innovation Corridor will connect the region more effectively to the UKs fastest growing airport.

It will attract new global investors and it will connect the research and business community to the opportunities of being part of global supply chains.

And it will position our businesses to be part of global supply chains in onshore and offshore wind, in hydrogen and nuclear technologies, in aerospace, automotive and rail engineering.

The opportunities are limitless.

And to deliver it we must continue to grow facilities such as the one we’re in today by coming together, as we have done today, as a partnership between local, regional and national partners.

If we get this right – we can be confident about our future. Because ours is a region with its best days in front of it – not behind it.

We’re putting in place the right assets, developing the right people and growing and attracting the right businesses.

And we’re doing it by focussing on what we’re good at – our capabilities.

By doing so we’ll build more resilient businesses – equipped to explore and exploit new and emerging markets – and respond to the challenges of the 21st century.

So, as Mayor I will be working relentlessly with partners in our universities, in our businesses and with national government to help us take the next step.

So, well done to all who have contributed to the delivery of these three new research centres, they are a very important part of our journey towards a more productive, more inclusive and more vibrant city region.

Thank you.

– Mayor Dan Jarvis