The chancellor met with South Yorkshire leaders to announce the zone. Credit: SYMCA

South Yorkshire first to land investment zone status

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the government will commit £80m as the area looks to build on its advanced manufacturing base.

With investment zone status, the government said it is expects the creation of 8,000 new jobs for South Yorkshire and £1.2bn of private investment levered in by 2030.

The first investment is to be an £80m-plus Boeing-led sustainable aviation research project, which will explore manufacturing lightweight structures for aeroplanes.

The R&D work will take place within Compass – Composites at Speed and Scale – a new research facility to be built as an extension to the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre’s Factory 2050.

The university said that Compass will provide the technological advances needed to make lightweight aerostructures – key components that make up the fuselage, wings and stabilisers of passenger planes.

It will house a raft of equipment secured through a £29.5m grant from the Aerospace Technology Institute to support new capabilities, technologies and processes that aim to reduce cost, waste, production time and associated carbon emissions.

Compass will be built with support from the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, Sheffield City Council and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

As examined in The Subplot, government guidelines were published this week outlining how to successfully bid for the £80m support package.

South Yorkshire’s Mayor Oliver Coppard said: “Our Investment Zone will help put South Yorkshire back where we belong; at the forefront of this country’s manufacturing-led growth.

“Technology created in South Yorkshire built the modern world. Because in South Yorkshire we have always known how to deliver practical solutions to big challenges. Yesterday it was stainless steel and our coal industry, today it is AI, Robotics and creating lighter, stronger materials for Jet Zero.

“That’s why this new Investment Zone status is so important. Because with the support of partners like Boeing, and working with the government, we’re showing we have the tools, the technology and the confidence to build on our strengths as not just the world’s first, but the world’s best Advanced Manufacturing District.”

The investment zone – the first of 12 possible new zones built around universities and high-growth industries – will build on the success of South Yorkshire’s advanced manufacturing innovation district, expanding it to incorporate Rotherham town centre and Sheffield city centre, with “opportunity sites” across Barnsley and Doncaster.

For Barnsley, these include Junctions 36 and 37 of the M1, Goldthorpe and the Seam digital campus in Barnsley town centre. Doncaster has four strategic employment sites included.

Investors, developers and start-ups will be offered a combination of targeted support and financial interventions to start, scale up and relocate their businesses including:

  • Help unlocking barriers to planning, with support from dedicated Investment Zone planning officers throughout the process
  • Help with relocating through funding for capital, infrastructure and feasibility work
  • Skills support schemes to upskill workforces and boost opportunities for graduates whilst tackling issues around economic inactivity
  • Supply chain funding to build the capability and competitiveness of suppliers to access regional, national and international growth markets.

Sir Stephen Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council, said: “Although the focus of the project covers Rotherham and Sheffield, the Investment Zone will bring strong benefits to the whole of South Yorkshire.

“The wider programme will provide us with new opportunities for growth and development in our borough. It will enable us to attract new businesses, provide scale up support to those already here, and create new jobs.”

The Compass/Boeing project is the largest ever R&D project for the University of Sheffield AMRC, extending a long-standing partnership with the aerospace giant.

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