Chambers unveil plans to transform future of region

Chambers unveil plans to transform future of region

02 September 2014

Exciting plans to help identify and develop transformational and iconic projects across South Yorkshire and the North Midlands to generate significant new opportunities for business and people in the region have been announced.

Recognising that there are not enough significant, ambitious and commercially sustainable new projects in the Sheffield City Region to transform the economy, the Chambers of Commerce for Sheffield, Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham and Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, have joined forces to create the Big Investment Project (BIP).

BIP will act as a catalyst to generate new growth opportunities – projects typically above £10m and up to £75m – put forward from businesses and individuals for the region. Through an evaluation board featuring local and national business leaders, BIP will identify the best projects to go forward to a group of mainly London-based investment fund managers who are set to visit the region early next year.

The evaluation board includes Justin Urquhart Stewart (Seven Investment Management), Sir Keith Burnett (University of Sheffield Vice Chancellor), Dave Hanney (formerly of Planet X), John Hayward (Chief Executive Officer of Pressure Technologies plc), David Thurkettle (Director of PWC and vice president of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce), Jill Thomas (Managing Director of Future Life Wealth Management) and Richard Spacey (Vestra Ventures).

The project is endorsed by Lord Bilamoria of Cobra Beer, Lord Wolfson of NEXT and Keith Morgan from the Business Bank based in Sheffield.

Mr Thurkettle said: “Through the Chambers – the four biggest business representative organisations in the region – we really want to give the economy locally a step change by identifying and providing relevant support to some large, transformational projects.

“The ideas could come from any sector. It is about finding the best ones that could make a real difference.”

Jill Thomas, Junior Vice President of the Sheffield Chamber, said: “The Chambers have access to fund holders waiting to invest but who quite simply do not have the projects to invest in. We want to change that by providing specialist help to turn ideas into reality.

“There are a number of great businesses and entrepreneurs in the region who we think we can excite and engage with fund managers.”

Jon Thornhill, Director of Sheffield Chamber and Sheffield-based Ask4 added “This project is available for people/organisations outside Sheffield City Region providing the investment is made within the region.

“This is a great place to invest and GROW your business with an excellent location at the centre of the UK and real expertise in areas like advanced materials, creative and digital and healthcare.”

James Newman, Chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Recent economic reports have shown a massive gap in our GVA of £3.2bn annually when compared with other regions. We also need to create a larger private sector. Clearly this cannot be achieved by internal growth alone.

“There is a need to encourage a number of large transformational investments addressing gaps in our capability and connecting to our existing economy with the international economies of the future.”

The BIP evaluation board will consider and critique projects to ensure that only the best suggestions are put before the funders. Deadline for the submissions will be by the end of November with the board evaluating projects immediately after that.

Support will be then provided to work-up identified schemes with individuals and their teams to generate a Sheffield City Region ‘prospectus’ featuring each of the projects ahead of the Funders’ ‘Roadshow’ in the Spring of 2015.

Mr Thurkettle added: “We hope that there will be at least three or four successfully funded projects that will emerge. Given the nature of the schemes being sought, these are unlikely to be running before 2016 at the earliest.”

Further information on BIP is available at where an expression of interest document is available.

BIP will be launched on Tuesday, September 23 at a special event at Sheffield’s Millennium Galleries in the build-up to MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival held at the Sheffield City Hall, September 24-25.