8 August 2023

Catalysing economic growth and innovation in South Yorkshire

Analysis of South Yorkshire’s advanced manufacturing capabilities, conducted by HVM Catapult in early 2023, provided compelling evidence of the innovation strengths that differentiate South Yorkshire from other places.

In an era of rapid technological advancement, the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult has emerged as a powerful catalyst for regional development across the United Kingdom.

On 14th July 2023, the UK Government named South Yorkshire as UK’s first investment zone. It aims to stimulate economic growth by focusing on advanced manufacturing technologies in aerospace, automotive, digital manufacturing, and medical technologies.

The news served as a testament to the transformative power of HVM Catapult centres in driving regional development, with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and Nuclear AMRC, both part of the HVM Catapult network, having been instrumental in driving innovation and research in the region.

But HVM Catapult’s fingerprints on the UK’s first investment zone stretch beyond this. In fact, it was analysis of South Yorkshire’s advanced manufacturing capabilities, conducted by HVM Catapult in early 2023, that provided compelling evidence of the innovation strengths that differentiate South Yorkshire from other places.

Key insights into the scale of future economic opportunities presented by HVM Catapult in its study informed ambitious plans for innovation-led growth that ultimately secured the UK’s first investment zone, with a focus on advanced manufacturing, in South Yorkshire.

Unlocking economic growth potential

In 2022, the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District partnered with HVM Catapult to develop a deliverable innovation-led investment pathway to unlock economic growth potential in advanced manufacturing sectors.

The HVM Catapult-led Advanced Manufacturing Capabilities Review was charged with answering three questions:

  • Identifying South Yorkshire’s capabilities: What are the distinctive advanced manufacturing capabilities in South Yorkshire that call for investment and what sets the region apart nationally and internationally?
  • Future market opportunities: What is the outlook for advanced manufacturing sectors in terms of market opportunities, their size and nature, and the potential market share for South Yorkshire?
  • Supporting and growing SY’s capabilities: What are the major growth barriers and recommendations to unleash the region’s the full innovation potential?

Six priority themes were defined, based on extensive literature review and techno-economic analysis of the region, 1:1 interviews with key regional and national stakeholders, site visits, an online business survey, and the team’s in-depth tacit knowledge of the markets and innovation ecosystem.

Economic scenarios and impact pathways developed by HVM Catapult indicate that South Yorkshire’s economic output and employment growth had the potential to increase by approximately £1.6bn over the next ten years supporting over 10,000 additional jobs in the regional economy. Approximately half of these job openings would be available in the broader supply chain.

Driving strategic decision making

One of the key objectives of this study was to achieve a consensus among diverse regional stakeholders and build a uniting vision through a transparent and consultative approach. The results were shared with the project Commissioning Reference Group and South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority leadership team, with consensus regarding the regional strengths and future opportunities identified by the study.

The invaluable insights and strategic guidance provided by the HVM Catapult’s study served as crucial inputs in driving and shaping various aspects of the innovation district’s and partners’ strategies. By leveraging HVM Catapult’s world-class expertise and impartial comprehension of the regional strengths and emerging opportunities, we empower local authorities to successfully attract investment and accelerate technological innovations to deliver economic benefits.

As other regions look to emulate the success, the strategic partnership between HVM Catapult and SY-MCA stands as a shining example of the potential that advanced manufacturing holds for regional development in the UK and beyond.


HVM Centre
Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Nuclear AMRC
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