1 March 2016

Creative and digital businesses in Sheffield are set to be given a multi-million pound boost to help in the development of this important business sector in the city.

Sheffield City Council has been offered the funding by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and then to act as the Accountable Body for £3.5 million of capital funding.

This funding is expected to help establish a new facility providing work space, business incubation and other services for entrepreneurs and small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) who rely on digital technologies and their applications.

A local entrepreneur-based consortium developed a business case for the creation of a tech-based incubation facility within Sheffield City Centre in response to market failures in the supply of suitable facilities for digital SMEs in the North.

The Creative and Digital Industries are a key growth sector for Sheffield and the wider City Region, with the potential to generate a large number of high skilled, well paid jobs. The funding being made available to set up this Digital Business Incubator will be a boost to expanding the number of these businesses in future.

It is anticipated the proposal will establish the incubator in Castle House (the former Co-op building) at Castlegate and would be a major boost for the regeneration of the area following the demolition of the Castle Markets building.

The funding will contribute to the Council’s aim to change the nature of, and attract new uses into, the area – particularly creative and digital businesses and activities. It is also hoped that it will bring a large and distinctive listed building back into use.

Councillor Leigh Bramall, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development said: “The funding to support this private sector initiative will lead to significant job creation and economic growth in a key local and national growth sector. It will directly support our strategic objective to create a Strong and Competitive Economy by generating growth and help to create more and better jobs.

“We expect the capital funding to be used to bring a vacant building in the city centre back into full productive use. This investment also has the potential to stimulate further regenerative activity in surrounding areas.”

As a condition of making the £3.5 million capital funding available to the project, DCMS requested the Council should act as the Accountable Body for the grant as part of a Funding Agreement with the delivery organisation.

The consortium’s business case indicated that there is a demand and currently no existing or prospective incubator facilities providing business advice, investment, support and services to the businesses and people this project targets.

Electric Works provide SME workspaces and co-working in the city centre, but they are reaching capacity and are keen to refer clients to the new facility.

The request will be discussed by members of the Council’s Cabinet at their meeting next Wednesday (9 March) at 2pm in the Town Hall.


Notes for editors:
In the context of the Northern Powerhouse, the 2015 Spring Budget announced that Government would invest £11 million in tech incubators in the North of England, to nurture start-ups, foster collaboration, and provide mentoring, learning and business support. The funding is expected to deliver 200,000 square feet of new incubator space supporting digital start-ups, entrepreneurs and growing SMEs in the North, and creating or safeguarding an estimated 6,000 jobs in 10 years. To accelerate this growth, Government has agreed to support the development of innovative businesses across the North through investment in tech incubators in Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield.