17 October 2017

Bringing Channel 4 to Sheffield could see the broadcaster develop a National Screen Industries Institute that puts it at the heart of new and emerging digital technologies.

That was the impassioned view of the Rt Hon Richard Caborn, leading the city’s bid for the broadcaster to move some of its business out of London.

Speaking at a panel event in Liverpool, Mr Caborn said a new screen institute could build on the model of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and Olympic Legacy Park by bringing the private and public sectors together to develop world-leading digital technologies.

He told the panel at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), which included Channel 4’s Head of Features and Brookside creator Professor Phil Redmond, that Channel 4 could join companies such as McLaren and Boeing which have announced new bases in the city.

He said: “We want to work with Channel 4 to create a new National Screen Industries Institute for digital talent and technology and the creative industries. We could create a Screen Technology “Factory 2050” for Channel 4 in Sheffield.”

Citing new technologies such as virtual reality and 3D printing being led and developed in Sheffield, the former government minister added: “We believe Sheffield and Channel 4 can stimulate whole new industries together as part of a package of measures that go way beyond where its headquarters is based.

“Through Doc/Fest, the ever expanding creative industries and our two local universities, we believe the convergence of those technologies in manufacturing and health and well-being with the digital sector perfectly fit with the demands of the Industrial Strategy.

“It’s important that Channel 4, which has always been an innovator, can take this industry forward and this will be considerably enhanced with the support of a major research and development institute which is strongly influenced by the private but backed by the public sector and that’s what we will develop in Sheffield.”

LJMU Ambassador Fellow, Professor Phil Redmond CBE, delivered a keynote address entitled ‘Does Moving Channel 4 Matter?’, which was followed by a panel debate chaired by Andy Bounds, Northern Correspondent, Financial Times.

The panel was Cat Lewis, CEO of Nine Lives Media and Chair of Royal Television Society North; Richard Caborn, Chair of Sheffield’s Channel 4 bid and former Minister of Sport; Stephen Chapman, TV producer and journalist for Prolific North; and Gill Wilson, Head of Features at Channel 4.

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Cabinet Member for Business and Investment at Sheffield City Council, said: “We have put forward a compelling case for Channel 4 to build a home in Sheffield. This goes way beyond our long association through films and television.

“We want to develop a home which could see a national institute put research, emerging technologies and education at the heart of Channel 4’s innovative approach to broadcasting for the next 50 years and beyond.”