23 July 2015

An exciting new scheme based on an Australian model to help budding entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground is being launched in Sheffield city centre next week.

Sheffield City Council and the University of Sheffield have been working on small-scale meanwhile uses of buildings in recent years, but the aim now is to take this concept to the next level.

A launch event has been arranged for anyone interested in learning more about this scheme. It will be held in the Theatre Delicatessen (formerly Woolworths) on The Moor at 5.30pm on Thursday 30 July.

ReNew is based on the successful Renew Newcastle, Australia initiative led by Marcus Westbury, the celebrated writer, broadcaster, festival director and media maker. Marcus was invited to Sheffield by the University of Sheffield to share his knowledge and inspire others during a series of events last year.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, from the University of Sheffield who is Chair of Re:New and Director of City Cultural Engagement, said: “We were truly inspired by Marcus during his visit to the city last year and I am delighted that by working with our partners in the city, we have come together to launch ReNew.

“The project will not only transform and bring vibrancy to buildings in the city which otherwise would have stood empty or even derelict, it will give start-up businesses a chance to flourish and hopefully increase footfall to the city in turn boosting the local economy.”

The launch of the Re:New project will provide greater support for business start-ups, artists and creatives looking for empty buildings in the city centre, with funding support up to £10,000 available.

Councillor Leigh Bramall, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development said: “We have recognised the importance of supporting meanwhile uses for several years now, but we want to take this concept to the next level with a more organised scheme developed with city partners.

“Re:New is the result, giving new, independent businesses the opportunity to test their ideas, whilst at the same time enlivening the city’s streets by adding variety, colour and new life to our city centre.

“I would certainly urge anyone interested in starting up a small business to come along on 30 July to have a chat or check out the new web site to get more details about the support now available. We have checked the main obstacles for users and independent retailers and we will be aiming to minimise the issues restricting them.”

It is anticipated many more vacant or underused buildings in the city centre will become active, providing much needed footfall, spend and more varied activities to areas in transition, such as the Sheffield Retail Quarter site and Castlegate.

The aim is to allow new concepts to be tested on a temporary basis, which will hopefully lead to those businesses becoming established for permanent use elsewhere in the city centre.

Organisations in Sheffield have already begun to take on vacant units and transform them into vibrant businesses.

Martin Keyworth of ‘Truth or Dare’ took on a vacant unit at Charles Street previously known as Quicksilver Arcade. In just five weeks Martin transformed the empty unit into a high quality barbers and tattoo parlour with a selection of designer T-shirts.

Crucial knowledge and guidance will be provided by a mentoring group involving partners from across the city, including the Council; University of Sheffield; City Centre BID; Culture Consortium; local landowners, developers and agents; established workspace providers; and independent retailers.

The group will be supported by a dedicated project officer and a new website       (www.ReNewsheffield.co.uk) will act as a first point of contact and strategic voice for anyone interested in finding out more.

The Re:New project will be funded by the Council’s ‘Keep Sheffield Working Fund’, University of Sheffield and European Regional Development Fund through the North Sea Region, Interreg IVB, SEEDS (Stimulating Enterprising Environments for Development and Sustainability) project.

Ends

Notes for editors:

Sheffield already has a number of successful pop-up projects in the city centre – ranging from independent retail and food and drink outlets to performance space and artists’ studios.

These include the popular Sheffield Showcase, Bird’s Yard in Chapel Walk, Union Street Co-Working Space, Theatre Delicatessen on The Moor and the Exchange Artist Studios in Castlegate.

Sheffield is a leading city in this area and the Council has been asked to share its expertise and learning on this with Government, who want to use this experience to roll out a similar concept in other cities.