< Back to All Case Studies

63. Co-designing a high impact Skills, Training and Business Support Plan for South Yorkshire’s Innovation District; paving the way for the UK’s first Investment Zone

Kada research were commissioned by Sheffield City Council to develop a Skills, Training and Business Support Plan to help drive the South Yorkshire Innovation District (SYID) ambition for innovation-led inclusive growth to transform the South Yorkshire economy. The SYID is part of a Global Network of Innovation Districts boasting world class assets and businesses.

The Plan highlights existing strengths to build on in South Yorkshire alongside new priorities for boosting the skills pipeline for the innovation district and securing high quality business support and investment. These priorities are designed to underpin a competitive, productive innovation ecosystem for sustainable growth of the sub-region’s advanced manufacturing and advanced health and wellbeing sectors.

The plan includes a series of practical solution-focused interventions aimed at helping South Yorkshire to unlock its potential for job creation and prosperity by employing its existing innovation capabilities to address local and global challenges. The interventions are shaped around three core pillars of the Plan: fuelling future talent, turning great ideas into business growth, and realising innovation, all of which are essential to the future success of South Yorkshire’s innovation ecosystem.

Our research focussed on clusters within advanced manufacturing and health and well-being in South Yorkshire, including medtech and life sciences. The study involved consultations with over 70 stakeholders and drew on good practice locally, within the UK and internationally. Through workshops and group discussion interventions were co-designed to identify opportunities for scaling up existing activities and developing new initiatives to stimulate inclusive sustainable innovation for people, places and businesses across the sub-region. The study culminated in an implementation plan and three-year roadmap.

The research highlighted a need for bespoke support designed to meet the specific needs of the advanced manufacturing and health and wellbeing sectors. Aligned with South Yorkshire’s existing and emerging skills, business support and innovation strategies, including the Local Skills Improvement Plan and UK Shared Prosperity Fund Investment Plan, the co-designed activities sought to add value to more generic skills, innovation and business growth programmes.

The Plan was instrumental to a bid that led to South Yorkshire being named the first of 12 UK Investment Zones. The IZ is expected to generate 8,000 jobs across the sub-region and an estimated £1.2bn of funding, including £80m of Government investment.

If you are thinking about commissioning a study for an innovation district or research to support investment zone developments, you can contact our Director Cassie Houlden at Cassie@kadaresearch.co.uk

This was a fascinating and broad-reaching project involving a wide range of stakeholders across and beyond South Yorkshire. Through our desk research, including identifying global examples of good practice, and co-design work with key stakeholders we identified how important the advanced manufacturing and advanced health and wellbeing sectors are for South Yorkshire’s current and future economic growth, alongside the wealth of opportunities these strengths offer for local skills development and employment. We learnt how innovation in these areas will be critical in supporting the achievement of net zero across South Yorkshire’s key industries and how creating inclusive opportunities for skills development and business growth will be vital to sustaining and maximising creativity for addressing immediate challenges such as decarbonisation, Karl Dalgleish, Kada Managing Director.

The SY Innovation District programme has worked with partners from across South Yorkshire and beyond, drawn from local authorities, universities, the combined authority, businesses, consultants, research institutes, chambers of commerce, and further education colleges to co-design and develop practical solutions and pathways connecting local people and businesses to growing innovated-led opportunities. KADA worked collaboratively across this complex landscape to utilise the latest evidence and analysis, and propose a focussed practical plan of action – a suite of bespoke interventions targeted at realising greater regional economic benefit by leveraging our distinctive innovation strengths in growing markets. This valuable strand of work is informing current innovation delivery proposals, Richard Bland, Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Programme Manager, Economic Strategy Team, Sheffield City Council.