03The Sheffield and Rotherham context

Sheffield and Rotherham local authorities sit within the Sheffield City Region (SCR), which comprises nine local authorities. Of 76,000 jobs in the SCR,3 11.4 per cent are in manufacturing compared to the 5.4 per cent average in Great Britain.4 In the Sheffield-Rotherham area, manufacturing accounts for 10.2 per cent of private sector jobs and 8.3 per cent of all private sector businesses.

Figure 1 shows the share of manufacturing activity as a share of total private sector economic activity in Sheffield, Rotherham, the two cities together and the UK as a whole. Both in term of jobs and businesses, Sheffield and Rotherham have a higher share of manufacturing activity than the UK average.

Figure 1: Manufacturing activity as a share of total private sector economic activity

Source: NOMIS, Business Register and Employment Survey 2013 and UK Business Counts 2013

Manufacturing in the UK does not look the same as it did 30 years ago. In 2009, Rolls Royce and Arcelor Mittal reported 49 per cent and 29 per cent of revenue from services respectively.5 This is a growing phenomenon: while in 2007 only 24 per cent of UK manufacturers (with over 100 employees) derived value from the services associated with their products, in 2011 this had risen to 39 per cent of UK manufacturers.6

As Bruce Katz and Kelly Kline wrote in their recent blog, “advanced manufacturing has mastered the innovation side of the Innovation District”.7 Alongside more traditional steel forging and casting, innovation and modern technologies are integral to the bespoke and high tech products and services for the aerospace, nuclear, transportation, oil and gas and medical engineering sectors that are manufactured in the area. Advanced manufacturing companies in Sheffield-Rotherham are increasingly operating across more elements of the manufacturing value chain,8 including in research, design and development of products and services prior to production.

R&D and industry-led innovation in Sheffield-Rotherham has been driven by the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and led by the University of Sheffield, a UK leader in advanced manufacturing and research and located in the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP). The AMRC has over 80 partner companies including Boeing, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, TATA and Forgemasters, located both on the AMP site and in the wider Sheffield-Rotherham area. The AMP site is also home to the Nuclear AMRC, Welding Institute, Castings Technology International, AMRC Knowledge Transfer, Training and Design Prototyping and Testing Centres.

Bordering the site of the AMP (but separated by a motorway) is the Sheffield Business Park (SBP) which hosts a number of companies including business, financial and accounting services. The SBP will also be the site of the new Factory 2050 facility which will bring new advanced manufacturing activity to the SBP.9

Figure 2: Sheffield and Rotherham economic corridor

The AMP-SBP site itself is located between Sheffield and Rotherham and sits within a broader corridor of manufacturing and engineering firms. Figure 2 above shows how the geography of innovation and economic activity in advanced manufacturing in Sheffield-Rotherham differs from the urban, high-density and mixed-use business, professional and financial services (BPFS) or creative and digital industries-based Innovation Districts in other cities. But the growth of highly innovative firms and cluster of activities does closely resemble the ‘urbanized science park’ model, where science parks originally designed to ensure seclusion, isolation and to protect intellectual property (IP) are re-developed to meet the needs of modern innovative businesses.10 The next section will examine in more detail the principles that underpin the Innovation District concept and how they relate and are useful in boosting advanced manufacturing in Sheffield-Rotherham.

Figure 3: The Advanced Manufacturing Park, Sheffield-Rotherham


  • 3 Source: NOMIS, Annual Population Survey, 2013-2014 data
  • 4 Source: NOMIS, Business Register and Employment Survey, 2013 data
  • 5 Foresight (2013), The Future of Manufacturing: A new era of opportunity and challenge for the UK, Project Report, The Government Office for Science: London
  • 6 Innovation district.
  • 7 Katz B and Kelly K (March 25, 2015), An advanced manufacturing innovation district grows in Sheffield, England, Brookings blog (accessed 8 April 2015: http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2015/03/25-manufacturing-innovation-district-sheffield-england-katz-kline)
  • 8 BIS (2010), Manufacturing in the UK: An economic analysis of the sector, BIS Economics Paper No 10A, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: London
  • 9 Hereafter the report refers to ‘AMP-SBP’ to mean the combined area of the two sites as the focal point of innovation and R&D in the advanced manufacturing ecosystem
  • 10 Katz B and Wagner J (May 2014), The Rise of Innovation Districts, Metropolitan Policy Programme, Brookings Institution: Washington DC