Our most successful cities today are those that have adapted to the transformation of the national and the global economy over the last century. Their traditional industries have declined due to processes such as containerisation and globalisation, and they have reinvented their economies around knowledge rather than physical advantages such as access to coal, iron ore, or waterways.1 These cities have attracted investment from high-skilled exporting businesses that create new innovations, boost local wages, and drive the local economy.

This means that to support the ability of places to adapt, the long-term strategic objective of economic development policy should be to improve the stock, flow, and use of knowledge in local economies, by improving the benefits cities offer to higher-skilled exporting activity in both services and manufacturing.

Due to its success in attracting higher-skilled exporting activity, the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) located in Rotherham, and the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) located on the park, have received significant interest from policymakers.2

This report looks at how the interventions made by the University of Sheffield’s AMRC have ensured that the AMP is an attractive place to invest, including through national and international partnerships with global industries and their supply chains. It also draws out lessons and experiences from the AMP for Local Enterprise Partnerships and local and national policymakers, as they consider how to use their Local Industrial Strategies to make themselves more attractive places for investment from high-skilled, exporting companies.

Section Two sets out the context of Sheffield City Region’s economy in which the intervention is taking place. Section Three identifies the quantitative impact of the AMP and AMRC on Sheffield City Region’s economy and compares it to similar parks. Section Four explores the nature of the AMP and the interventions made, and their implications for local and national industrial strategies. Section Five summarises the conclusions and provides recommendations
for policymakers.

The research uses quantitative evidence to look at economic activity at both the city-regional and the very local level of the AMP and similar parks, and qualitative evidence from interviews with firms involved with the AMRC.


  • 1 Swinney P and Thomas E, “A Century of Cities – Urban Economic Change since 1911,” 2015
  • 2 HM Government, “Industrial Strategy: Building a Britain Fit for the Future,” 2017