Thousands of private sector jobs could be created after a plan to match ambitious local projects with London money was launched in Sheffield.
The region’s four Chambers of Commerce are behind the “revolutionary” Big Investment Project which is open to ideas for schemes worth up to £75m.
Financial experts say there are billions of pounds sat “earning nothing” which fund managers are desperate to invest.
Sheffield City Region is said to have a ‘gap’ of £3.2bn in annual income, 3,000 businesses and 50,000 private sector jobs, based on its population.
The BIP comes as more powers will be devolved to Scotland – and the English regions – which will require new styles of leadership to be effective.
Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber, said: “To our knowledge it’s a revolutionary idea. Whether it is practical we will find out, but we have to have a go.”
David Thirkettle, PwC director and Sheffield Chamber vice-president, told the audience they knew funders who wanted to come out of London and see what life was like in the regions. He said: “Our economy has probably relied too much on the public sector.
“It’s time for the private sector to step up. It’s up to us to come up with idea to make a transformational change.”
Jill Thomas, junior vice president of Sheffield Chamber and chief executive of Future Life Wealth Management, said infrastructure fund managers were sat on £6bn in cash that was earning nothing.
“They don’t really like to go out of the M25. But when they come they are impressed.
“There are a number of great businesses and entrepreneurs in the region who we think we can excite and engage with fund managers.”
The deadline for submissions is the end of November.
Proposals will be judged by a panel of local business leaders before the best are submitted to a group of mainly London-based investment fund managers who are set to visit the region early next year.