VIBRANT SHEFFIELD: Hundreds of people spend day brainstorming the city’s future

Sacha Romanovitch, Grant Thornton CEO
Sacha Romanovitch, Grant Thornton CEO
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Two hundred business, arts, charity, public sector and university leaders joined forces for a day to come up with ways to make Sheffield the innovation and creativity capital of Europe.

Professional services firm Grant Thornton organised the event to ‘discover, dream and design’ how to shape the city over the next 10 years.

It was the first of a series of Live Lab events aiming to unlock the potential of cities across the UK and help Sheffield play a bigger role in the Northern Powerhouse.

High-profile figures spent more than six hours at the Millennium Gallery including city council chief executive John Mothersole, Plusnet founder Lee Strafford, Meadowhall director Darren Pearce, former Master Cutler Neil MacDonald, Chamber executive director Richard Wright and Sheffield MP Clive Betts.

There was also a wealth of entrepreneurs including Ruth Amos of StairSteady, Emma Killilea of gluten-free food firm Delicious Alchemy and Lewis Bowen, founder of clean fuel company Air.

Sacha Romanovitch, chief executive of Grant Thornton UK, said they launched in Sheffield because they felt it could make the most difference.

She added: “It’s an ambitious approach – and we believe that by connecting and convening people in this way we’ll create lasting value for businesses, people and the communities in which they live and serve.”

“Sheffield people have got a sense of who they are, its personality. It’s about a sense of inclusivity and wanting everyone to be part of it. There’s a real sense of the power of individuals supported by the community to make things happen, which in many ways has been the heritage of this city.

“When you look at the industrial revolution, many people outside Sheffield see the story of heavy industry.

“But it is innovating new ways to solve old problems using inclusiveness, passion and commitment.”

Ms Romanovitch, who became chief executive in July last year, added: “For us, we wanted to make a difference as a business at the heart of the economy and use our convening power to help people.”

Grant Thornton is holding 10 ‘inquiries’ in cities around the UK including Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge and Manchester.