'National screen institute' could be part of Sheffield's bid to land Channel 4

Richard Caborn.
Richard Caborn.
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Bringing Channel 4 to Sheffield could see the broadcaster establish a national institute in the city that would harness emerging digital technology.

That was the key message from former government minister Richard Caborn at a debate on plans to move the channel out of London to another base elsewhere in the UK.

An artists' impression of the proposed Channel 4 headquarters in Sheffield.

An artists' impression of the proposed Channel 4 headquarters in Sheffield.

The 'Relocation, Relocation, Relocation: Does Moving Channel 4 Matter?' event at Liverpool John Moores University on Monday heard impassioned views from representatives of a number of cities who have expressed an interest in hosting the broadcaster.

Mr Caborn, chair of Sheffield's bid, said he envisioned the creation of a national screen industries institute alongside Channel 4's new Sheffield headquarters that would 'put the city at the heart of new and emerging digital technologies.'

He said the institute would be based on the model of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and Olympic Legacy Park by bringing the private and public sectors together to develop world-leading digital technologies.

Mr Caborn highlighted how Sheffield has recently managed to attract investment from major companies such as McLaren and Boeing, and urged Channel 4 to join them.

He said: “We want to work with Channel 4 to create a new national screen industries institute for digital talent and technology and the creative industries. We could create a 'Screen Technology Factory 2050' for Channel 4 in Sheffield.”

Citing new technologies such as virtual reality and 3D printing being led and developed in Sheffield, the former government minister added: “We believe Sheffield and Channel 4 can stimulate whole new industries together as part of a package of measures that go way beyond where its headquarters is based.

“Through Doc/Fest, the ever expanding creative industries and our two local universities, we believe the convergence of those technologies in manufacturing and health and well-being with the digital sector perfectly fit with the demands of the Industrial Strategy."

The government launched a consultation earlier this year about the possibility of moving all or part of the channel out of its £100 million London headquarters to another base elsewhere in the UK to help drive creative jobs throughout the regions.

This led to a dozen local authorities expressing an interest in hosting the broadcaster, including the Steel City, Bradford and the West Midlands.

The department of digital, culture, media and sport is due to give initial feedback on bids submitted in July later this year. There is no timetable yet on when a final decision could be made.

Sheffield's bid leaders claim the move could be worth a whopping £1.4 billion to the city’s economy over the next 15 years and create 4050 jobs.

They have earmarked vacant land near the railway station in Sheaf Square and office space at the nearby Digital Campus as a potential site to build the new headquarters.