VIBRANT SHEFFIELD: Bright ideas to help shape the economy

Sheffield is a city brimming with commercial and community potential. Our businesses, educational institutions and social enterprises have helped build an economy to be proud of.

Wednesday, 25th May 2016, 12:36 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th May 2016, 12:38 pm

But we think that there’s so much more that we can achieve. That’s why Grant Thornton recently brought together more than 200 people from different parts of the local community and society in the city’s Millennium Gallery for our first Live Lab. Advanced manufacturing firms, creative digital technology companies, and the arts and culture sector came together for an inspirational day of innovation, inquiry and transformation. They met with the aim of answering one question: How can Sheffield become the innovation and creativity capital of Europe?

The event was held as part of Grant Thornton’s ambition to help shape a vibrant economy – one which realises the shared potential of businesses, cities, people and communities across the UK. In Sheffield City Region, this will centre on the creativity, innovation and passion we saw demonstrated by so many attendees at our Live Lab. Together, we discovered our strengths and the beating creative heart of the region, dreamt about the region’s exciting future and designed ways to get us there.

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With #vibrantSheffield trending nationally on Twitter, the day resulted in more than 600 ideas for how we can make the Sheffield City Region a leader in innovation and creativity.

Attendees were split into 21 groups, who, at the end of the day, put forward the ideas they believed would move Sheffield towards a vibrant future. Many of the ideas are workable, achievable and will put Sheffield firmly on the map.

It could be easy to stop here but that won’t achieve anything. We want everyone in the city region to join us in shaping Sheffield’s vibrant economy by identifying which ideas of the hundreds that were generated should be taken forward and put into action. Here is a list of 21 that were presented at the Live Lab. These are just a small selection, and some are already taking shape. There are hundreds more, and we’re inviting everyone to contribute and feedback. We believe that, if we can get everyone working together on this exciting and momentous project, we can turn aspiration into reality, shaping a creative and innovative whole which is greater than the sum of the parts.

Please contribute on Twitter under the hashtag #vibrantSheffield and visit to see all of the ideas from the day and put yourself forward to get involved.

It is a small selection among more than 600, but it demonstrates the variety and ambition of ideas from the Live Lab.

And they could all shape a vibrant economy.

1: Community Owned City – deregulate power and put it in the hands of communities, deregulate planning, shift public assets into community ownership, consider a Sheffield bond issue to invest in communities.

2: Hydrogen Vehicles Made In Sheffield – buses, HGVs and taxis will be hydrogen-powered and made in Sheffield to clean up local air quality and support the city’s green credentials.

3: City Centre Tech Hub – expand the tech hub capabilities of the city centre. Open branches across Sheffield City Region to foster a tech culture.

4: Start-up Rates Relief – attract start-up businesses by offering special relief in rates and taxes in the first three years and foster the right culture for them in Sheffield.

5: Appoint A Marketing Agency For Sheffield – set up a consortium to create a brief and appoint a local firm. Share internally, and with the outside world,

to build the brand of Sheffield.

6: UCAS Points Style System For School Leavers – create structured programmes to keep talented young people in the city region and connect them to local opportunities to help raise their aspirations.

7: The Outdoor City:

Tourist and Events

Venue – organise crowdfunding projects to attract events and build the reputation of Sheffield as a destination for tourists and world class events.

8: Aye Up! Ski-lift/Cable Car – an iconic and disruptive public transport system to navigate the seven hills and link the valleys, funded through private sponsorship

9: International Conference Centre – attract significant inward

investment by creating a

multi-purpose destination venue for a range of events, conferences etc.

10: Sustainable Starter Homes Made In

Sheffield – use sustainable materials manufactured in Sheffield for new

homes to address housing shortage, create jobs and skills around sustainable homes

11: Link Up Schools,

Universities and Businesses – create aspirational pathways for young people through matching up education and business to create mutually beneficial partnerships.

12: A Grant-making Fund using 1 per cent of public contract money – to encourage businesses to put down local roots and invest in the city.

13: Shared In

Sheffield: Sharing Platform

for People Skills – help Sheffield become a

sharing economy with the creation of a digital platform to help the region connect resources and people.

14: Shop Sheffield – create a venue for local produce and enable Sheffield’s community to buy local products easily.

15: Sheffield City Region Funding Group – create a not-for-profit company to help support and grow the local economy.

16: ‘Non-Corporate’ Quarter Redevelopment – create a place where local businesses and non-governmental organisations can have the space to flourish for the benefit of the city region, its residents and beyond.

17: Community Participatory Budgeting – every community is involved in budgeting for Sheffield City Region. They can learn about models, grassroots and social justice.

18: Sheffield City Region Social Index – create a reporting framework similar to Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness to measure the social performance of the city region.

19: Pedestrianise The City Centre – create a café culture, encourage areas of public debate in open spaces and offer public lectures from the universities in the street.

20: Every Corner a Speaker’s Corner – 365 Festival City – establish a festival city in Sheffield with space for speakers on each street.

21: Mentoring Scheme for People Aged 16-20 – provide support and guidance to give young people a greater range of opportunities, and consider apprenticeships for all ages.

Grant Thornton brought together more than 200 people from different parts of the local community and society in the Millennium Gallery for its first Live Lab

Advanced manufacturing firms, creative digital technology companies and the arts and culture sector came together for an inspirational day of innovation, inquiry and transformation.

It used an established method of working called Appreciative Inquiry but ultimately it was all about ideas – and what ideas.

The Live Lab event generated more than 600 ways to shape the future and even if only a fraction come to fruition, Sheffield City Region will be a better place.

A Grant Thornton spokesman said: “It’s now over to you to indicate which ideas you’d like to be involved in, and which you like in principle.

“The full long list of ideas can be found by signing up to the Vibrant Sheffield Community. If you’d like to champion an idea not in the shortlist, please add a comment on the ideas page.”