VIBRANT SHEFFIELD: Why we leapt at the opportunity

Two hundred people, one extraordinary day. Here's what participants thought about it

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 25th May 2016, 12:54 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th May 2016, 12:58 pm

Jeanne Hardacre

Impact4 Leadership training

“​It was an ambitious, high energy and imaginative day. The way it ran had clearly been very carefully thought through, and meant everyone could be themselves, open their minds to creative ideas and shake off the shackles of the way we usually get things done.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

“The group I worked in composed a rap about why Sheffield is such a special place.

“The ideas I found most inspiring were: upping the pace in creating Sheffield as The Outdoor City of the UK, building a sharing economy for Sheffield to include skills, resources, time and physical space and a non-corporate quarter in Sheffield city centre for small, independent and start-up companies.”

Kate Dore

Director of Yorkshire Artspace

“I was proud to be in the room with so many people who love Sheffield and want to see it thrive. I really enjoyed hearing from established businesses, movers, shakers and young enthusiastic entrepreneurs.

“The positivity on the day was overwhelming. Our table’s idea takes some beating and would be of benefit to all the other ideas; to appoint a marketing agency to promote Sheffield to share news within the city and with the rest of the world to build the brand of Sheffield as a caring, productive, imaginative, green and creative city.

“Sheffield already has so many amazing things going on, we just need to tell the story.

“If the finance could be found to support the idea the benefit would more than repay the investment through increased engagement within the city, increased visitor numbers and more inward investment.”

Adam Formela

Chief executive Robinson Packaging

“One of the most impressive aspects of the Live Lab experience was the universal passion and belief in the capabilities of the people of Sheffield and the region, expressed by bodies representing the arts, science, commerce and academia.

“The output of the collective minds involved was truly remarkable, especially when one considers the limited time we were together.

Even so, there was numerous initiatives that I believe are wholly achievable , but most importantly, entirely within our own collective gift.

“I particularly liked the idea of investing in world- class digital connectivity across the region.

“This digital infrastructure is the 21st century equivalent of the M1 except it would reduce the need to travel for business and would bring on stream the outstanding talent pools we already possess throughout the region.”

Simon Collingwood

Public relations consultant

“The Live Lab production values and scale were a leap away from anything I have seen dedicated to the growth aspiration of Sheffield. The diversity of folks they drew in to the plan the activity was encouraging. I was particularly pleased to hear such positivity about the Year of Making Sheffield 2016 which I am part of. Making, whether steel products, computer games, art or music is part of our city’s DNA, the golden thread between our past present and future. I will be stepping forward to support this endeavour. I would like to see our city appoint a marketing agency. How many times do we hear the common refrain ‘we have so many stories to tell’?”

Emma Killilea

Founder , Delicious Alchemy gluten free foods

“Sheffield has been home to Delicious Alchemy since I founded the business in 2006. Ten years on and we have just opened our first factory in Brightside, employ 40 people, and grew the business by 25 per cent last year. It’s a place full of hard-working people, and this combined with its relatively low commercial property costs and its location, make it a great place to do business. I would love to see more food and drink firms start up in the region so we can have a group of vibrant businesses working together and learning from one another. I would also like to see a group of Sheffield food brands come together and form an association of some kind to promote Sheffield’s fantastic food heritage.”

Lee Strafford

Entrepreneur “I’m proud of the legacy that the people I have worked with have built in Sheffield city region, starting with my own baby, PlusNet, great companies have been developed including Ebuyer, LocalPhone, 3Squared, Tribepad, Wandisco and lately SkyBet. I’m inspired by the folks doing globally impactful things in our city, at Arm Holdings, Ansysis, Ask4, Sumo Digital and TheFloow.”

Andrew Marsh

Corporate Director, Barclays Bank

“The event was great, I liked the workshop format, Paul Houghton really engaged the audience and active participation was enthusiastic. It was interesting to hear what the audience thought the region stood for, what we excel at and likewise what is holding us back.

“I particularly liked the mix of people in the room from academia, to local government and business. The point that resonated with me was that we need to work more collegiately and provide additional support to high growth businesses of the future via incubator, accelerator and mentoring functions. Do I think it will make a difference – in isolation, one event will not. But I hope it will start a cross discipline.”

Jill White

Andy Hanselmann business advice

“It’s a changing world. When an accountant gets 200 people in a room sticking, licking and rapping you have to ask why? And the answer is: because they care. They care about their city, its people, its jobs, its skills, education and health. And most of all its future!

“An absolute breath of fresh air. And it all made complete sense when the new chief exec of Grant Thornton took the stage at the end of the day. A visionary leader, a new culture, an inspiring inclusive mission and a passionate purpose. I loved her! It truly is the future.”

Tom Cudmore


“I’m joining Grant Thornton as a school leaver in the autumn so as a millennial, naturally, I follow their actions on many social media platforms.

“It was a good chance to look at how each of us want Sheffield to be in 10 years. The spread of ages resulted in ideas ranging from a bike letting service to a cross-generational urban living space.

“I think a great idea is the better education of prospective school leavers in the alternative routes into employment.

“Firms need to take the initiative by going into schools and describing the skills they look for in employees and being welcome to do so.

“I’m realising more and more that going straight into university wasn’t right for me and I know that will be the same for many others.

“I hope I can play a part in this idea’s progression in the coming years.”

Prof Vanessa Toulmin

Director of city and cultural engagement, University of Sheffield: “I thought I was well connected but realised quickly the range of skills and talent in the city was even more impressive than I had anticipated. I am especially pleased to see the growing interest and support for independent retailers and businesses to shop local and creating an independent retail quarter are strong positive messages about how we can bring together our unique characteristics as a city and harness the hotspots we already have. Ideally, a fully pedestrian city centre is an aspiration – we need an innovative challenging transport concept that embraces vehicle access as well.”

Ruth Amos

Stairsteady entrepreneur

“There’s a really strong entrepreneurial and creative attitude in Sheffield. There is a team feel. It’s not about rivalry, it’s about bringing everybody up together. Sheffield needs to constantly be keeping ahead of it all as well as trying new things.

“It’s down to everyone, regardless of their size, sector or exact location.”