South Yorkshire announced as UK's first Investment Zone

Mon 17 Jul 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Sheffield, South Yorkshire

The government announced on Friday (14 July) that South Yorkshire is to be designated as the first of the UK’s 12 Investment Zones, in what regional and national authorities are hoping will be a major boost for the country’s local economies.

Leaders from the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority and chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, are looking to build on strengths already possessed by the South Yorkshire Riding to boost the overall UK economy.

It is hoped that the new zone will create 8,000 jobs and bring £1.2bn of private investment to the region by 2030, using £80m of initial government investment to make South Yorkshire a more attractive place for businesses.

IOE&IT ‘determined’ to assist

Paul Brooks, head of the UK nations and regions team at Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) said:

“The news from South Yorkshire is very welcome as the first of 12 Investment Zones across the UK goes live. Here at IOE&IT, we are ready to support the establishment of these zones right across the UK.

“We are determined to assist UK businesses take advantage of the international trade opportunities that these zones will create."

Sustainable aviation

The first investment under the scheme involves a Boeing-led research project into manufacturing lightweight structures for planes, which will also be part of a push to make aviation more sustainable.

The University of Sheffield, South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, Sheffield City Council and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult are also working on this project.

South Yorkshire’s mayor, Oliver Coppard, said: “Our Investment Zone will help put South Yorkshire back where we belong; at the forefront of this country’s manufacturing-led growth.”

Kiera O’Keeffe, IOE&IT lead for FDI strategy and Investment Zones, said:

“IOE&IT would like to congratulate South Yorkshire for this momentous announcement. It is a huge step forward for the region and an exciting start to the UK’s Investment Zones Programme.

“IOE&IT is delighted to be in touch with our friends at the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority. We are looking forward to holding effective and productive meetings to discuss how our teams can collaborate to make the South Yorkshire Investment Zone a success.”

Investment Zones

The idea of Investment Zones was first announced by then-chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng in his 2022 “mini budget”. Prime minister Rishi Sunak’s administration made changes to the policy, reducing the number of sites to 12 as part of the 2023 spring budget package.

Responding to the 2023 budget, IOE&IT director general, Marco Forgione, said the policy would “accelerate much needed research and development in the UK’s ‘most budding industries’ and this is essential to ensure the UK remains competitive in trade in services.”

High growth areas

The South Yorkshire zone is the first of 12 areas, all expected to be built around universities and high-growth industries.

The zone will expand the pre-existing Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID) to incorporate the centres of Rotherham and Sheffield, with further “opportunity sites” across Barnsley and Doncaster.

It will offer a combination of targeted support, including incentives for businesses to relocate to the area, improving skills support schemes and unlocking barriers to planning via dedicated officers.