New proposal for an innovation district for Leeds

Leeds, Leeds Star

Senior councillors will, next week, hear proposals to create an innovation district in Leeds which could provide a catalyst for productive, sustainable and inclusive economic development for the city.

At the meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board on Wednesday 27 July, members will be asked to support the formation of a partnership between the council, universities and hospital to develop the concept of an innovation district in Leeds.

Should it get the go ahead, the innovation district would be an area of the city which would bring together some of Leeds’ most creative and innovative institutions and seek to attract new research facilities, provide a range of work spaces, create new development opportunities and provide new high-density housing to attract and retain skilled workers.

It is proposed that the district would incorporate the main city centre campuses of the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University, the Leeds General Infirmary, and the Leeds City Council buildings in the Civic Quarter.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said:

“An innovation district is more than just a place – it is an alliance which would make use of our city’s existing assets. By bringing together some of our city’s most creative and innovative institutions and businesses we will encourage the sharing of ideas and knowledge whilst providing numerous development opportunities.

“It is envisaged that the district would enable business creation and growth, and promote inward investment by enabling and encouraging collaboration between businesses, entrepreneurs, universities, health professionals and government leaders. It could also create job and education opportunities and inspire young people and help them to fulfil their ambitions.”

Julian Hartley, Chief Executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

“Our hospitals have always been at the heart of the city so I am extremely pleased that the Leeds General Infirmary site is an integral part of the proposed Innovation District with the many opportunities that brings. We are excited about working with a range of partners to develop new solutions and attract investment, which will be good for our patients and staff and help grow the economy of our city.”

Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, said:

“These proposals will ensure an integrated approach with positive economic results and social benefits. By launching this positive vision of Leeds as an innovative and connected community, we will support the wider aim of being a compassionate, outward looking City with a strong economy.

“The University is at the heart of the innovation district, and this initiative will complement our own £520m programme of investment, including the £40m innovation and enterprise centre which will ensure that businesses have rapid access to our world-class research.”

Professor Peter Slee, Vice Chancellor of Leeds Beckett University added:

“Leeds Beckett is proud to be a partner in the Innovation District and to continue to play a positive role in our city’s economic prosperity.”

If given the nod by executive board, work will start to further develop the concept and create a masterplan to see if an innovation district is feasible and desirable for the future of Leeds.