Minister of State Simon Clarke MP visited the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre (3M BIC) in Huddersfield on 12 March, after signing the new devolution deal for West Yorkshire alongside the Chancellor of the Exchequer and local leaders.

The 3M BIC is a subsidiary of the University of Huddersfield, designed to foster academic and industry collaboration and enable businesses to innovate, exchange knowledge with the University, and facilitate regional regeneration.

As part of his visit, the Minister met with the University of Huddersfield’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bob Cryan CBE, and Sue Cooke, the CEO of the 3M BIC, and took a tour of the centre’s Innovation Avenue, which houses technology available to businesses for product design, prototyping, 3D printing, and product verification.

The Minister also met the Northern Hub of the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), based in the 3M BIC, tenants Ionix Advanced Technologies and Innovate Orthopaedics, as well as representatives from the University of Huddersfield’s supply chain programme.

The University and the 3M BIC have invested over £4m in technology, which includes the Huddersfield Innovation and Incubation Project (HIIP), a £2.9m grant awarded by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority on behalf of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal – a £1bn package of government investment to accelerate growth and create jobs across the Leeds City Region.

The HIIP allowed the University to purchase advanced technologies driven by feedback from local businesses and overlapped with its research expertise, to drive knowledge exchange with the region’s SMEs. Managed through the 3M BIC, the HIIP has supported around 150 SMEs and 480 potential entrepreneurs and four new jobs were created at the 3M BIC to support the scheme.

The Minister also visited the University of Huddersfield’s Enterprise Hub, based at the 3M BIC, which supports around 100 student and graduate entrepreneurs. He met Philip Clegg, head of enterprise & entrepreneurship and numerous students and graduates from the University that have aspirations to work for themselves or set up their own businesses.

Commenting on his visit to the 3M BIC, Simon Clarke MP, Minister of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, said: “What a fantastic facility this is. Both staff and students should be very proud of what it being enabled in this space. This is a template for what we ought to be looking to energise more widely throughout the North and across the country.

“The bigger picture of my visit, the creation of this Mayoralty for West Yorkshire, is about making sure we create more strategic opportunities like this which help to level up our entire economy and society.

“I’ve never seen such a closer partnership between education and enterprise, evidenced by the sheer cutting-edge nature of the equipment and the enthusiasm of the staff. It’s a visit that will definitely stay with me.”

Sue Cooke, CEO of the 3M BIC, said: “As one of the UK’s first business innovation centres, we’ve strived to break down barriers between academia and industry to allow the exchange of knowledge through institutions such as the University of Huddersfield, and giving businesses access to growth support, research facilities and advanced technologies.

“Being recognised for our commitment bridging that gap between education and enterprise by the Minister, whose key responsibilities include boosting local growth, in particular across the North of England, is encouraging. We will continue to drive forward regional regeneration through our core offerings at the 3M BIC to enable greater levels of business growth and innovation across the region and beyond.”

Roger Marsh OBE DL, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and the NP11 group of Northern local enterprise partnerships, said: “The success of projects like the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre show what the LEP and West Yorkshire Combined Authority have been able to achieve with the £1 billion Growth Deal, bringing further investment into the region, creating jobs, opportunities and helping businesses to grow.

“The historic devolution deal for West Yorkshire signed this week will unlock more funding and powers for the region, allowing us to do so much more to invest in public transport, support businesses, improve skills and living standards while tackling the climate emergency.”