Production Park, one of the UK’s largest facilities for the live events industry, has announced four senior hires to lead its £7m research and development (R&D) project on its Wakefield campus.

The project, XPLOR, will be used to deliver a support programme to facilitate growth for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) across the live events industry, and will be headed up by Jim Farmery, (pictured left, with cllr Darren Byford) ex Partnerships Lead at Creative England.

Jim has been announced as XPLOR’s Development Director and will oversee the day-to-day running of the facility. Upon completion in Spring 2022, the site will become one of the UK’s first specialist innovation centres in the live events industry, with sector comparisons being made with the world-leading film and television institution, Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.

Engaging with organisations and researching opportunities for the facility, Jim’s role will see him build awareness of the centre, not only within the industry and the region, but also across the UK.

A partnership between Production Park’s Backstage Academy and Wakefield Council, the development will be based on the park in South Kirkby and is set to create 150 jobs throughout its construction.

Jim will be supported by Matt Glynn, Concept and Product Designer, Peter Nye, Software Controls Engineer and Ben Schweitzer, Digital Content Designer.

Jim Farmery, XPLOR’s Development Director, said: “XPLOR will not only facilitate business growth for SMEs in the region, but will also represent a UK-first powerhouse for the events industry, worth £30bn to the nation’s economy. It’s something we’re all really excited about and proud to play a part in delivering as a team.

“It will drive employment within the live events sector, which will be vital for the industry in what has undoubtedly been a difficult year and will play a pivotal role in fostering disruptive growth for the industry’s SMEs. It will appeal most to those who want to take their business to the next level, helping them to navigate the challenges posted by the impact of Covid.

“We’ve already seen a great number of businesses in our region having to quickly adapt and innovate, through necessity, as a result of the current climate. Despite the uncertainties 2020 has thrown our way, I’m really confident audiences will be coming back with a vengeance to the live events sector in 2021.”

Based in South Kirkby, West Yorkshire, Production Park is a community of studios, businesses and educational facilities working together to create live events technology, produce live experiences and share live industry best practice.

Backstage Academy is also situated on the site; a higher education institution based near Wakefield, offering degrees and courses for the live events industry.

The Backstage Innovation Centre Project is a partnership between Backstage Academy and Wakefield Council that will see the creation of a specialist knowledge and innovation centre focusing on research and development for the live events industry and its supply chain. Throughout 2021 TopicUK will be following the construction of this project, through to opening.

SME owners interested in receiving business support should complete an online registration form at