New partnership between Leeds’s ‘big four’ could be key to future success

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A brand new partnership between Leeds’s council, universities and hospital could be the catalyst for long-term economic development for the city, it is hoped.

Council decision-makers are next week expected to give their formal backing to the creation and development of an ‘innovation district’ in Leeds featuring the city centre’s big four insitutions.

Should the idea get the go ahead,it would lead to the special designation of an area of the city for bringing together creative and innovative talent.

The ultimate aim is 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 the council’s executive board at its meeting on Wednesday, work will start to further develop the concept and create a masterplan and feasibility work.

The YEP recently launched a new Digital City platform in partnership with Sky Betting & Gaming.

The platform is designed to highlight the giant strides being made by a sector that boasts around 3,000 organisations in Leeds.

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