Sheffield takes its place in world innovation spotlight

Lyndsay Laird, Senior Media Manager
07 July 2015
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A world-wide competition, which will see a number of new, innovative ideas developed in Sheffield, is set to change the ways in which the city tackles some of its every day challenges.

The Sheffield Smart Lab initiative - a partnership between Sheffield City Council, Amey and Ferrovial Services - will invite entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, both in Sheffield and globally, to submit original ideas to energise the city centre, and to support people to live independently.

Sheffield Smart Lab will make the city the key place for urban innovation with the city keen to be at the forefront of innovation and putting pioneering ideas into practice, tackling the challenges that the people of Sheffield come up against on a daily basis and making life easier for residents.

Councillor Leigh Bramall, Deputy Leader & Cabinet Member for Business, Skills & Development said: “In setting out to be the best we can be as individuals and communities, as a council and as a city, we need to be in touch with cutting edge of innovative approaches, alongside other major European cities. Sheffield Smart Lab will help us find the very best ways to achieve our economic potential, and be well-connected, with skilled individuals and growing businesses.

“We will be looking for the very latest thinking to ensure a thriving, exciting city centre, where winning proposals might include helping residents and visitors to be more aware of what the city offers through a busy agenda of world-class theatre, sport, music, festivals, museums, galleries and restaurants and bars, and the best new approaches to supporting independent lives.”

Keith Bennett, Amey’s Sector Business Director for Local Government, said: “Supporting start-up businesses and entrepreneurs through Sheffield Smart Lab is a great way to introduce innovation and revolutionise the way services are delivered. This ground-breaking initiative demonstrates our commitment as a business to enhance the social, economic and environmental well-being of the areas in which we work, as well as making a tangible difference to the people of Sheffield.”

A launch event was held on Tuesday (30th June) at the Electric Works in Sheffield, where key speakers introducing the initiative to entrepreneurs explained how it would help them to develop their idea and outlined the benefits it would bring to the city. For more information, visit

Interested entrepreneurs and start-ups will have until the end of September to submit their ideas. Entries will be made through the Sheffield Smart Lab website and around five to ten ideas will be shortlisted later in the year.

Winners will get the opportunity to participate in an incubation and accelerator programme to develop their solution and business case in a ‘smart lab’ facility, supported by both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University, before showcasing it early next year. Solutions may then be put to the test in a real life situation in a city pilot.

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