27 September 2012

Launch of Huddersfield University's 3M Buckley Innovation Centre

At last year's Kirklees Business Week, Bob Cryan, Vice-Chancellor of Huddersfield University, announced plans to set up an innovation centre. This year's Kirklees Business Week saw the centre's launch by the Calderdale and Kirklees Manufacturing Alliance and I was there to support it.

The centre is known as the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre.  According to its website it is a "3,600 square metre. purpose built specialist environment creating a business facing centre for collaboration and research" which is intended to "act as a catalyst to promote business to business and business to higher education collaborations."

The Centre is built around "Innovation Avenue" which appears to be the central corridor shown on the floor plan to the left. The spaces on either side of that corridor will be let to businesses.  Tenants will enjoy access to such facilities as
- design and modelling
- prototyping and manufacturing
- workshops and wet laboratories
- precision measurement, and
- virtual laboratories
at the Centre.   In addition they will be able to enjoy many of the University's resources such as its library.

In his welcome speech, Patrick Allen, the Centre's Managing Director, explained that the mission was to provide access to growth. This was to be achieved through access to finance, access to markets and access to technology.   The University proposes to introduce its tenants to financial institutions, investors and professionals of all kinds who can provide such access. There will be a virtual community of tenants, investors, professionals and prominent business leaders who will mentor the tenants.

Other speakers at the event included

  • Isobel Mills of the Leeds Office of the Department of Business Innovation and Skills who raised quite a guffaw when she mentioned Vince Cable's Industrial Strategy
  • Brian Aungiers from UKTI who spoke about export, 
  • a chap from MAS (Manufacturing Advisory Service)    called Steve who spoke at length about his organization, its consortium members and how they divide the country and 
  • David Boath of PERA who gave the most entertaining presentation of the evening on how a good design for a dishwasher can come from designing the worst possible dishwasher not to mention poaching salmon in a dishwasher which is how a lady in Usk uses her appliance.
The whole of Yorkshire - nay the whole of .the whole of the North England and beyond - seem to have innovation centres where universities and businesses meet one another - yet, as I pointed out in my intervention to Mr. Allen, innovation in this region lags well behind South East England.   Will the 3M Buckley make a difference and, if so, why?

I for one will certainly do my best to help the Centre.  I have offered to help on behalf of my network of patent and trade mark attorneys, solicitors, product design consultants, angels, financial institutions and other contacts with talks, clinics and any other way I can.