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Digital technology institute at the heart of Sheffield Channel 4 bid

14 July 2017

Plans to move Channel 4 to Sheffield could lead to a national institute of digital talent and technology being established in the city.

Sheffield City Council, which is leading the city’s bid to establish a northern base for the broadcaster, has also released a new image of what a new site could look like at the entrance to Sheffield Station.

A Sheffield headquarters for Channel 4 could bring up to 4,050 highly-skilled jobs to the city by 2027, create an additional £1bn for the economy over the next 10 years, and be achieved at no cost to the broadcaster.

The plans for a new digital talent and technology centre, and an offer to Channel 4 executives to base its operations at the Digital Campus on Sheaf Street, are revealed in the Council’s response to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s consultation, Increasing the Regional Impact of Channel 4 Corporation.

Councillor Julie Dore, the Leader of Sheffield City Council, has also written to the Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), in support of the city’s bid.

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and investment at Sheffield City Council, said: “Establishing a new world-leading centre for digital technology in Sheffield, with its proud reputation for innovation and forward-thinking, would be an excellent complement to a move by Channel 4.

“We have seen in Media City in Manchester just how beneficial having educational and business links close to a media organisation can be, allowing them to build up natural and productive relationships.

“Channel 4, with its reputation for innovative and cutting edge broadcasting, is perfect for our city. The potential site is within a stone’s throw of Park Hill, the location for many films and a cultural icon in its own right.

“Sheffield is the home to Doc/Fest, one of the largest global documentary film festivals. And the city’s enviable transport links and talent have already brought Boeing and McLaren Automotive here in recent months. Throw in the city’s two Universities with their journalism and media courses and you have a compelling case for Sheffield to be a new home for the broadcaster.”

The bid to DCMS says that Sheffield’s personality is a natural fit with Channel 4’s. The city does things differently and is fiercely independent. The city is not afraid to challenge authority, stand up to the status quo and make trouble.

It goes on to say that through Doc/Fest and collaborations with Sheffield’s two Universities; the city is developing the new talent and new technologies that will shape the way people will consume content in the future. It wants to leverage the power of Channel 4 to take that to an altogether different level and grow new sectors of the economy, develop new talent, in a new place for Channel 4.

Sheffield City Council has offered Channel 4 a prime location at the heart of the city, right next to the main railway station, with high speed, direct rail services to ever major UK city, and the prospect of HS2 and HS3 in years to come, connecting Channel 4 to the independent sector.

In addition to that, the Council has offered Channel 4 space at the Digital Campus, which provides 80,000 square ft of Grade A office space, which it could move into immediately.

Professor Christina Hughes, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience at Sheffield Hallam University, added: “As a University, we fully support Sheffield’s bid to provide a new home for Channel 4. If successful the presence of Channel 4 in Sheffield would provide a massive boost to the city’s flourishing creative digital and communication sectors and build upon its huge potential.

“Having a world class organisation like Channel 4 on our doorstep would open up exciting opportunities for our students and staff. The bid shows the depths of partnerships that the City and its universities are able to galvanise to support strategically important initiatives like this.”

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City & Cultural Engagement at the University of Sheffield, said “Sheffield is a unique and creative place which often does something interesting and out of the ordinary, much like Channel 4 does. We have a fantastic creative industry in this city and this is a huge opportunity to expand upon this.”

Andy Barratt, from digital agency Joi Polloi, added: “Sheffield has quietly developed into a buoyant, vibrant and energetic city in which to live and work. Whilst we may be modest by nature we are also fearless risk takers, natural innovators, creative to the core and lead the way in diversity. I believe there is no better place economically, geographically or culturally than Sheffield for Channel 4 to call home.”