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Source: City of Wakefield

​Wakefield Council, in partnership with higher education provider Backstage Academy, have secured £3.5million of grant funding for the live events sector within the region.

The funding, secured from the European Regional Development Fund along with additional investment from Backstage Academy, will help to support innovation within the live events industry and its supply chain through the development of a specialist hub. 

The hub, which will be a state-of-the-art facility on the existing Production Park site on the Langthwaite Business Park in South Kirkby, will give small and medium enterprises (SMEs) access to resources and support to help them undertake product research and development in a purpose built environment. 

​Cllr Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have received this grant funding in partnership with Backstage Academy.

“Wakefield is fast becoming a leading light in the live events sector and this will provide an even bigger boost to create dynamic start-ups in the area and develop innovative products that will be taken worldwide.

“It will help to attract new businesses and investment to Wakefield, as well as developing those we already have here. It’s an extremely exciting project for our district.”

Rachel Nicholson, Head of Backstage Academy, said: “The new research and innovation centre will be a catalyst for change; not just for the global live events industry, but also in providing support and regeneration opportunities for SMEs and start-ups within the local region.

“This facility is the natural next step for Backstage Academy as we continue to grow our innovative portfolio of specialist vocational training courses and look to develop our own research profile as an independent higher education provider.”

The 2,520m2 building will include large scale design and prototype spaces suitable for physical and virtual environments; multi-use spaces suitable for SME workshops, presentations and meetings; workshop space equipped with specialist equipment in areas such as rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing; pre-visualisation suites; and design spaces where scenic artists and creative businesses can explore new techniques.

Another element of the innovation centre will be the establishment of a business support programme focused on assisting SMEs within the sector. Building on the knowledge and reputation of Backstage Academy and Production Park, the Backstage Innovation Hub project will offer industry specific support to help SMEs progress in this growing sector covering specialisms such as music, TV, film, sports, corporate events, theatre and arts.

Whilst the centre is due to open in 2021, the business support programme will commence in June 2020. 

For more information on the project, find out about the support available and keep up to date on the development, visit www.wakefieldfirst.com/innovation, or contact the project team on backstageinnovationhub@wakefield.gov.uk

MIL OSI United Kingdom