Research centres are a step closer

The structural steelworks of Sheffield Hallam University’s two new research centres are now in place.

Building work led by BAM Construction Ltd is progressing quickly on the University’s National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering (NCEFE) and Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC), which will be based at Sheffield Hallam’s Health Innovation Park.

Situated at the heart of the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, the Health Innovation Park will bring together research and innovation alongside education, health, leisure and business. Providing opportunities for organisations that are active in health innovation to co-locate on the Health Innovation Park, the site will become a model of urban development that will drive economic growth, health improvements and community wellbeing.

Sheffield Hallam’s NCEFE, which is set to open next year, will focus on the application of engineering to improve food processing and address an industry-recognised shortage of food engineering expertise.

Designed to tackle food industry challenges such as productivity, health, minimising waste and reducing energy use, the NCEFE will support the food and drink industry through collaborative research and development projects and by developing new and enhanced facilities, processes and equipment and creating a knowledgeable workforce with experience of leading engineering systems and processes.

It will also include pilot-scale production facilities, laboratories, workshops and teaching spaces and will play a strategic role in developing advanced engineering capability for the food and drink industry, providing a major competitive advantage to the sector.

The Centre, and the associated Food Engineering degree programme, has been developed in partnership with the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, along with funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Office for Students (formerly HEFCE).

Professor Roger Eccleston, Pro Vice-Chancellor for research at Sheffield Hallam, said: “The Health Innovation Park will be a pioneering place that will translate excellent research into practical innovations to tackle the world’s health challenges and significantly improve global health and wellbeing, UK productivity and export potential.

“The NCEFE will support the food and drink industry in helping to keep the UK at the forefront of capability and efficiency in a very competitive sector.

“This project builds on our existing strong track record of attracting investment and providing excellent research and knowledge transfer, working in partnership with industry to develop education programmes that are designed to support organisations in narrowing the skills gap within the region and beyond.”

Set to become the most advanced research centre in the world for developing innovations that will improve population health and physical activity levels, the AWRC will form the centrepiece of the Health Innovation Park and will look to increase people’s mobility through lifestyle change and technological innovation to reduce the risk and consequences of chronic diseases.

The key facility, which is situated opposite the NCEFE and is set to open later next year, has been supported by the Department of Health and Social Care, who have committed £14million of funding to the project.

The new Centre will feature indoor and outdoor facilities for 70 researchers to carry out world-leading research on health and physical activity in collaboration with the general public and private sector, with a focus on taking services and products from concept to market.

In 2015, Canon Medical Systems (formerly Toshiba Medical) and Westfield Health were announced as the first major, private sector partners of the AWRC and will provide cutting edge equipment and technology to assist with research. parkrun became the AWRC’s third major partner in 2016 and will work together with their two million registered runners to improve their health and wellbeing.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity and the Sheffield Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Wosskow Brown Foundation and the Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust have also become partners.

Its close links with the National Centre of Sport and Exercise Medicine will enable researchers to work with the population of Sheffield and use local communities to explore and test the potential of new innovations and products.

Professor Alison Metcalfe, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University’s Faculty of Health and Wellbeing said: “Mobility is fundamental to a person’s physical and mental health. Finding new and diverse interventions to increase people’s mobility and engagement with physical activity and exercise across their lifespan can transform their health significantly.

“Bringing together public and private sector organisations is vitally important to developing products and services when it comes to growing our economy and UK productivity and our own practitioners, scientists, engineers and designers here at Sheffield Hallam regularly collaborate to address global health concerns.”

Richard Caborn, project lead for Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, said “Seeing the steelwork on the AWRC rise six storeys above Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park is another key milestone in the redevelopment of Attercliffe.

“We are bringing wealth creation and job opportunities to the region, providing tangible evidence of how Sheffield is delivering the Olympic legacy of economic regeneration.”

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