£3m Huddersfield project is designed to support SMEs


Huddersfield’s 3M Buckley Innovation Centre and the University of Huddersfield have recently secured an award worth £3m to deliver benefits for SMEs.

It’s the Huddersfield Incubation and Innovation Project, designed to capture the benefits of digitalisation, design innovation and smart manufacturing, enabling SMEs companies to become faster, more responsive and closer to customers.

The funding has been provided through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority on behalf of the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.

The 3M BIC, based on Hudderfield’s Firth Street, will see a significant investment in equipment and facilities, enhancing the Centre’s and the University’s unique technological and business support offering to its tenants, network members and wider regional industries.

As a result of the award, 3M BIC will bring in state-of-the-art equipment spread across all three floors of the Centre, enabling it to provide:

  • A dedicated additive manufacturing centre with equipment from UK manufacturer Renishaw, for 3D printing in metals including titanium, steel and others allowing businesses to create prototypes for rapid product development.
  • An industrial X-ray CT unit to investigate part integrity, and a range of state-of-the-art Zeiss imaging equipment to inspect manufactured surfaces, materials and biological samples, including living cells, using high performance optical, laser and electron microscopy.
  • A dedicated 3D visualisation zone on the second floor covering both product presentations, reverse engineering and business data visualisation, and the “Byte” maker space comprising three zones, “MakeIT” for 3D printing, “SeeIT” for VR & videography and “PlayIT” for game developers, based within the Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Centre (DOYYEC) on the first floor. Both will have facilities for eye tracking to allow business to “see” what their customers are looking at.
  • A fully equipped computer software training room with the latest Microsoft technology in clouding and the ground-breaking Surface Hub for ‘joined-up’ team training.

Investment is already taking place with the installation of the first piece of equipment, a professional polymer 3D printer, based in the Atrium of the 3M BIC. The printer allows businesses to create prototypes to get them print ready when undertaking metal additive manufacture.

As part of the funding, a dedicated project officer has been appointed to kickstart the project and streamline the installation of the equipment. Janine Downs joins the wider 3M BIC team, having previously worked in the School of Education at the University of Huddersfield.

Dr Michael Wilson, Centre Manager at the 3M BIC, said: “This is a really exciting time for the 3M BIC, the University and regional industry as a whole. It provides a great opportunity to give Huddersfield’s economy a boost, by giving businesses the tools they need to innovate and grow.

“Having this injection of funding will enable us to invest in technology that we have identified as beneficial to businesses within the City Region, that we will make available to all businesses that have a need.”