Chinese billionaires in Huddersfield to look at investment opportunities outside London

A group of high-powered investors from China has toured Huddersfield's educational and business "hotspots"

The Mayor and Mayoress of Kirklees, Clrs Ken Smith and Christine Smith, along with MP Barry Sheerman (centre) welcome Wenmei Du (centre left) and her delegation from the China Innovation and Development Association who were visiting the town.

A group of high-powered Chinese investors have been given a tour of Huddersfield business and education “hotspots” – and came away much impressed by the town.

Now it is hoped to develop links with the visitors, multi-millionaires and members of the Chinese Innovation and Development Association,which could bring major investment and jobs to the town.

Huddersfield University, Kirklees College, the John Smith’s Stadium and the Textile Centre of Excellence were among business and educational “hotspots” on the itinerary for the visitors, who included two billionaires and business leaders in fields as varied as transport, education, real estate and finance.

The tour was organised by Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman, chairman of the Manufacturing Group of MPs at Westminster.

The party was greeted in St George’s Square by the Mayor and Mayoress of Kirklees, Clrs Ken Smith and Christine Smith, before their tour, which also took in the former Kirklees College complex at New North Road – now a six-acre development site on the market for £3m.

The party was given a tour of the university’s “Innovation Avenue” at the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre in Firth Street to see some of the cutting-edge research clustered around the university. They were also introduced to a host of local companies.

In the afternoon, the delegation was treated to a tour of the John Smith’s Stadium and the Textile Centre of Excellence

Mr Sheerman, who first met members of the delegation at an awards presentation for young entrepreneurs held by the Bank of China, said: “They are looking for investment opportunities outside London. One of the delegation is interested in property investment and another is seeking to develop a science park with universities.

“These things are just possibilities, but I was keen to show them what Huddersfield has to offer. We were the cradle of the industrial revolution and China is at the heart of the new industrial revolution.”

Mr Sheerman said the delegation was very impressed that Huddersfield University had been named University of the Year and by the quality of the people they met. They were interested to hear about the multi-million pound HD1 project to develop leisure facilities alongside the John Smith’s Stadium – where staff rolled out the red carpet for the visitors.

He said: “They loved the new Kirklees College and they were impressed by the technology at the Textile Centre of Excellence.”

 

Bill Macbeth, managing director at the textile centre in Red Doles Lane, presented the VIPs with cashmere and woollen scarves during their visit to the centre. They will also be sent a sample of the Yorkshire signature DNA fabric – developed as an anti-counterfeiting measure to protect the region’s textile “brand”.

He said: “They were exceedingly surprised and impressed by the level of technology at the centre, which they described as outstanding. They said it had changed their whole perception of textiles in the UK.”

Mr Sheerman said: ‘I’m thrilled the trip has gone so well. If Huddersfield is to thrive in the 21st century we need to forge strong international partnerships with booming economies like China and that’s exactly what we were able to do today’

‘It is, of course, too early to say how many concrete investment opportunities will emerge from this trip, but I am confident this trip will deliver serious investment for Huddersfield.”

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