THE first companies are preparing to move into a new multi-million pound high-tech building in Huddersfield.
The 3M Buckley Innovation Centre will give firms the chance to develop advanced manufacturing in the town.
The University of Huddersfield is spearheading the £12m regeneration of the old Larchfield Mills site on Firth Street.
Vice chancellor Prof Bob Cryan said: “As a local lad, I want to see Huddersfield do well and I hope the new centre will create a buzz.”
The National Physics Laboratory will be among the first tenants of the new centre, opening an office in Huddersfield later this year.
Engineering firm Trac has also signed up for the centre, which officially opens in September.
The university hopes 100 companies employing 1,000 people will eventually use the building.
“There’s nothing like this available in Huddersfield,” said Prof Cryan.
“We want to encourage technological, chemical and advanced manufacturing companies to use the centre.
“We don’t want media or textile firms because they’re already catered for by the Media Centre and the Textile Centre of Excellence. Stealing tenants from someone else doesn’t help anyone.”
The European Regional Development Fund has put in 60% of the £12m cost of the centre with the university contributing 30% and Kirklees Council 10%.
Manufacturing giant 3M has paid for a professorship at the new centre, which is named after the company’s former chairman Sir George Buckley – a former student at Huddersfield.
Firms can start off by hiring as little as one desk, before moving to a larger office with a lab attached.
Companies will also have access to high-tech equipment, including:
A particle accelerator which can be used to develop cancer treatments.
A three-dimensional printer which can produce a prototype of a new product in hours, rather than weeks.
An acoustic camera which produces images using sound waves, allowing engineers to spot weaknesses in new products.
Prof Cryan believes high-tech firms will benefit from being in the same place.
“They will be rubbing shoulders in the coffee shop, it will get the whole supply chain talking to each other,” he said.
“We have board rooms and an exhibition space. If you want to impress a customer, they can’t fail to be impressed by the centre.”
Prof Cryan hopes the Firth Street centre will work in partnership with the university’s planned redevelopment of Globe Mills in Slaithwaite.
He said: “We want to create a pipeline of companies that start here and then move out to make room for other companies.
“Globe Mills is three times the size of the Buckley Centre so firms may wish to base their design teams in Huddersfield and their manufacturing in Slaithwaite”.