As 2023 draws to a close, it’s the perfect time to reflect on yet another outstanding year at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park. As the home of world-class innovation in sport, health and wellbeing, we continue to move forward with our ambitious plans to become the leading life sciences park in the north of England.
We kickstarted the year with completion of the funding for the groundbreaking National Centre for Child Health Technology (NCCHT) – led by Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, this global first centre will develop the world’s most advanced and integrated healthcare system for children and young people.
Due to begin construction in 2024, the NCCHT will focus on developing technologies to address key national strategic priorities in child health including prevention and health inequalities, children’s mental health, obesity, long term conditions, children’s cancer, and children’s disability.
The NCCHT represents the cornerstone for the next phase of the Park’s evolution, where up to 1 million sq ft of commercial space which will be delivered by our development partner, Scarborough Group International (SGI), and will include an Innovation Centre, a Move On Building and Active Travel Hub.
In February this year, SGI opened Landing Pad, an innovative flex workspace within the Community Stadium aimed at start-up and scale-up businesses within the sports, health and wellbeing sectors. Landing Pad offers a gateway to a unique ecosystem of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, advisors, and service providers that will enable businesses to successfully grow and fulfil their potential.
Between April and June Propel Teams, in collaboration with Google Cloud, successfully delivered the first Jump Accelerator at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park. The sports technology accelerator programme selected 17 start-ups from an extensive pool of applicants across the fields of sport, personal health and wellbeing, and provided advice and support to improve and advance each business.
Also this year, Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre launched its third Wellbeing Accelerator, a programme which has supported 40 SMEs to date and provides dedicated innovation, investment, growth and R&D support for high-potential start-ups and scale-ups across advanced health and wellbeing. Up to 12 companies will be selected to join a tailored six-month programme to begin early in 2024.
Sheffield Hallam University also announced plans for a Health Innovation Campus based at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, building on the University’s existing presence at the Park where over 200 researchers are co-located at the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre and National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering. Future developments as part of the Health Innovation Campus include an Advanced Health and Care Skills Centre and a Nursery of the Future.
In October, Sheffield Hallam University joined forces with the University of Sheffield to launch the £4 million South Yorkshire Digital Health Hub, an ambitious new digital healthcare hub set to lead the UK’s digital health revolution and address inequalities in patient care.
Also in October, we welcomed the opening of Canon Medical Arena at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park. Developed by Canon Medical Systems, the Arena is the UK’s first carbon-neutral built community sports and event arena. It also houses an integrated Medical Diagnostic Centre which plays host to Canon Medical Research Europe’s Safe Haven Artificial Intelligence (AI) Platform.
The Arena provides a permanent home for Sheffield Sharks and Sheffield Hatters professional basketball teams and DNC netball. The junior basketball and netball teams engage with over 1,000 families across the city, providing a focus and inspiration to participate in sport in an affordable and accessible location.
The Medical Diagnostic Centre, operated by LivingCare, brings healthcare services closer to the community. It provides a central location for imaging referrals from professional sports clubs, and health insurance companies and offers the NHS additional capacity for scans and imaging procedures.
Our education establishments at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park have also seen success this year.
UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, a technical school for 13 to 19-year-olds specialising in computing, health sciences and sport science, has continued to deliver the Digital Skills for Health Project – a national programme, sponsored by NHS England, designed to equip young people with the digital skills to excel in health and sport science careers.
As part of this programme, the UTC hosted two major student events this year – a Digital, Data and Technology showcase event as part of the NHS 75th celebrations in July and an Advanced Patient Experience Conference in November. Both events were supported by NHS and corporate partners, including Google Health and Amazon Web Services, who delivered collaborative workshops and other sessions designed to inspire the workforce of the future. These events provided opportunities for the students to explore the applications of technology within health and wellbeing, and the huge range of career opportunities available.
The UTC once again enjoyed strong GSCE, A Level and technical results with students progressing to a range of top destinations locally, nationally and internationally.
Oasis Academy Don Valley, which opened its doors in 2015, celebrated its first cohort of students taking their GCSE’s this summer. In addition, the Academy recently received its second Ofsted inspection and continues to be rated ‘Good’ with an ‘Outstanding’ rating for early years provision.
As part of Move More Month in June, we hosted our second ‘Olympic Legacy in Action’ community event in collaboration with Yorkshire Sport Foundation, School Sports Partnerships, and partners from across the Park and wider city. The event was kindly sponsored by Westfield Health and, throughout the three days, we welcomed over 3,500 people to the Park, providing 29 different sport and physical activity taster sessions and other activities.
We were also delighted to launch our Legacy Fund grant giving programme this year and have already donated almost £30,000 to community organisations in the local area. The fund was introduced to support groups to provide events and activities that promote physical and mental health and wellbeing and reduce social isolation.
The Sheffield City Trust facilities on the Park continue to go from strength the strength.
The English Institute of Sport Sheffield (EISS) has been recognised as a UK Sport accredited Elite Training Centre, an accolade which recognises the role played by the venue in supporting NGBs and helping athletes achieve their full potential.
EISS has a strong history in hosting prominent sports events and this year has been no different, with national, regional and international championships including British Youth Fencing Championships, World Snooker Qualifiers, 4 Nations Para Badminton Championships, European Para Table Tennis Championships and the BUCS Nationals.
In December, the British Ice Skating National Championships was hosted at iceSheffield and, in preparation for this year’s World Championships, iceSheffield was the chosen destination for France’s National U18 Team’s training camp.
As well as showcasing elite sporting achievement, both venues ensure that a strong community connection underpins all activities. iceSheffield has the largest Learn to Skate programme in the country and the annual Christmas Show features participants from the programme in the performance, which this year celebrated iceSheffield’s 20th anniversary with four sell-out shows.
EISS’s strength in disability sports makes it the perfect host of the annual two-day ‘Celebration of Disability Sport’ event. This event offers a vibrant day for both adults and children raising the profile of the availability of disability sports across the City. Other disability sports events hosted at EISS include the regional ‘Wheel Power’ event and in collaboration with UK Sport and Paralympics GB, a celebration event of disability sport, which provided an opportunity for constructive collaboration between entry participation and the National Governing Bodies at the EISS.
Since the inception of Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park in 2015, the ambition has always been to create a legacy from the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, and this has been supported through a unique partnership with the British Olympic Association (BOA). In September, we were delighted to host a visit from Andy Anson, Chief Executive of the BOA, to showcase how we are bringing to life and delivering that legacy in collaboration with a wide range of public and private sector partners.
Mr Anson commented: “The agreement between the British Olympic Association and Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park goes beyond sport. We are looking at the broader picture of health and wellbeing and it’s clear to see that this emerging life sciences cluster in the heart of South Yorkshire will benefit both the local community and the wellbeing of the nation.”
So, as we reach the end of 2023, we are safe in the knowledge that together we have created something truly special – a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and the shared vision of all our partners – and we look forward to an exciting year ahead in 2024.