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Development of a new £7m+ research and development centre, alongside delivery of a specialised business support programme for SMEs, has begun on campus at Production Park. 

A partnership between Backstage Academy and Wakefield Council, the project has secured £3,564,852 of grant funding from the European Regional Development Fund. Additional investment from Backstage Academy will support the development of a specialist centre for R&D, dedicated to supporting innovation within the live events industry and its supply chain. 

The state-of-the-art facility will sit on the existing Production Park site on the Langthwaite Business Park and will be an anchor development for Backstage Academy. It will give SMEs access to resources and support to help them undertake product development in a purpose built environment. 

“The new research and innovation centre will be a catalyst for change; not just for the global live events industry, but also in providing support and regeneration opportunities for SMEs and start-ups within the local region. This facility is the natural next step for Backstage Academy as we continue to grow our innovative portfolio of specialist vocational training courses and look to develop our own research profile as an independent higher education provider.” 

said Rachel Nicholson, Head of Backstage Academy. 

The 2,520m2 building will include large scale design and prototype spaces suitable for physical and virtual environments; multi-use spaces suitable for SME workshops, presentations and meetings; workshop space equipped with specialist equipment in areas such as rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing; pre-visualisation suites; and design spaces where scenic artists and creative businesses can explore new techniques. 

Artist Impression
Artist Impression

Running alongside this will be a business support programme focused on assisting SMEs within the sector. Building on the knowledge and reputation of Backstage Academy and Production Park, the Backstage Innovation Centre Project will offer industry specific support to help SMEs progress in this growing sector covering specialisms such as music, TV, film, sports, corporate events, theatre and arts. 

Project Lead Jav Khan said: 

“We recognise that there are some wonderful business support programmes out there already. Our intention is to avoid replication, instead focusing on what we know businesses within this sector need in order to grow. The contacts, expertise and experience of the delivery partners means we have access to knowledge and resources that is both industry specific and relevant to the businesses we will work with, allowing us to provide a truly tailored support programme” 

Whilst the centre is due to open in 2021, the business support programme will kick off earlier in June 2020.

For more information about the Backstage Innovation Centre Project, click the link below.

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