University of Manchester seeks JV partner for £1.5bn innovation district

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The University of Manchester is searching a development partner to deliver a new “Innovation District” worth £1.5 billion.

By U2B Staff 

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The University of Manchester (UM) is preparing for the future and is in search of a development partner to deliver a new “Innovation District” worth £1.5 billion (US$1.95 billion) right in the centre of the UK’s Capital of the North.

The University hopes ID Manchester, as the centre will be called, will bring together “a dynamic, world-class community with innovation, collaboration and enterprise at its heart.” UM has submitted a prior information notice (PIN) to begin pre-market engagement as part of its search to find an investor and development partner to bring their vision to life.

“We are looking for the very best joint-venture partner to work with us to develop this prime site in the heart of the city which will generate thousands of new jobs,” said President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, Professor Nancy Rothwell.

“[ID Manchester] will enhance the reputation of the University and the city as the place where the world’s most valuable ideas are transformed into reality.”

Once complete, the centre is expected to create over 6,000 new jobs and include approximately 325,000 sq metres of mixed-use space, including three acres of high-quality public realm.

The area designated for the project is adjacent to the central Piccadilly Railway Station and falls under the city’s Strategic Regeneration Framework (SRF).

Transforming underutilised and poorly connected zones into quality areas comprising a series of “neighbourhoods of choice” is a key tenet of the SRF. ID Manchester aims to contribute to the policy, which seeks to create districts where streets, squares and parks are given primacy and development is appropriately balanced.

“The potential of ID Manchester is huge,” said Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council.

“There are tremendous opportunities to regenerate this distinctive part of the city and we welcome the University’s growth, investment and job-creation ambitions for the development.”

Innovation Districts, such as ID Manchester, are becoming popular in emerging urban models for many cities still recovering from the financial crisis. They work to regenerate previously neglected neighbourhoods and combat inefficient land use and environmental degradation.

These districts are areas where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators and accelerators. They are also physically compact, transit-accessible, and technically-wired and are comprised of a unique mix of innovation drivers.

“ID Manchester will build upon the proud history of bold ideas, discovery and invention established by the University here,” said Diana Hampson, Director of Estates and Facilities of The University of Manchester.

“It will attract the most forward-thinking, like-minded individuals and businesses with the chance to establish their UK HQ, start up or scale up their company, take on and benefit from disruptive technologies and ideas or simply come and enjoy this inspirational space.”

The chosen development partner will help the university deliver their vision for an outstanding new community, on the last site of its size and scale yet to be developed in the city centre.