Sheffield’s Olympic Legacy Park (OLP) was awarded £14m of funding in the 2015 Budget. The money will be invested in the park’s innovative Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) which is being delivered by Legacy Park Ltd in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University.
Set to become the most advanced research and development centre for physical activity in the world, the AWRC will form the centrepiece of the OLP.
It will feature indoor and outdoor facilities for over 50 researchers to carry out world-leading research on physical activity in collaboration with the private sector and based upon the highly successful Advanced Manufacturing Park in Sheffield.
The AWRC will undertake research focused upon taking services and products from concept to market, using the intellectual property, products and knowledge developed in the centre to generate both wealth and employment opportunities.
The Park will incorporate the English Institute of Sport Sheffield, iceSheffield and the Sheffield Eagles Rugby League Club’s new complex.
Professor Philip Jones, Sheffield Hallam University Vice-Chancellor, said:
We are delighted that the Government are backing our vision to develop the most advanced research and development centre for physical activity in the world.
The AWRC will play a leading role in revolutionising sport, health-care, physical activity and leisure. Working in collaboration with the private sector at the heart of the Olympic Legacy Park, our talented engineers and researchers will design new products and services from initial concept all the way through to market.
This will cement Sheffield Hallam’s global reputation for putting the science into sport and physical activity, but the AWRC will also be an exceptional asset for Sheffield and the wider region in helping to attract new jobs and investment. We are looking forward to working with our partners to see our vision come to fruition.”
Facilities at the AWRC will include a 7.5m high indoor laboratory, 4th generation pitch with cameras and tracking instruments, 3D biomechanical and gait analysis and scanning, a manufacturing workshop, MRI, X-ray, ultrasound, body composition measurement and physiological testing and a Future Technologies Laboratory.
Professor Steve Haake, Director of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC), said:
This is a really exciting day for Sheffield and the rest of the country. The founding of the AWRC here in Sheffield is recognition of the expertise we have in engineering, sport, physical activity and health. In a few years, people across the world will be trying to emulate what we’ve done here by coupling private sector and University expertise to help the population become more active.
The Olympic Legacy Park will provide organisations with the opportunity to co-locate at the world-class centre of excellence and partner with Sheffield Hallam University to carry out collaborative research and development, sparking new innovations that link the health and wellbeing, sports and technology sectors.
Through the AWRC’s close links with the National Centre of Sports and Exercise Medicine, researchers will be able to work with the population of Sheffield and use local communities to explore and test the potential of new innovations and products developed at the OLP.
The Rt. Hon Richard Caborn, project lead for the OLP, said:
This is hugely welcome backing. This project will put Sheffield firmly at the heart of delivering the Olympic legacy, as well as delivering one of the world’s best wellbeing institutions right on our doorsteps.
Countries around the world will now be looking to Sheffield as the leading light when it comes to the development of health and wellbeing technology.
The investment that Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, has helped to deliver from the Coalition Government will improve the health and wellbeing of thousands of people across the city, as well as delivering game-changing innovations and technology developments that will benefit even more people in the future.
Both the Olympic Legacy Park and the AWRC have the backing of the city’s two universities, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield College, the local authority and the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce.
Sir Andrew Cash, chief executive of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:
I welcome the funding announcement which is another huge step forward in our efforts to bring about a new era in the health and well-being of our city and further afield. As one of the largest providers of healthcare in the NHS, we see the devastating effects poor health and a lack of exercise causes. Sheffield is already home to the National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine and we now have the opportunity to work with other partners also at the forefront of research, technology, behaviour change and health innovation to make a real difference within the City and beyond. Achieving this will be an Olympic legacy to be proud of.