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University launches international search for a partner for its North Campus Development

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The University of Manchester’s Board of Governors has approved a proposal to seek a corporate partner to develop its North Campus site in Manchester city centre into a world-class innovation district over the next 20 years.

This development is made possible by the scheduled move of the University’s engineering schools to the new multi-million Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD) adjacent to the University’s main Oxford Road campus, in 2021.

Working with its partner, the University expects that the mixed-use site will attract research, development, cultural and technology companies, as well as accommodating new residential space. The area and buildings for development are around Sackville Street and adjacent to Piccadilly Rail and Metrolink stations. The plan is to develop the 11.8 hectare (29 acre) site into an exciting research and business campus, where the world’s most valuable ideas will be transformed into reality.

The University will retain significant strategic and decision-making influence within the partnership. It will retain the south end of the site where it has significant research activity, including the newly built Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre and the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, and it will continue to hold the freehold for the whole site.

Targeting technology and science-related occupiers, the site will focus on specialities which combine the research and industrial strengths of the University and the city region with national economic priorities. These will include advanced materials, applied health innovation, artificial intelligence and digital technology and industrial biotechnology.

The development is projected to generate potentially up to £2 billion of growth* over the next 20 years or more for the local economy and is projected to create up to 6,000 jobs. It will also help to ensure the long-term financial strength of the University by delivering a continuing future income stream for investment in the University’s educational and research activities.

Plans are at an early stage and the next step will be a rigorous search for a partner. The University has been discussing its plans with Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. It is envisaged that work on the site will begin after the University transfers staff and existing facilities into its new MECD buildings in 2021.

North Campus represents a unique opportunity to create an exciting innovation district within a UK city-centre location. It will be allied to one of the UK’s foremost research-intensive universities, with high connectivity to a skilled local workforce. It will provide opportunities for graduate employment and student placements; and the development will benefit from outstanding transport links, plus access to national and international markets.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, said of the development: “We will be launching an international search in the next few months to find the very best joint venture partner to work with us to develop this prime site with its landmark buildings and unique footprint in the heart of the city.

“The development offers the opportunity to transform this quarter of the city centre, generate thousands of new jobs and advance the reputation of the University. It will cement the reputation of the city as the place to be for technology, digital, research and development businesses – where the world’s most valuable ideas will be transformed into reality.”

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council commented: “The potential of the North Campus site is huge and this is great news for Manchester.

“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.”