A cohort of business and education leaders in the United Kingdom city of Sheffield has launched a new business incubator aimed at attracting investment from China.
The newly formed China UK Business Incubator, which is also called CUBI, is a not-for-profit social enterprise supported by Sheffield-based property developer New Era Development, the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, Sheffield Hallam University, the University of Sheffield, and Sheffield City Council.
The CUBI will offer support to UK business looking to trade with China and supply incubation space to Chinese nationals interested in setting up businesses in Sheffield.
CUBI will also look to support and increase the city's already sizeable Chinese student population. Sheffield University is home to 4,000 Chinese students, and the Sheffield Confucius Institute is regarded as one of the country's leading centers of China and UK educational collaboration.
Jerry Cheung, managing director of New Era, said CUBI comes at a crucial time as British regions look to build trade links with markets outside Europe ahead of the UK's exit from the European Union.
"The overarching objective is to create wealth and jobs for the people and businesses of the city of Sheffield and the local region," said Cheung.
The incubator is located at the New Era building complex in Sheffield's Chinatown, which includes the 21-storey Jade Tower. Construction began on the 65-million-pound ($85.2 million) complex in 2015 and an initial block of 100 student apartments was completed last year.
In August, New Era secured an additional 27 million pounds of funding from Barclays, which will go toward the construction of more student apartments, restaurants, and retail and office accommodation around a central plaza.
Kevin Kerrigan, vice-chancellor for enterprise at Sheffield Hallam University, said the incubator will "cement Sheffield's position as the northern gateway" for Chinese enterprise and act as an education and innovation hub for Chinese students.
"We look forward to strengthening our links with China and creating new jobs and opportunities for our graduates and others living within the city region," Kerrigan said.
Sheffield Council has actively courted Chinese investors for several years. In July 2016, the Sichuan Guodong Construction Company announced plans to invest 1 billion pounds in development projects in Sheffield during a 60-year period.
The deal was billed as the biggest-ever Chinese investment into the UK outside of London, and involves an initial tranche of 220 million pounds in funding for up to five development projects, including a major hotel, student accommodation, and retail and leisure space.
The initial project explored by Guodong was the proposed conversion of Sheffield's central library into a five-star hotel. In November, Sheffield City Council revealed all additional projects associated with the development deal had been put on hold while Guodong assesses the feasibility of the hotel plan.