Huddersfield Unlimited recently spoke with Sue Cooke, the CEO of the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre (3M BIC), ahead of its 10-year anniversary (May 23rd). We asked Sue about 3M BIC’s background, successes, plans and hopes for the future.  

What is your background?
I started my career in the Civil Service in Yorkshire, gaining practical experience in managing people. Later, I worked in Training & Enterprise Councils and Business Link, where I obtained an MBA. I then ran my own consultancy business and taught MBA strategy.

More recently, I moved into economic development within local government and played a role in setting up the LEP at the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

What inspired you to join Huddersfield Unlimited?
I was inspired to join Huddersfield Unlimited to represent the University and 3M Buckley Innovation Centre in the future development of Huddersfield. I saw the opportunity to connect the work of Huddersfield Unlimited with the efforts of the University, local authority, and regional LEP/Combined Authority, especially to make the most of the health and wellbeing cluster.

Please could you explain your role within Huddersfield Unlimited?
I contribute to the working group focusing on the health, med-tech, and digital agenda, as well as making links to the inward investment community across West Yorkshire.

What motivated you to take on the role of CEO at the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre
As the CEO of the 3M BIC, I was motivated to strengthen its business support services, enhance links with the University’s schools, increase awareness and SME engagement, and expand innovation and technology offerings.

As the 10-year anniversary of the 3M BIC approaches, can you reflect on some of the key milestones and achievements of the centre over the past decade?
Over the past decade, the 3M BIC has made significant strides in supporting businesses and driving innovation in Huddersfield. With 55 businesses benefiting from location in the centre, all of them have experienced growth and success, many with distinctive innovative capabilities.

Recognition in national reports, awards and white papers, as well as visits from ministers, government agencies and the Mayor of West Yorkshire, acknowledges the 3M BIC’s reputation as a leading innovation hub.

Are you marking the 3M BIC’s 10th Anniversary in any way?
We are hosting a celebration on Tuesday 23rd May, with Sir George Buckley as our keynote speaker, alongside University and Kirklees Council representatives and businesses that have been a part of the 3M BIC journey. The event will celebrate the Centre’s past, present and future.

We have planted a cherry tree at the front of the building with a plaque to mark the milestone.

How has the 3M BIC evolved since its inception, and what impact has it had on the local community and businesses in the region?
The 3M BIC has benefited the local community and evolved as one of the pioneering innovation centres, bridging the gap between industry and academia.

An investment of over £4m in cutting-edge technology, including 3D printers and advanced equipment, has provided SMEs with access to unprecedented capabilities.

We have also played a key role in the launch of the Kirklees Top 100 Companies list.

Can you talk about some of the success stories that have emerged from the centre, and how do you think these have helped to inspire and support other entrepreneurs and innovators in the region?
Success stories from the centre include Adventoris, which has grown into a leading international sales and marketing tool, and Ionix, a global leader in high-performance sensors and piezoelectric materials.

What is your personal vision for the town in the next 10 years?
The University’s growth propels our region, with graduates securing quality jobs and launching new businesses. Our economy thrives on enhanced skills, whilst innovation rejuvenates our economy, leading to a vibrant town centre, flourishing communities, and successful independent establishments.

I’d like to see the new National Health Innovation Campus thriving in a green environment, alongside the University campus and town centre.

On a personal level, what do you love most about the town?
Personally, I love Huddersfield for its beautiful location in the Pennines, its vibrant business community, excellent education sector, and the strong bonds among its local communities.