A business titan helped celebrate the 10th anniversary of a pioneering innovation hub that bears his name.

Sir George Buckley was the special guest at an event to mark the first decade of the University of Huddersfield’s 3M Buckley Innovation Centre (3M BIC).

The £12 million 3M BIC was created on the site of a near derelict mill in Firth Street and was opened in May 2013. It was designed to encourage technology and innovation and bridge the gap between industry and academia.

Yorkshire-born Sir George is a former chairman and CEO of giant US-based technology company 3M. Later he was chairman of Stanley Black & Decker Inc, the world’s largest maker of hand and power tools, and was also on the board of Hitachi, the Japanese industrial conglomerate, and PepsiCo Inc, the US food and drink giant.

The son of a Sheffield steelworker, Sir George gained a BSc in electrical and electronic engineering at the then Huddersfield Polytechnic.

In October 2020 Sir George became Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield aiming to inspire the next generation in business and academia.

In his speech Sir George regaled an audience of business leaders and academics with anecdotes from his business career but the main thread was how innovation was the key to success.

He described business as a “giant Darwinian struggle” and said: “Innovation is the unlock code for growth.”

Sir George told how he came to Huddersfield as a student in the 1970s wondering “if I could hack it” as a “poor boy from Sheffield.”

His education at Huddersfield provided the foundations and helped him grow in confidence.

“There comes a point in your life when you realise most of the things you do are right and so it’s an issue of self-confidence,” said Sir George.

“Success breeds confidence and confidence breeds confidence. Not everything you do will be successful – if that was the case we’d all be billionaires – but the more you do it, the more successful you become.

“Have the spirit and courage to believe in yourself. The power of innovation has the power to change lives.”

Prof Bob Cryan CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, hailed the success of the 3M BIC and said how, as a “lad from Deighton”, he was proud at how the centre was building a legacy for the town.

“We are putting something back, changing mindsets and helping graduates create their own businesses and futures,” he said.

He praised Prof Liz Towns-Andrews OBE as one of the driving forces behind the 3M BIC and thanked all those who had played a part in the 10-year journey.

Prof Cryan added: “The University of Huddersfield has a longstanding belief in the power of business and university collaboration.

“Over 12 years ago, we had a vision to create a hub that would help bridge the gap between the commercial and academic worlds, actively promote innovation and enterprise and support regional economic growth.

“It has been rewarding seeing that vision come to fruition over the last decade through the 3M BIC.”

The event also heard from two successful Huddersfield businesses which have grown with the support of the 3M BIC and the university.

One was Claire Paxman, of Fenay Bridge-based Paxman, the leading global manufacturer and supplier of scalp cooling equipment for the prevention of hair loss during chemotherapy.

Claire told how the family business was inspired to use its expertise in refrigeration in a new and innovative way by her mum’s hair loss experience as a cancer patient.

The firm collaborated with the University of Huddersfield on research and development and Claire added: “We would not be where we are but for the 3M BIC. We are changing the face of cancer from Huddersfield.”

Software firm Adventoris has been based at the 3M BIC since it was founded. CEO James Clarkson told how the firm ran out of money and had just made all but two staff redundant when a potential client wanted to visit their premises.

In order to secure the business James paid his staff to come back to ensure it looked like they had a busy office – and the rest is history!

The firm now has 50 employees and over 200 clients and is about to move to bigger premises.

The event was hosted by 3M BIC’s CEO Sue Cooke, who said: “The 3M BIC has always been ahead of its time, inspiring many hubs that have followed in recent years.

“As enablers of innovation and enterprise, we help companies innovate and develop ideas through access to our technology and links to the University of Huddersfield.

“Organisations can also build networks with our businesses and associated partners and put down roots in one of our office or lab spaces.

“We have built a great community over the last 10 years and are looking forward to the next 10.”