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Liverpool City Region unveils multi-billion pound innovation plan to deliver UK’s science superpower ambition

2 years ago

Liverpool City Region unveils multi-billion pound innovation plan to deliver UK’s science superpower ambition

Mayor Steve Rotheram today unveiled a multi-billion pound plan to supercharge the Liverpool City Region’s innovation powerhouse credentials.

The city region is aiming to invest 5% of its economy on Research and Development (R&D) by 2030 – nearly double the government’s UK target.

Achieving this would add an estimated £41.7bn to the city region’s economy and create 44,000 jobs.

Launched at an event in Parliament today, a new Innovation Prospectus details how the city region’s world-leading expertise in infection control, materials chemistry and artificial intelligence would be a launchpad for future discoveries and investment.

With net-zero projects such as Mersey Tidal Power and hydrogen energy factored in, the city region has more than £12bn of innovation projects primed for investment.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

“For as long as we have existed, people and businesses from the Liverpool City Region have been inspiring and changing the world. It’s fair to say that innovation is in our DNA.

“But I don’t want us just to dine out on our past. I am determined to make our region the country’s innovation engine and to make that happen, we will be investing 5% of our GVA in research and development over the next few years – nearly double the government’s national targets.

“I want to take advantage of our strengths – and potential – and turn them into profitable businesses, creating better, greener jobs and bringing greater prosperity to local people.”

Leaders point to the city region’s recent innovation record as evidence it can deliver regional and national ambitions, but it needs partnership and sustained, large-scale investment from government and private sources.

In the five years before the pandemic, the city region attracted £2bn of innovation investment and currently has a further £1bn of projects underway. The UK’s first regional Innovation Board, a series of ground-breaking support schemes, and unique partnerships between industry and researchers have enabled innovation to thrive.

Dr Jon Hague, Liverpool City Region Innovation Board Chair and Vice President Science and Technology, Unilever Homecare, said:

“As Chair of the Innovation Board it is a privilege to be constantly reminded of the brilliance and talent this city region has to offer.

“With its exciting mix of distinctive world-leading assets and capabilities, public and private partnership and forward-thinking leadership, the Liverpool City Region is fertile territory for people wanting to turn big inventions and ideas into flourishing businesses.

“We know Liverpool City Region can play a huge part in helping the UK achieve its innovation ambitions. That’s because we’re already doing it.

“With sustained, large-scale investment we can deliver even more world-leading innovation that will fuel UK PLC’s bottom line – as well as fuelling our industry with green, sustainable energy and changing the world for the better.

“It’s no accident that Unilever continues to invest and thrive in the Liverpool City Region.”

For the government to achieve its UK ambition of investing 2.4% of GDP in R&D by 2027, some regions will need to over-perform.

With a £3bn pipeline of innovation projects, the Liverpool City Region is perfectly placed to help the UK government achieve its goal. The level of investment being sought increases to more than £12bn with the addition of HyNet and the Mersey Tidal Power project that, through generating clean energy, would help the city region hit its net zero goals while providing the UK with greater energy security.

From creating robot chemists to transforming patient care at the innovation ‘bat-cave’ under Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, the city region boasts a long list of eye-catching innovation projects that are already changing lives and helping tackle the climate emergency.

These include:

  • iiCON: a flagship infection control consortium led by the world-leading Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine that hit its UKRI 5-year investment target in the first 12 months
  • Materials Innovation Factory: the product of a unique partnership between the University of Liverpool and Unilever, the MIF is pushing boundaries in AI and robot-assisted discovery and design of materials.
  • Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation (HNCDI): based at the Sci-Tech Daresbury campus near Runcorn, the collaboration between the Science and Technology Facilities Council and IBM is using AI and quantum computing to discover and develop solutions to problems raised by UK industry.
  • Glass Futures: a globally unique industry/research partnership based in St Helens, the home of glass, making massive strides in decarbonising glass production.
  • HyNet: one of two hydrogen production and carbon capture clusters chosen by the government for further development. As part of the scheme, hydrogen has recently been trialled to power industrial processes in two world fuel-switching firsts – at Pilkington’s and Unilever in the Liverpool City Region

As well as these success stories, the Innovation Prospectus also highlights projects in development and future investment opportunities.

In addition, the new Freeport offers further large-scale investment opportunities in the city region.

Liverpool City Region is also the first and only UK location to produce a dedicated Innovation Skills training plan.


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