315째 THE RDA MAGAZINE OCT 2003 ISSUE 01
Energising business Can Northwest Science provide the spark? Capital choice More equity finance for growing companies Investment hotspot Big-ticket projects boost performance Raising productivity Why LSC and SBS togetherness makes sense Community woodlands Land regeneration for the 21st Century
New Chief Executive interviewed
6 8 9
The science of wealth creation Accommodating the knowledge economy Bringing up baby business
10 Europe unlocks more business finance 11 Forecasting panel debut 12 Forcing the pace on investment
The Regional Economic Strategy (RES) was produced following much consultation in Spring 2003. The effort put in by so many people to produce this Strategy will count for nothing unless we work together to deliver the actions to support it. It has been said many times, but is worth repeating, that the Regional Economic Strategy belongs to everyone in the Northwest. Our role at the NWDA was to lead its production. Therefore, this magazine will celebrate the achievements of everyone in the region working in partnership to achieve our shared vision.
16 14 Piloting a skills revolution 15 Computer competence campaign 15 Careers information service 16 New university takes shape
24 18 West Cumbria revival launched 19 More aid for food producers 20 Born again landscapes 22 Liverpool capitalises on culture
24 Destination England’s Northwest 26 Transport interchange eases congestion 27 Investing in emerging markets
The region’s strategy has five components: Regeneration, Business Development, Skills and Employment, Infrastructure and Image. 315° will cover all these areas and will show the imaginative solutions being implemented. This first issue of 315° contains articles demonstrating our support for science and higher education, new business formation, the food and tourism industries, skills development, the removal of dereliction, and the creation of new venture capital funds, to name but a few.
28 Whitehall despatches 29 Event highlights 30 Serving the community
All the contact details you need for our area offices
We must avoid the temptation to be self congratulatory and we must ensure that we listen to all voices in the region. Recently, the Department of Trade and Industry, our sponsor department, commissioned MORI to measure stakeholders’ perceptions of RDAs. This was a national survey and demonstrated that RDAs throughout England are recognised as making an impact on their regional economies. I am pleased to say that the NWDA came out particularly well in this survey. I do hope that you will find time to read 315° and that, if your appetite is whetted, you will use the links indicated to find out more about the topics covered. We are particularly keen to have your feedback and I hope also that you will let us know your views of how we are communicating with you.
Bryan Gray September 2003
Trevor Bates email@example.com
Emma Degg 01925 400 100 firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to 315°, our new quarterly magazine which will report, as widely as possible, progress against the Regional Economic Strategy. In case you have not guessed already, the title refers to this region’s compass bearing.
The Third Degree
Steven Broomhead is a person of influence. As the new Chief Executive of the Northwest Development Agency he’s responsible for a £400 million budget and over 400 staff with a remit to recharge the region’s economic batteries. Business Insider magazine ranked him in the top 20 of the region’s 100 most powerful executives. Is the Agency happy with its performance? The latest MORI poll suggests we are the best performing of the nine Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). That remains a challenge for me in future years. Complacency is not on the agenda. The Agency has something really positive to build on and we must pay tribute to the work of my predecessor, Mike Shields. He has certainly put the Agency on the national map and established firm foundations for the future. Business critics still snipe at the performance and merits of RDAs. Are they justified? No. The MORI poll showed that the Northwest business community is increasingly comfortable with our leadership role. That’s a position we did not have four years ago and one that has been carefully nurtured. Business has to be convinced we add value and from time to time we can expect criticism. It keeps us on our toes. Every constructive complaint is an opportunity for reflection and improvement. Your business partners complain of strategy, networking and stakeholder meeting fatigue. What can be done to reduce the burden? Yes, there are far too many partnerships and overlapping activities. Take business support where there are too many organisations providing too many products of variable quality and standard. Rationalisation won’t be easy because people are institutionally proud. There’ll be controversy when you try to close things down but it’s one of the things we have to deal with – we are probably the only show in the region that can do this. We must then do so in a constructive manner. Is the Agency being too selective in looking after the needs of high-growth sectors at the expense of every-day businesses? No, that’s not the case. If you look at our contractual work, via the new Alliance for Skills and Productivity, with the Small Business Service and the Business Links and the LSC in support of the SME sector, I think we have achieved a fair balance.
Has the Agency been given enough funding to achieve its economic objectives? Government has been very positive about giving RDAs more influence and resources. We have a budget of £400 million. That levers in four times as much from our partners but we probably influence spending of ten times that amount. One of the areas we want to look at is NHS funding and the economic implications of that. The NHS spends over £1.2 million on procurement of food for hospitals. Is that done with a regional agenda in mind? Do they take advantage of local supply chains?
Are you satisfied there is an equitable distribution of the Agency’s effort and resources across the region? There’s still a perception – and perceptions matter – that we are far too Mersey Belt orientated. Over the coming months we will be making extra effort to convince people right across the region from Silloth to Alsager that we have their interests at heart. It matters that we are seen to treat all parts equally – and deliver our regional agenda on an equitable basis. Tourism, planning, transport, housing and energy have been added to the Agency’s remit since April 1. Isn’t there a danger of operational overload? No. We are managing and embedding these new agendas very well. We have launched a Tourism Strategy and established an Energy Council to take an overall regional view on energy. This Autumn we will also see publication of the North of England Transportation Study. There’s a danger we could suffer priority overload but that’s an issue I am watching carefully. We will build the capacity of the organisation to deal with this. Transport is a key issue for the region but without any real funding muscle in this area what can the Agency possibly achieve? We don’t have the resources or the powers to deal with the transportation agenda but it’s something we will argue for. Working with other RDAs we could sort out issues between the Strategic Rail Authority, the rail operators, the rail regulator, the Highways Agency and planning authorities. We need bold and radical transport solutions and the development agencies are the only show in town that can produce them in an integrated way. It’s an issue I intend to prioritise. What are the biggest challenges facing the Agency over the next three years? Making a real and significant impact – that’s what we will be judged on. Contributing to the discussion about regionalism. Do we want improved regional governance or do we want regional government? The two are different but at this stage the Agency does not have an official view. We are interested in the capacity of local authorities to deliver good quality services and fully engage with them to assist. You have a career background in education and local government. What lessons can you apply from that experience to running the Agency? Lead from the front, be an active listener, ensure the organisation acts corporately, not in silos, get everyone pulling together against an agreed agenda. And make sure you deliver what you promised. Action – not bull****! You’ve been quoted as saying you’re a ‘brutal manager of time’. Can you explain? It’s a question of efficiency. I manage my own time brutally – not people. Just recently I told Agency staff not to send me reports longer than two sides of A4. Brevity is strength. We have to sharpen up on the decision-making process. Reading volumes of paper isn’t the way. It’s an old bureaucratic trick – produce a volume but don’t draw the attention of the decision maker to the one key sentence. What message do you have about the Agency’s future direction? Simply this. We value partnership, we will continue to operate in a business-like way and the emphasis will be on delivery and impact, and the delivery of our Regional Economic Strategy.
The science of wealth creation
NWDA Investment in Science
The importance of science to regional competitiveness has been underlined by the Northwest Development Agency’s decision to commit more of its resources to a growing number of flagship research and development projects, many linked to the region’s universities.
Daresbury Science Park, Cheshire (£45 million) NWDA funding £25.7 million Work started on site May 2003 First buildings due for completion July/August 2004
Over the next three years the Agency will invest £130 million in establishing world-class facilities in a broad range of disciplines from biotechnology to microsystems with the aim of speeding up the transfer of leading edge research into the marketplace. Projects like the £30 million National Biomanufacturing Centre at Speke on Merseyside provide a crucial bridge between academic innovation and high-value commercial production. Others such as the Infolab 21 computer and communications hub at Lancaster University are designed to encourage ICT start-ups. Twelve of the 16 sectors singled out for economic development by the Agency have clear links with science. Sectors like aerospace, chemicals, nuclear energy and the digital industries have a profound influence on the health of the region’s £87 billion economy. NWDA Chairman Bryan Gray highlighted the strategic role that science can play in wealth creation and regional competitiveness during a fact-finding visit to the Northwest by the all-party House of Lords Science and Technology Committee. Over the last 10 years GDP per head in the North of England had fallen to 85 per cent of the UK average while in Scotland it had increased to 96.5 per cent. The differential was due, he said, to the growth of knowledge-based manufacturing. “Investment in research and development makes a significant difference to regional economies.” The NWDA has won Government praise for the imaginative way it is using science as an economic development tool. It has played a lead role in creating a powerful Northwest Science Council, chaired by Sir Tom McKillop, Chief Executive of AstraZeneca, and in developing a trailblazing Northwest Science Strategy. The science community has realigned itself behind the region’s economic priorities and the Agency has responded with funding support for a number of big-ticket projects as well as a number of small ones.
It is providing £35 million to facilitate the merger of the University of Manchester and UMIST, £25.7 million to develop a Science Park alongside Daresbury Laboratory, £10.8 million towards the £18 million Manchester Biotechnology Incubator, £10 million for Infolab 21 and £10 million on technology-based incubators. John Burrows, NWDA’s retiring Director of Business Development, needs little convincing about the impact that science can have on wealth creation and competitiveness. “You have only to look at the high added value that AstraZeneca brings to the economy of South-East Cheshire.” He believes the new National Microsystems Packaging Centre, to be located at the former Marconi site in Edge Lane, Liverpool (now branded as Liverpool Digital), will have a similar multiplier effect on the Merseyside economy. The NWDA plans to invest £12.5 million in the £30 million first phase of a project that will establish Liverpool as a centre of expertise in connecting micro devices into a new generation of commercial and industrial products. Half of the 7,435 sq m (80,000 sq ft) of available space in the Jabil Building will be used for R&D, the other half for incubating new companies. Project approval is expected early next year. An operator will be appointed to run the centre and two or three leading academics will be recruited to head the R&D effort. A team of 40 researchers and technicians will assist them. Already there is strong interest in the project from a number of multi-national companies. The facility will have links to Liverpool and Lancaster universities and to researchers at Daresbury Laboratory. “By putting this centre in Liverpool,” says Burrows, “we are creating a new heart for a knowledge-based manufacturing economy and jobs of real value. That’s all due to science.” For further information: www.northwestscience.co.uk
Infolab 21, Lancaster University (total cost £15 million) NWDA funding £10 million Work started on site May 2003 First building due for completion September 2004
New University of Manchester (£285 million) NWDA funding £35 million New charter granted in October 2004 First student intake September 2005
Manchester Biotechnology Incubator (£18 million) NWDA funding £10.8 million Construction planned Nov/Dec 2003 Ready for operation by the end of 2005
Liverpool Digital NWDA funding £40 million Work due to start Oct 2003 First occupants expected end of 2003
Accommodating the knowledge economy The region’s rapid shift towards an economy based around intellectual know-how has been highlighted by more major deals to provide the property infrastructure required by tomorrow’s science and technology-led companies. Two developments are geared to the property requirements of companies spinning out from Northwest universities and world-class research establishments. A third deal unlocks a futuristic property option for knowledge companies in East Lancashire. In each case the Northwest Development Agency has been a major funding catalyst. At Daresbury Laboratory, Cheshire, the NWDA plans to invest £25.7 million over five years on the 4.5 hectare Daresbury Science Park to capitalise on the cutting-edge accelerator research being undertaken at the facility. Construction work started in April on an incubator/business centre and an adjoining high tech office block to accommodate start-ups, more mature science-based companies and research groups. A visitor centre will be provided to showcase the strengths of Northwest science. The Agency is acting as direct developer to trigger early provision of 5,820 sq m (62,648 sq ft) of floorspace with tenants being sought for occupation in March 2004. The NWDA will service and open access to an additional 3.16 hectares so plots can be sold to major companies or research organisations for HQ buildings. This will provide an additional 16,970 sq m (182,670 sq ft) of space. Site development is being undertaken in partnership with Daresbury Laboratory whose scientists are currently engaged in an £11 million exploratory project to develop a Fourth Generation Light Source (4GLS). The project is expected to open up major commercial exploitation opportunities for the region. The Agency is also providing funding of nearly £5 million for the new Liverpool Science Park, £900,000 of which was used to support the rigorous tendering process that resulted in Bidwell Science Innovations being appointed as the project operator for the next three years. Bidwell is the company that has managed Cambridge Science Park – one of the world’s most successful – since its inception in 1970. Dr Sarah Tasker, the new Chief Executive of the Liverpool Science Park, says the park “builds on Liverpool’s long history of scientific innovation and will support its current research excellence.”
The park is a split-site collaborative venture between Liverpool John Moores University (JMU), the University of Liverpool and the City Council. It will focus on workspace for start-ups and companies specialising in the life sciences, new media, bioinformatics and IT fields. On the first site at the foot of the ceremonial steps of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral developers will build a £5.7 million building of ‘high architectural value’, providing 4,000 sq m (44,000 sq ft) of incubation and grow-on space. It will also act as a headquarters for science park staff. The NWDA’s contribution is £4 million. The second site will form an extension to the existing Wavertree Technology Park at Edge Lane. Together the two locations should provide 32,500 sq m (350,000 sq ft) of high-tech business space. The first occupants are expected to be in place by Summer 2004. JMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Brown, who chairs the science park company, praised the “exemplary” support of the NWDA and the Government Office for the North West for “recognising the strategic nature of this project from the beginning and being committed to seeing it through in its entirety. This represents a real meeting of minds.” In another deal aimed at unlocking enterprise the NWDA is giving £985,000 towards the £2.8 million cost of a new speculative business centre at the aptly-named Futures Park, Bacup. Due for completion in April 2004, it will provide managed space for 40 fast-growing, knowledge-based companies. Operated by Kingfisher Business Centres, a locally-based managed office specialist, and owned by Rossendale Borough Council, the centre will offer the local community training facilities and broadband connectivity. The building combines a striking modern design with traditional materials.
Bringing up baby business Two new incubators have joined the growing network of sector-specific regional incubators set up with funding support from the NWDA and managed by Manchester-based business incubation specialists Campus Ventures.
The newest at Westlakes in Cumbria is designed to support business start-ups in a range of technology-rich sectors. Built with a £319,000 NWDA grant, it aims to add to the growing diversity of the existing knowledge-based industries on Copeland’s Westlakes Science Park, near Whitehaven. Catherine Potter, Campus Ventures’ Managing Director, believes there are major spin-off opportunities in the nuclear decommissioning industry growing up around the area’s most significant employer, BNFL. “We are still aiming for diversity, but you must address whatever markets tend to be there.” Another new business nursery is the i-zone in Bolton, which is managed by a joint venture company set up by Bolton Institute and Campus Ventures. The i-zone is aimed specifically at start-ups in the high tech textiles sector, a field where the Institute has built world-renowned research expertise. In its early stages, the i-zone has become home to two
companies developing software. One of these is RSVP Dialogue, whose Chief Executive David Burns was a former board member of Campus Ventures’ most famous incubated company to date, Knowledge Management Systems. RSVP Dialogue is working on a new project aimed at developing artificial intelligence-based software for call centres that transforms the ‘press one for service’ style of call answering to become more user-friendly. The fledgling company has been notably successful at attracting funding, raising £600,000 from a mix of the Rising Stars Growth Fund, DTI Smart grants, private equity and debt funding. Burns says he chose the i-zone mainly for its convenient geographical location as well as access to skilled graduates of Bolton’s psychology department. “Somebody who has an idea in textiles or any other area needs help understanding that they’ve got an opportunity, or help in interpreting technology into a business opportunity.”
“Lots of people that come from academia or from a technological field tend to be very focused on their technology and not very focused on why somebody would buy it. That is a gap.” Potter says Campus Ventures recognises the need to support those who might not have even considered starting up a business based on research. Recently it started working with Salford University to develop workshops that include experts from industry and ‘ideas people’ who will collaborate with researchers to develop business projects. For further information: www.campus-ventures.co.uk
Catherine Potter Campus Ventures’ Managing Director
Excellence in building design has earned the Northwest nine awards in the 2003 Royal Institute of British Architecture Awards, more than any other UK region. Manchester secured more awards than any city outside London. Local architects designed six of the winning schemes... Eden District Council is to receive an NWDA grant of £975,000 to further expand the Eden Business Park. Once developed, the project will provide 10 hectares of land for industrial and business use within 1 km of the M6 corridor in Cumbria... NWDA is investing £1 million in a dual carriageway scheme on the A483 Wrexham Road to improve access to the Chester Business Park where the MBNA Europe Bank is engaged in a large scale expansion that will create over 2,000 jobs... Blackburn’s Waterloo Pavilions are to be refurbished with a £970,000 NWDA grant and £300,000 from Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and the Townscape Heritage Initiative. The money will be used to convert three derelict Grade II listed Georgian buildings into retail and leisure space... Two warehouses at the former Iron Works site in Barrow will be converted into high quality office space for new and expanding businesses. Funded by the NWDA, the £1.89 million extension to the Furness Business Park will create up to 130 jobs...
Europe unlocks more business finance Regional entrepreneurs and fast growing small companies wanting growth capital now have access to a flexible new source of equity finance through the launch of the European-backed £17.5 million North West Business Investment Scheme (NWBIS).
Fund set to double The Rising Stars Growth Fund is seeking to raise additional investment capital that will more than double the fund to £19 million. Managed by Preston-based Enterprise Ventures the fund has so far invested £1.6 million in 10 early stage businesses ranging from biotechnology to software. “We are only able to get further people to invest because we have demonstrated the fund works,” says Investment Director Colin Willis. The fund targets technology-driven companies or projects with very high growth prospects in both Europe and the US. One of these, Burnley-based NutrEn Technology, has raised £450,000 through Rising Stars and a private investor to develop the world’s first hand-held calorie meter for weight watchers or people on fitness programmes. Campus Ventures, the Manchester University incubator, and seed corn investor Worknorth II, provided early stage support. Founded four years ago by engineer Austen Bradley, the company has recently relocated to larger premises at Shuttleworth Mead Business Park and has recruited David Farrar, previously European Managing Director of Slimfast, to accelerate NutrEn’s growth. Traditionally products of this kind have been used only in a clinical environment requiring a trained operator. “The key to NutrEn’s success,” explains Sales Director Lawrence Glynn, “is that you can blow into the unit and your own individual calorie intake is displayed. A personal set of calorie scales.”
Regarded as a coup for the region, the scheme applies a higher risk investment criteria than that adopted by traditional venture capital funds. It was born out of an innovative bid by the Northwest Development Agency for a share of ERDF money allocated to the region’s Objective 2 and Transitional areas. The closing date for investments is December 2006. Managed by Yorkshire Fund Managers on behalf of the Agency, the NWBIS limits its investment to 25 per cent of any transaction up to a project ceiling of £500,000, but has a specific remit to assist companies to find the balance from other sources. It will also counsel unsuccessful applicants on how to improve their investment readiness. The scheme operates across Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and some parts of Cheshire, and will invest in a broad range of sectors from traditional to high-tech and from early-stage to development capital for family businesses. Around £4 million has been allocated for seed corn investment. “We have persuaded the Government and the European Commission to agree a novel concept where the Agency is sole investor of ERDF money,” explained Vivienne Upcott-Gill, NWDA’s Head of Business Finance. “It is a managed fund where other investors invest directly in the businesses themselves at the same time as the NWBIS.” NWBIS is the third major fund to be launched in the region with the Agency’s help since April 2002. They are designed to cover a market segment – funding below £1 million – largely neglected by institutional investors. All funds have a 10 year lifecycle with investment planned in the first five years. Biggest of these is the North West Equity Fund, the establishment of which was sponsored by the Agency. Managed by WM Enterprise, the fund includes the Department of Trade and Industry among its investors. So far it has completed 10 deals after a slow start. The Agency was also the catalyst in setting up the £9.5 million Rising Stars Growth Fund, which supports high-growth technology companies. This Autumn the NWDA will expand the region’s portfolio of niche funds by launching the £4.5 million North West Seed Fund, a proof of concept vehicle structured on the same lines as the NWBIS. Upcott-Gill stresses the importance of the NWDA’s interventionist role. “If we had not invested our £4.5 million in the Rising Stars Fund it would never have got off the ground. We had to be proactive.” The Agency also prepares and steers companies towards other sources of finance through its TEChINVEST Equity Advisory Service. For further information: www.nwda.co.uk/finance
Forecasting panel debut Is economic forecasting an accurate science or simply guesswork? Forecasting guru David Coates, who chairs the panel responsible for the first independent assessment of economic activity in the Northwest, isn’t in any doubt.
David Coates chairs a distinguished panel
“It isn’t science. It’s an art informed by science but in the end judgement is a very important part of all forecasting,” argues Coates who was the DTI’s Chief Economic Adviser before his retirement, experience he is now applying to help the region’s public and private sectors plan the future. The 13-strong Northwest Economic Forecasting Panel predicts mixed fortunes for the region over the next three years. Growth will slow quite sharply in 2003 (down from 1.8 per cent to 1.5 per cent), picking up in 2004 and again in 2005. The panel takes a more cautious view of the economy than the Treasury. Consumers will spend less, unemployment will rise by 32,000 over the next two years and earnings will grow by 2.5 per cent, this compared to 3.8 per cent in the UK as a whole. There is better news in the construction sector with housing investment increasing by 19.4 per cent in 2003 and 29.2 per cent next year. The forecasters suggest that the bulk of investment growth in the region will come from the public sector.
The panel made its assessment in Spring 2003 without the benefit of official data for 1999 and 2001. This has since been published by the Office of National Statistics and will be used by Coates and his team in drawing up their second forecast, to be published in November. According to these new figures the region has been doing better than previously thought. In the period 1990-2001 the economy grew an average one per cent more slowly than the UK as a whole but from 1998-2001 that gap narrowed. They also show that the Northwest has edged ahead of Yorkshire and the South West. Figures drawn from a new and more accurate system suggest the economy is now valued at £87.6 billion with a GVA per head of 89.9 per cent of the UK average, which has improved the region’s ranking from 9th to 7th out of the 12 UK regions. Although the panel enjoys the support of the Regional Intelligence Unit, an observatory for the region based within the Northwest Development Agency, the panel is independent.
“This gives us the freedom to say uncomfortable things if we need to,” observes Coates. It will publish two short term forecasts a year, an annual State of the Region study – the first one published in September embraces the new ONS information – and an annual assessment of the region’s long term prospects. A first for the Northwest, the panel is composed of influential leaders and professionals from business, academia, consulting and the public sector. Coates insists the research isn’t something that’s done in an ivory tower and then left on a shelf. “We are trying to make it as useful and as relevant as possible to those businesses and public bodies that are helping the region perform better. It’s all very hands-on stuff...” For further information: www.nwriu.co.uk
Forcing the pace on investment
An influx of major high quality manufacturing projects into the region has reaffirmed the Northwest’s growing reputation as an industrial investment ‘hotspot’.
International companies have pledged to spend nearly £700 million on new state-of-the-art production facilities, safeguarding or creating thousands of jobs. The result will be new medical treatments, new car models, better support for the UK drinks industry and greener production facilities. Some of the projects were secured through the direct funding, high-level lobbying and business support activities of the Northwest Development Agency whose Business Development team contributed to the Northwest being the top region in the country for job creation last year. Two of the latest projects, a modernisation programme involving Ineos Chlor’s massive chlorine production facility at Runcorn, and a new production and packaging plant for Irish company Quinn Glass at Ince, Cheshire, will account for investment worth £500 million and safeguard or create over 10,000 UK jobs, many of them in the region. Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt broke the news in July that the Government would be giving Ineos Chlor £50 million of Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) to upgrade its Runcorn complex, which produces 80 per cent of the UK’s supply of chlorine, a chemical that cannot be imported in bulk. The £389 million investment programme ends a period of uncertainty over the future of 2,000 jobs at the plant. A further 8,000 UK jobs in associated businesses that are dependent on the site – 3,500 of them in the Northwest – will also be safeguarded. There is also the added bonus of the project contributing to the NWDA’s cleaner production aspirations. New technology will reduce energy consumption by 15 per cent and a more efficient steam generating plant will drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions. Agency and DTI financial support of £5.5 million was an influential factor in Quinn Glass agreeing a September start date on the construction of a new state-of-the art production plant on a 85 hectare site at Ince.
The £120 million facility will create 300 jobs by 2007. It will be one of only a handful of plants worldwide that can manufacture and fill bottles on the same site, and will be in a position to provide a very competitive glass packaging and distribution service for the UK drinks industry. “We looked at sites around Europe and selected the Northwest as the best location due to the fantastic skills base and excellent transport links,” said Quinn Glass Director Donal O’Donnell. The company will work alongside the NWDA and the Cheshire and Warrington Learning and Skills Council to develop a comprehensive training package. This latest investment windfall builds on a solid performance in 2002-03 when the NWDA recorded an inflow of 34 projects worth £163 million. With the exception of US credit bank MBNA’s £65 million expansion at Chester Business Park, and a new Unisys outsourcing operation in Liverpool that will create 750 new jobs, the general trend was towards higher value, higher quality jobs in smaller projects. MBNA’s new-build project, secured without any RSA grant, will provide the bank with a new centre for handling its European credit card operations. Many of the 2,000 new jobs will require high skills in IT, financial services and languages, providing graduates with more choices to remain in the region. The bank looked at alternative sites in Ireland but settled on enlarging its Chester operation after winning planning permission – even though the site was technically in the green belt – and an offer from the local authorities, NWDA, and the Highways Agency to improve the efficiency of the nearby road network. John Burrows, NWDA’s retiring Director of Business Development, described it as a good example of “real partnership” between different agencies. “It was a project we didn’t want to lose for the sake of a little flexibility on planning and a minor investment in road improvements.”
West Cumbria is to be the headquarters of the new Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the first body of its kind in Europe. It will oversee the Government’s £48 billion programme to clean up the UK’s civil nuclear legacy. The Authority will employ about 220 people, mainly high level contract management specialists, of whom half will be based in West Cumbria... Envirolink is to run an NWDA funded £2 million project to develop new technologies for recycling waste products from the paper, food and chemicals industries leading to new business opportunities within the Environmental Technologies & Services (ETS) sector... Wind farm developers are being asked to tender for new offshore sites in the shallow waters of the Northwest. The region is one of three strategic areas of the UK being targeted by the Government in the second round of leasing. The next generation of wind farms is expected to provide enough energy generation to power 15 per cent of all UK households...
Ineos Chlor’s Runcorn plant lights up the night sky MBNA plans a £65 million expansion on Chester Business Park
Regional aerospace companies expect significant growth in their order books following a successful visit to the Paris Air Show. Deals announced for Rolls Royce Trent engines and the Airbus 380 should benefit aerospace suppliers across the region.Nineteen local companies attended the showcase event with support from the North West Aerospace Alliance and the NWDA...
Building Bentley cars demands high skills Bentley workers on the hi-tech assembly line
Piloting a skills revolution
Computer competence campaign
For years a variety of national and regional organisations have been highlighting the need for the UK to develop a better-trained workforce in order to compete internationally.
A £1 million advertising campaign has been launched to raise awareness among the region’s job seekers and employers of the value of the internationally recognised European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) qualification. By joining forces in this way the Northwest Development Agency and the ECDL hope to increase the take-up of the qualification – a clear definition of computer skills – in the region by 65 per cent. The campaign will target the working population, people returning to work and young adults preparing for work. It will also be directed at businesses to show that ECDL is an essential workforce qualification that can lead to increased efficiency. Rob Green, Director of North West NODE, the project managers, says many people have good IT skills although they are often self taught and do not have a formal qualification to show for it. “ECDL is proof to themselves and employers of their computer competence. Those without ICT skills will also find real benefits in having ECDL when competing in an increasingly tough jobs marketplace.”
The Government has now taken action by publishing a Skills Strategy White Paper, which has provided a launch-pad for the NWDA to pilot a new coherent approach to delivering training and business support. The pilot has been re-branded the Alliance for Skills and Productivity (ASP), and will integrate the strengths of the five regional Business Links with those of the region’s five Learning and Skills Councils. But how will this latest initiative differ from those that have gone before? According to Project Director Paul Holme: “We are creating a new organisation to deal with skills at a regional level. A key factor will be a stronger interface with businesses, ensuring that we understand what they actually require, because if we improve skills, then all the evidence suggests that an improvement in productivity will follow.” Holme, along with NWDA Chief Executive Steven Broomhead, has been instrumental in turning the White Paper into a new Northwest strategy. “We need to recognise that the majority of the workforce in 20 years time are already in employment. So how can we do more to persuade employers to invest in their company skills?” adds Holme, who has been seconded from
his position as Executive Director of the Merseyside LSC. Among measures to help businesses will be an expansion of the Sector Skills Councils, in order to address specific skills gaps. There will also be a much greater focus on SMEs and delivering training in a way that suits them, and a new Employer’s Guide to Good Training. ASP is also operating what has been dubbed a ‘no wrong door approach’, so that employers know exactly who to turn to for the skills advice they need. There are also changes to the way that skills will be delivered to individuals. These include free learning for every adult to achieve at least 5 GCSEs or equivalent, and in areas where there are specific skills shortages, this will encompass A-levels or higher vocational awards. A new weekly £30 grant for adult learners is also to be introduced, while the existing age limit of 25 on Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) will be lifted. In all, some 1.5 million people across the Northwest will be able to benefit from the changes, and one company that has already taken advantage is Bentley Motors in Crewe. Last year the car manufacturer pre-empted the decision to open
up Modern Apprenticeships, and eight adults are now in their second year of an apprenticeship, working towards an NVQ level 3 in Performing Engineering Operations. The programme is a joint union/management initiative, partly funded by Nantwich-based training provider Axis. Margaret Cheshire, Bentley’s Academy Manager, explains: “We already carry out a lot of young people’s apprenticeships so it was a natural progression to be able to offer this to some of our other workers.” Rather than simply offering standard MAs, Bentley has tailored them for adults, while also including units that are most appropriate to the needs of the company. “We need to make sure that we have the skills for the future,” continues Cheshire. “So this is about meeting business requirements as well as helping individuals to develop.” “Instead of being able to do just one job, they now have the skills to do a range of tasks at a higher level, and that’s complementary to the investment we have put in.” And John Stead from Axis adds “It allows people who have missed out on the opportunity to gain an apprenticeship qualification earlier in life to gain a valid qualification now.”
Education providers have joined forces with commerce and the Government in an innovative £20 million partnership to ease vital shortages in the region’s ICT and creative industries. The Manchester New Technology Institute (NTI), which is due to open on the city’s new Central Park development in 2004, offers a new approach to ICT training with a range of courses from NVQ level 3 to foundation degrees...
A strong advertising campaign promotes the benefits of ECDL Moving up the jobs ladder with the Careers Northwest website
For further information: www.acompletecv.co.uk
United Utilities and Scottish Power have joined the NWDA in a £1.9 million employer-led ‘Grow Your Own Workforce’ initiative to encourage more young people to take up careers in electrical engineering. The partnership will work with schools, colleges and universities to develop new learning materials and curriculum paths into the industry...
Careers information service
A £700,000 training programme is being put together by the Cheshire and Warrington Learning and Skills Council, the NWDA and other partners to help Quinn Glass build a world-class workforce for its new £120 million plant at Ince in Ellesmere Port. It will cover a range of training and education opportunities from life long learning courses to Modern Apprenticeship schemes...
Agency funding of £700,000 has also been used to launch a dynamic careers information and advice service directed at both young people and adults. Developed with other partners, the three-year project is managed by the NWDA under the ‘Careers Northwest’ brand. The service is driven by up-to-date labour market information including wage levels and major employment opportunities. It is targeted at individuals and advisers through a comprehensive web site, CD Rom, and sector-based fact sheets. For further information: www.careersnorthwest.com
NWDA funding of £250,000 will kick-start a development programme at the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, Widnes, that aims to boost science education and enhance the links with regional industry. New facilities will include a multi-media theatre and a hands-on ‘discovery laboratory’...
The Victoria University of Manchester Nobel Prize winner Ernest Rutherford, one of its most famous professors Professor Alan Gilbert President and Vice-Chancellor Designate
New university takes shape Two of Manchester’s oldest higher education institutions have agreed to form a new ‘super’ university in 2004 capable of competing with Oxford and Cambridge. With 30,000 students and over 8,000 academics it will be the UK’s largest university.
The merger of ‘The Victoria University of Manchester’ and ‘The University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology’ is expected to have a profound impact on the regional economy. Growth projections suggest the combined research and contract income over the next 10 years should rise by £300 million to £2 billion opening new areas of scientific discovery, increasing the flow of new ideas into the marketplace and generating more spin-out companies. Creation of a new ‘University of Manchester’ – its official name – took a major step forward in July when the two governing bodies agreed to dissolve their institutions and seek Privy Council approval to merge their assets and identities. Teaching programmes are now being harmonised to accommodate the first student intake in Autumn 2005. The merger process, codenamed ‘Project Unity’, will require additional investment of £285 million, much of it directed at relocating and co-locating departments and investing in new plant, equipment and IT systems. The Northwest Development Agency has agreed to contribute £35 million to facilitate the reorganisation. Decisions on where to spend the money will be made when the Terry Farrell Partnership has completed a major master-planning exercise for the 170 hectare estate in December. Professor Paul Layzell, a leading UMIST software scientist and former Pro-Vice-Chancellor for finance and estate, is managing the merger process, helped by over 80 separate working groups comprising 450 staff, students, alumni and external stakeholders. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to look at every aspect of our business from a clean sheet. Much of what we do is good but there are areas where we can do better and where we can do things differently. We are not simply trying to make two plus two equal four. There must be added value.” He’s fortunate in having a close affection for both institutions. He graduated in economics from Manchester University and is a leading member of UMIST’s academic staff. “My heart has been in both institutions at different times of my life.” The rationale behind the merger is to create a 21st Century university that can compete globally. “We aspire to be Oxford and Cambridge in performance but not in culture,” says Prof. Layzell. “Manchester will have its own culture, style and way of doing things. We have the opportunity not to make the mistakes others have.” A merger was not on the agenda when the two Vice-Chancellors commissioned a review in 2001 on how the two institutions could boost their research performance. It was later realised that the only way to achieve a step change was to create a new single institution. That process has gathered momentum and will culminate in a new charter being granted by the Privy Council in October 2004. Growth projections envisage the university recruiting an extra 2,000 students a year by 2012 and 1,000 more academic staff generating an extra £63 million a year spend in the region. Teaching and research programmes will be structured around four faculties: engineering and physical sciences, medical sciences, life sciences and humanities. Some of the schools within those faculties will have up to 150 academics. Humanities will have 14,000 students – twice the size of UMIST.
“We aspire to be Oxford and Cambridge in performance but not in culture” Professor Paul Layzell UMIST software scientist “One of the driving forces behind the merger is to bring people together from different disciplinary and skill backgrounds to solve common problems,” says Prof. Layzell. “What we want to see emerge is a greater emphasis on thematic needs very much in line with the NWDA’s clustering approach.” This ‘interdisciplinarity’ is expected to result in major advances in new research areas such as nanotechnology, genomics, tissue engineering and healing, and brain and neuro-degenerative disorders. Several major research facilities are expected to spring from the merger including a maths institute and centres of excellence in photonics and nuclear science. Two recent developments have highlighted the growing appeal of the new university’s research and teaching potential. The National Grid has moved its research activities into UMIST and BNFL is supporting a range of activities around corrosion science. “We will see a lot more of those corporate investments, not just in research.” Predicts Prof. Layzell. “Companies will be looking for us to provide a complete ‘one-stop shop’ service from problem solving to career development.”
First President appointed Professor Alan Gilbert, one of Australia’s leading higher education administrators, is to be the first President and Vice-Chancellor of the new single university. He believes the merger “has the potential substantially to change the higher education landscape of England.” Currently Vice-Chancellor of The University of Melbourne, Australia’s premier research-intensive university, Prof. Gilbert, 58, will take up his duties in February 2004. He has a particularly successful track record of providing strong leadership to universities facing merger. Norman Askew, 60, who is stepping down this year as Chief Executive of BNFL, has been appointed Chairman-Designate of the combined universities’ Board of Governors. He has a strong reputation in both industry and the City for managing change. “Our aim is to create a world-class institution Manchester can be proud of,” he says.
West Cumbria revival launched
More aid for food producers
Bob Pointing’s first ever visit to Barrow was when he judged the best kept railway station competition on behalf of his then employers, the Civic Trust. He gave it good marks but never expected to be repaid with the job of reviving the town’s economy.
A new £2.4 million package of aid has been launched by the NWDA to help the region’s myriad of small speciality food producers grow their businesses by developing new added-value products and broadening their customer base.
Since that first trip along the Furness Line, Pointing’s career has taken him on a regeneration odyssey. He was Chief Executive of Wigan City Challenge and the North Liverpool Partnership and was a Priority Manager on Merseyside’s Objective 1 secretariat. Now he is Chief Executive of West Lakes Renaissance (WLR), reporting to a board chaired by online market research entrepreneur and Milnthorpe resident, Michael Hulme. Pointing regards City Challenge, the Michael Heseltine brainchild in which local authorities had to bid against each other, as the best regeneration model. A strictly defined area, support from the local authority, businesses and the local community, plus a fixed timeframe, all helped to concentrate minds. Pointing aims to bring a similarly tight focus to his role in Cumbria, despite being given a huge area to cover. Urban Regeneration Companies (URCs) were originally envisaged as a way of securing new investment in inner cities such as central Liverpool or East Manchester. But the West Lakes area includes a sparsely populated coastal strip, which divides, rather than unites, the main urban centres. To deal with this, Pointing has split the company into two
dedicated teams, one covering Furness and Barrow and the other covering Whitehaven and Workington. ‘The West’, as Cumbrians call the latter towns, has suffered from the long-term decline of manufacturing, while remoteness has held back the tourist industry. West Lakes is looking at a £30 million project to improve infrastructure and attract tourists to the Pow Beck area south of Whitehaven harbour. The area boasts Haig pit, which mined coal under the sea and is already established as an industrial museum. The URC is also heavily involved in plans for the former Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Broughton Moor near Maryport, where developers are queueing up; and with the Workington docks and its surrounding area. In Barrow, its efforts will be concentrated on 40 hectares of the underused dock system, owned by Associated British Ports. It has huge potential for leisure and housing, as shown when it hosted the British Formula 2 Powerboat Grand Prix in June. “When I look round Barrow I get a feeling of deja vu. It reminds me of when I was showing people around the derelict Albert Dock in Liverpool 20 years ago,” says Pointing, who has bought a house in the idyllic setting of Furness Abbey. “There is a growing credibility
now that something is going to happen and that it’s not just pie in the sky.” Pointing is also encouraged by the level of co-operation between Barrow, Copeland and Allerdale councils, which are collaborating on a housing market renewal partnership bid. West Lakes has drawn up a five-year Barrow masterplan containing £148 million worth of projects supported by the Northwest Development Agency, Barrow Borough Council and Cumbria County Council. If successful the plan could create 1,700 jobs and more than compensate for the 550 cut by BAE Systems at Barrow shipyard and the 400 which are going at Glaxo’s antibiotics factory in Ulverston. West Lakes is helping to deliver a new Entrepreneurs’ Centre and an Enterprise Fund to help firms suffering knock-on effects from the shipyard cuts and has floated ambitious plans for an upmarket health spa resort in the Furness
countryside, a cruise ship terminal on the docks and an expansion of the BAE-owned airfield on Walney Island. The plan’s finances involve up to £99 million channelled through the NWDA and WLR, £32 million of private investment, and £5 million of European money. Barrow Borough Council Leader Terry Waiting, perhaps the area’s most vociferous advocate, says: “I think people should be heartened by this. It is not charity. Barrovians deserve the chance and we must grasp it with both hands.”
British Formula 2 Powerboat Grand Prix June 2003 Powerboat Grand Prix winners presentation
A feast of regional food and beverage products Cheese ‘detective’ Peter Paprill champions local produce
Over the next four years the ‘Tastes of the Northwest’ initiative will provide technical assistance, skills training, marketing advice, and promote access to food fairs for some 2,300 companies, 80 per cent of which are rurally based. The project will create 24 new farmers markets and nearly 60 new jobs. “It’s all about getting regionally produced quality food on the plates of local, national and hopefully international consumers,” says Steve Heaton, the NWDA’s new Head of Rural Affairs. He was previously Regional Director of the National Farmers’ Union. This latest award, one of many flowing from the Agency’s £100 million ‘Rural Renaissance’ programme, raises the level of NWDA support for the region’s specialist food sector to £7 million. Another project seeks to help farmers and food producers in rural Cumbria. Managed by Myerscough College, Lancashire, ‘Tastes of the Northwest’ is a partnership effort involving the NWDA, the Government Office for the North West, DEFRA, the Rural Development Service and the Countryside Agency. It will knit together a support infrastructure for promotional groups like North West Fine Foods. Over the past two decades, according to Heaton, the proportion of income spent on basic food has dropped from 20 to 11 per cent. He wants to get consumers, particularly in affluent households, spending some of the other 89 per cent on ‘leisure’ foods. “People are more discerning about what they eat and will spend more on high quality specialist produce, especially if it’s presented and marketed properly.” There’s another justification for supporting the sector. Reforms to the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy will result in farm payments being based on land rather than livestock numbers. Under the new system farmers will have to be more responsive to the marketplace. Cath Smith, Chief Executive of North West Fine Foods, believes the new initiative will help micro-producers gain access to farmers’ markets and assist medium-sized businesses to export. One of the objectives is to supply local produce into niche markets such as ethnic restaurants. “The Lancashire Plain is ideal for growing some oriental vegetables,” she says. The Northwest’s culinary heritage has given it a diversity of speciality produce unmatched by other regions, insists Peter Paprill, Managing Director of Chester food merchants Pendrill 1651, which supplies 200 restaurants with “the best of the best.” During his travels he has discovered such gems as a Carlisle air-cured ham that’s “better than Parma ham,” a world-class pickle producer and a cider brewed in Cheshire. He believes a culture of hospitality and good food is an important element in the region’s offering to potential investors. For further information: www.nw-fine-foods.co.uk
Born again landscapes Billed as ‘land regeneration for the 21st Century’, the £23 million Newlands community woodlands scheme is set to economically and socially rejuvenate 435 hectares of derelict land across England’s Northwest. Officially launched in July by the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, Newlands is the first project of its kind in the UK and the result of a ground-breaking partnership between the Northwest Development Agency and the Forestry Commission. Over 25 per cent of England’s derelict land is found in the Northwest, and the region’s economic strategy has already highlighted the severe effect this is having on outside investors’ image and perception of the region. Speaking at the launch of the initiative, NWDA Chief Executive Steven Broomhead said: “Newlands brings together two principles: environmental necessity with the strength of economic development.” “It’s about creating useful and beneficial land in some of our most needful areas. Instead of being environmentalist for environmentalism’s sake, Newlands is relevant to the communities in which its activities take place.” The scheme has been developed on the back of the Public Benefit Recording System, a unique method of strategically targeting where initiatives such as Newlands can have the greatest impact. Now it is set to bring about huge physical change, rejuvenating areas blighted by decades of contamination and dereliction. New community woodlands will provide sustainable solutions to damaged land, improving recreational facilities, local amenities, and health across the Northwest. By enhancing the appearance of the main transport corridors into the region, they will also help improve economic performance by encouraging more inward investment. The partnership between the NWDA and the Forestry Commission is being heralded as a perfect example of how two government agencies can work together, eradicating duplication and providing a more coherent, intelligent strategy, where funding and expertise are pooled. The first five-year phase – Newlands One – covers the Mersey Belt area, and will reclaim 435 hectares of brownfield land across 24 sites. Phase two is under development and once
approved, will extend across the region to cover Cumbria, Lancashire, and the rest of Cheshire. As Keith Jones, Chief Conservator at the Forestry Commission says: “This isn’t about planting trees. We know we can do that and we know we can design excellent community woodlands. It’s about choosing the right sites with the right economic, social and environmental potential within them - and then realising that potential.”
Over 25 per cent of England’s derelict land is found in the Northwest As well as sites which line the major transport routes into the region, other sites will have specific social and community outcomes. As part of changes to the Lower Irwell Valley Improvement Area (LIVIA), trees will act as physical barriers to noise and air pollution, while the creation of woodland will offer new amenities for local people to enjoy. Some sites will help to complete parts of a regeneration or environmental jigsaw, linking up other areas to create new green corridors. Others, such as in Northwich, will play a vital role in helping to regenerate the town, improving it’s economic prospects and helping to roll back years of neglect and under use. A cornerstone of Newlands, and where it breaks the mould that has shaped other regeneration programmes, is that communities will be empowered and involved, and become stakeholders in the new woodlands. This, along with the fact that one third of the overall budget will go into managing and maintaining these reborn sites over the next 15 years, means that they won’t simply return to rubbish strewn tips as soon as the last tree is planted. “The public benefit inherent in the design wouldn’t be safe-guarded without that 15 year legacy,” adds Jones. For further information: www.forestry.gov.uk/newlands
John Prescott visits ‘Central Park’, Salford, the largest of the Newlands sites Woodland colours for all seasons
Ian Whittaker has been appointed as the NWDA’s Area Manager for Lancashire, a role previously occupied by Stewart Swift who has become the Area Manager for Cumbria. Ian’s previous post was Strategy Manager for Greater Manchester...
Case study: North West Cheshire Where: Stanlow, Ellesmere Port, adjacent to the M53 motorway, and just a few hundred yards from the Shropshire Union Canal. Size: 144 hectares within the 2,700 hectares covered by the North West Cheshire Woodland Strategy (NWCWS) area is targeted initially to be tackled under Newlands. Partners: Cabot Carbon, Shell, North West Chemicals Initiative, The Mersey Forest, Groundwork Wirral, Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough Council, British Waterways. The history: The Strategy has been drawn up to cover several industrial locations in North Cheshire where dereliction may be blocking new investment decisions due to poor image or perception. The Cabot Carbon site is an excellent example. The company – which produces the carbon black used in the manufacturing of tyres – has two pieces of vacant land that can be reclaimed: a disused car park and the external fringes of 8 hectares of open space. The future: Fast growing tall trees, planted to provide screening from the M53 and M56, would provide wooded settings for new investment and to the canal, which itself has been restored over the past decade. Initial work would involve planting new woodland around the edges of manufacturing operations screening off both plant and redundant land. Newlands ethos: In the past Ellesmere Port has failed to secure an equitable amount of investment compared to neighbouring areas such as Chester, Runcorn and the Wirral, yet the area has huge potential and a ready development land bank. The Cabot Carbon site is a starting point that will hopefully lead to a greening of the whole area in line with the vision of the North West Cheshire Woodland Strategy. On an economic basis, regeneration of the site will improve key transport corridors into the region (the M53 and M56), and will also make the development land more attractive to potential occupiers, investors and their advisors. The local business community will be further consulted in order to gain their input and involvement in the detailed development of sites.
Tourism in the outer areas of Cumbria has been given a boost with the launch of a £200,000 campaign, funded by the NWDA, highlighting the county’s ‘Hidden Treasures’. On a 150-mile county-wide promotional tour BBC presenter Eric Robson, visited Whitehaven Harbour, Furness Abbey, Farfield Mill at Sedbergh, Hutton in the Forest and Carlisle Castle... Cheshire’s newly restored Anderton Boat Lift won the Conservation and Heritage Award in a national competition recognising best practice in waterway improvements. The Partnership Award went to the Millennium Ribble Link Linear Water Park... President of the RHS Sir Richard Carew Pole presented the NWDA with the ‘Award for Merit’ for its central plaza feature at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show, the second year running the Agency has collected the award. The plaza was designed by The Landscape Design Group, Salford City Council...
Liverpool capitalises on culture
Sir Bob Scott leads the celebrations A St Valentine’s Day message of support from Manchester to Liverpool
Novelist Kingsley Amis said that prizes weren’t worth anything - until you won one. There can be no better example of this than Liverpool’s success in qualifying as the European Capital of Culture 2008.
Peter Mearns, the NWDA’s Director of Marketing, described the European Capital of Culture 2008 award as a “fantastic opportunity” for the whole of England’s Northwest, not just Liverpool. “We were proud to support the bid, and are now fully committed to ensuring that 2008 is a year for all of us to remember.”
Sir Bob Scott, who headed the bid as Chief Executive of the Liverpool Culture Company, summed up the impact he expects: “People view you more seriously and take a profound look at doing business in Liverpool. The most tangible indicator is the sense that property and land values are rising. In terms of creating wealth and jobs, that is a very, very important factor.” The Capital of Culture title has given Liverpool a palpable boost, with renewed confidence and a more upbeat atmosphere banishing the old images of decline. This process has been going on for a long time but seems to have found a more concrete expression in this latest cultural accolade. Liverpool spent £2.1 million mounting the title challenge but expects huge economic spin-offs in the years to come. Consultancy firm ERN has estimated that the city can expect a payback of around £2 billion and 14,000 new jobs as a result of the year-long jamboree in 2008 and all that goes with it. Tourism, the obvious beneficiary of a year of cultural events, is expected to generate a large proportion of this new employment. In 2000, Liverpool had 7.5 million visitors but the target for 2008 is at least 9.2 million. Surprisingly, 63 per cent of Northwest residents have never visited the port city. The city is already smartening itself up in preparation for 2008. The Northwest Development Agency and English Partnerships
have pledged £9 million to an environmental improvement programme designed to tackle eyesores, and the NWDA has given a further £1 million to safe-guard ‘buildings at risk’. The City Council – the third backer of Liverpool Vision, the city’s Urban Regeneration Company – is joining them in undertaking what’s perhaps the most concerted effort ever to improve the city’s public realm. Meanwhile, the city is looking for a project that will symbolise its role as Capital of Culture in 2008. One obvious candidate is the so-called Fourth Grace, a new building on the famous waterfront. An international competition to find a partner for the Port of Liverpool, Liver and Cunard Buildings was won by the futuristic but controversial Cloud design by Will Alsop. Liverpool’s eye-catching portfolio of maritime architecture is now under scrutiny as UNESCO consider whether to make the city a World Heritage Site. The decision will be announced in 2004. Another potential flagship project is the plan to create a £40 million World Discovery Centre at the city’s central library. It was recently the largest of five schemes selected by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to do battle for £39 million worth of public funds. A detailed bid for funding under the private finance initiative will now be drawn up for the ambitious project, including a £10 million
plan to digitise the city’s archives covering emigration to the Americas. To have a lasting impact, the Capital of Culture award will have to make Liverpool a better place for the private sector to do business. There are encouraging signs that this is starting to happen. German household appliance group Bosch is setting up a contact centre in the city that will employ 90 people. The NWDA approved a £200,000 grant to attract the company, which joins US Airways, IBM, Arvato and Vertex as operators of call centres on Merseyside. This, together with Land Rover’s decision to transfer production of its best selling Freelander model to Halewood from the West Midlands, is a sign that a better, busier Liverpool is coming into being in time for 2008. For further information: www.liverpoolculture.com
Fresh ideas on how to revitalise the Northwest’s asset-rich but under-performing tourism industry have been unveiled following a radical rethink on the quality of product on offer and the way the sector organises and markets itself. Although the industry contributes £6 billion to the regional economy and employs 250,000 people it is failing to measure up to global competition. Whilst city breaks are increasing, the traditional market for coastal resorts has been in decline and whilst the region has many examples of excellence too many tourism businesses are struggling to meet the service levels demanded by today’s consumers. Blackpool is still a family-fun destination but has lost a significant market share in the past 10 years. The resort is now in the throes of a master planning exercise, supported by the Northwest Development Agency, and believes Las Vegas-type casinos are an essential component of its regeneration. The transformation of Blackpool into “Europe’s premier resort destination” has been identified as one of several ‘signature’ projects in a new framework plan for developing a sustainable tourism industry within the region. Cruise terminals in Liverpool and Cumbria, the renaissance of the Lake District – “an attraction with global appeal but suffering from static demand and lack of investment” – and more schemes to exploit the international visitor appeal of Hadrian’s Wall are also singled out as capital intensive projects that could have a beneficial impact on the industry. Business tourism is seen as a golden opportunity to generate sectoral growth and studies are under way into the market viability of establishing an NEC-style exhibition and conference centre in the region. Such a project would require ‘huge’ investment by a number of agencies. “The region is the envy of other parts of Britain for the diversity of its tourism offer,” enthuses James Berresford, NWDA’s Head of Tourism. “It has the raw product to excite anybody but is not living up to its true potential. The Tourism Strategy addresses that.” Since his arrival from Shakespeare country where he was Director of Heart of England Tourist Board the NWDA has been given strategic responsibility for tourism, which is already part of the Agency’s business cluster programme. The NWDA will not act as an umbrella tourist board, insists Berresford. It will provide policy leadership and act as an enabling body – this year it will spend another £3 million on tourism projects.
The industry is being reorganised around a Tourism Forum, five Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) – or mini tourist boards – covering Cumbria, Lancashire and Blackpool, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire-Warrington, and a small executive team within the NWDA. The two existing tourist boards will migrate into the new structures. Small businesses are being urged to align themselves behind the DMOs to take advantage of their marketing, brand support, training and membership services. “Tourism is largely a collection of thousands of micro-businesses and it is not productive for any one of these to be trying to promote itself. It is far better they position themselves behind a recognisable destination,” explains Berresford. Launched at an event in Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery, the 10 year blueprint contains a raft of measures for improving the scope and quality of the region’s tourism offer. Marketing will focus on using the pulling power of ‘attack’ brands – Manchester, Liverpool, the Lake District and Chester – to ‘slipstream’ visitors to lesser-known attractions. There will also be ‘thematic’ campaigns focusing on features that make the region unique – its countryside, industrial legacy, nightlife, and its cosmopolitan food. Sport is a big money spinner and one early promotion will play on the strengths of the region as ‘England’s Golf Coast’. A ‘Regional Gems’ programme will highlight established attractions such as the Lady Lever Art Gallery and Jodrell Bank, and industry leaders will seek to build on the high profile success of the Commonwealth Games by organising a calendar of sustainable international events. “We have to be a lot cleverer aligning ourselves against market demand,” suggests Berresford. He believes the region could develop as a niche cruising destination with a holiday emphasis on sailing around the Celtic ring of Wales, Ireland and the Scottish islands and is trying to generate private sector interest in the idea. Education, skills training, innovation, the promotion of best management practice and expanding on-line booking systems are also singled out as special priorities.
Destination England’s Northwest
“The region is the envy of other parts of Britain for the diversity of its tourism offer” James Berresford NWDA Head of Tourism
Transport interchange eases congestion
Investing in emerging markets
An unmarked dawn departure by National Express 336 for Coventry in early July was the low-key launch for Manchester Airport’s £60 million Ground Transport Interchange. Manchester Airport Group Chief Executive Geoff Muirhead has watched over the scheme for almost a decade, from vision through planning towards its fruition – duotone-clad, spacious, with a space-age look in glass and steel. The Interchange, the first of its kind in Europe, bonds train, bus and coach operations under one roof and offers quality, care and information. “It is the gateway to the airport – not simply a bus or rail station. It is a high quality public transport hub” he said. Alongside the passenger lounge loading bay, buses and coaches nose in, airliner style. Inside the lounge are 205 padded seats and in alternate rows two seats have been taken away to leave space for a wheelchair. Passengers reach the Interchange along two elevated, glass-sided Skylink tubes that have linked the rail station and terminals since the 1990s. Those wanting tickets to ride take the escalator or lift to ground level and a semi-circular kiosk with six counter spaces, including one for wheelchairs. It sells to 90 direct rail destinations, from Glasgow to Crewe, and to many more places by coach. Travellers with dallying time, however, can continue to the square gallery complete with shops. A new ‘down’ escalator lands in a glass atrium beneath the gallery with small café, sandwich bar, currency exchange and, eventually, remote airline
check-in desks. The complex has real time displays showing air, rail, coach and bus departures by destination and time. Passengers can quickly check the next flight to Berlin or next coach to Bradford. The Rail Station handles about 1.5 million passengers annually and, counting coach and bus travellers, the Interchange total is 2 million passengers. A smart new six storey office block – 4M – has been constructed above the lounge. Geoff Muirhead recalls the opening of Terminal Two and the rail station in 1993 when the former cost ten times the latter. “I said then that despite individual costs, both projects were of equal importance to the long term future of the airport and that has proved correct. The new transport hub is crucial to our getting more people here by train-bus-coach – otherwise the airport’s long term future and its sustainable development would be frustrated.” Early signs are encouraging for the airport’s campaign to improve the present 19 per cent of all journeys to airport by public transport to 25 per cent by 2005. Peter Durie, Head of Service delivery for Manchester Airport Developments Ltd, since 2000, said the Interchange would greatly help the airport develop, “competing on a world stage with major ‘hub’ airports like Schipol, Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt. It will also greatly
improve our customers’ experience.” Management deny having ‘forgotten the car’, pointing to more short stay parking just completed near Terminal One. Beneath the bus-coach lounge runs a tunnel ready for use by Metrolink light rail – completion expected by 2007-08 – routed from Altrincham through the airport and Wythenshawe to Manchester. Space is also reserved for a third platform and further general expansion. The complex has already won its first award, for efficiency in use of materials for energy conservation. Bus and coach
passenger reaction to the Interchange is relief at not having to stand in the wind-swept bus shelters beside Terminal 1.
Manchester Airport Group Chief Executive Geoff Muirhead at the airport’s new £60 million ground transport interchange
For further information: www.manchesterairport.co.uk
International Development Minister Sally Keeble MP launches the UK ITPO Office, October 2002 SME development in Africa Investment negotiations with Real Oil Ltd in Nigeria
More Northwest companies are securing commercial access to developing countries on the back of United Nation industrial development programmes. In many cases deals are being done that safeguard and enhance the high-value manufacturing, skills base, and R&D end of their UK operations.
The process of market entry into nations like China, Nigeria, Brazil, South Africa and Morocco is being brokered by a UN agency hosted and operated by the Northwest Development Agency on behalf of a number of co-funding RDAs. “It’s good to have a prestigious UN agency in one of the regions and it’s particularly apt in this case that it’s in the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution,” observes John McFadzean, Head of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation’s UK office. UNIDO offers governments in developing countries industrial policy advice and practical help on how to transform their economies and widen employment. To do this effectively it has to capture and mobilise private investment from the richer, developed countries like Britain. Seeing this as an important business opportunity for regional companies, particularly well-managed SMEs hungry to widen their trade horizons, the Agency made a successful bid to set up a UNIDO Investment and Technology Promotion Office (ITPO). International Development Minister Sally Keeble MP officially launched the office, now fully integrated into NWDA’s operations, last October. McFadzean and his 18-strong UK team, which includes a number of corporate finance advisers, are currently working on programmes in 14 countries acting as an investment catalyst between local partners and some 60 UK companies – 26 of them located in the Northwest. They include businesses in the software, food and drink, chemicals, textiles, environmental services, and energy, a spread
that sits comfortably with the growth sectors targeted for action under the NWDA’s cluster development programme. The office works closely with Trade Partners UK, also co-located in NWDA’s Warrington HQ. It’s just finalising a deal that will see a Northwest company sell its environmental accreditation software into 30 UNIDO ‘cleaner production’ centres around the world. “The company gets a great UN-branded sales infrastructure in developing countries and the cleaner production facilities get a tool that will allow them to acquire a larger customer base and an income stream selling the software and services,” says McFadzean. The UNIDO team tends to assist mainly manufacturers, many of whom face fierce competition from lower cost producers in the countries they wish to penetrate. They are currently working with a local chemical company that plans to overcome the problem by shifting production of an intermediate chemical offshore to a joint venture in China thus freeing up capacity in the Northwest for new product development and added value goods that it can re-export to China. An economist with wide experience of international development, McFadzean stresses the importance of protecting a company’s UK base. In one instance his office advised against a cross-border joint venture because of the threat it posed to the potential investor’s core business. “We are here to make local companies stronger,” he says, “not weaken them...” For further information: www.nwda-unido.org.uk
Regeneration Minister Yvette Cooper has launched an £89 million programme to reward councils who come up with radical ideas to transform parks and public spaces. She highlighted the redevelopment of a landfill site at Wirral’s Bidston Moss into woodland and meadows as a model project... Three Northwest councils will share £27 million in government grants to raise the standard of their housing stock and housing management. Warrington (£18.3 million), High Peak (£4.7 million) and South Lakeland (£4.2 million) were each successful with bids to set up Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs)... The region is to receive nearly £2.8 million to extend the funding period for 178 street wardens as part of the Government’s drive to revitalise deprived areas. The wardens are working successfully in vulnerable communities to cut crime and improve the environment... New insolvency legislation has been introduced to promote a ‘rescue culture’ and help more regional companies survive when they get into financial difficulty. The changes, which took effect in September, also abolish the Crown’s preferential claim – benefiting unsecured creditors, many of whom are small businesses...
Whitehall despatches Reducing traffic delays Road hauliers and ordinary motorists can expect major improvements to the region’s road networks over the next few years to ease congestion following recent announcements by the Government and the Highways Agency. Transport Secretary Alistair Darling has given his support to the development of £480 million proposals to reduce delays on the M60 motorway in North Manchester. It came in response to the M60 JETTS multi-modal study that looked at congestion between Junction 12 at Eccles and Junction 18 at Simister. Plans for the M60 – to be developed by the Highways Agency – aim to segregate long distance and local traffic. They include construction of a fourth lane between Junctions 15 and 13 by 2011, possible bypass slip roads for Junction 12 at Eccles and quality transport corridors to improve the reliability of bus services. The Highways Agency has also drawn up a 10-year action plan for the M57/M58/A5036 route to Liverpool Docks to aid regeneration by easing congestion, improving safety, promoting integrated transport and protecting the environment.
Referendum process hots up People in the Northwest are to be given a vote on whether they want to see an elected regional assembly. Two other regions, Yorkshire and Humberside and the North East, have also expressed enough interest in the idea for Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to initiate the first moves towards regional referendums. A summary document published by the Government in June showed that most categories of regional respondents in a soundings exercise were in favour of a referendum, including 57 per cent of the largest group (individuals). 86 per cent of unitary councils in the Northwest and 76 per cent of districts were in favour but all three county councils opposed the move. The Boundary Committee will conduct local government reviews in each region as part of the build-up process to a referendum. It’s expected that the first referendums could take place in Autumn 2004.
An Audience with Jonathan Porritt Challenging conventional business thinking on sustainable development The Lowry Centre, Salford Quays
Festival of Skills A showcase of skill opportunities in Cheshire & Warrington Chester Racecourse
Business Enterprise Xchange 2003 Education and motivation for entrepreneurs Manchester International Convention Centre
North West in Europe Conference Building bridges with new member states Corinthia Towers Hotel, Prague
The Manufacturers’ Summit 2003 – Making it Happen Business leaders chart the route to manufacturing success Reebok Stadium, Bolton
Manufacturing Institute Annual Dinner and Awards Featuring some of the best Northwest manufacturing companies The Lowry Hotel, Manchester
Northwest Business Excellence Awards Recognising excellence and innovation across the region The Palace Hotel, Manchester
Kendal Mountain Film Festival Tales of derring-do on the world’s toughest climbs Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal
Launch of the Northwest Faith Survey How faith communities contribute to the region Mersey Ferries, Liverpool
Royal Television Society England’s Northwest Awards Showcasing the greatest talents of Northwest TV Grand Central Theatre, Liverpool
Second Biotechnology Awards Dinner A celebration of success in the biotechnology sector The Mere Golf and Country Club, Cheshire
Mersey Basin Annual Conference A landmark year for waterside regeneration Wigan Investment Centre
BBC North West Sports Awards More honours for the region’s sporting talent Midland Crowne Plaza, Manchester
CBI North West Business Awards More accolades for the region’s business achievers Midland Crowne Plaza, Manchester
Business rate incentive Local councils are expected to gain up to £1 billion over the next three years from the Government’s proposed Local Authority Business Growth Scheme. Consultations are invited by the end of October and the scheme should start in April 2005. It will allow councils to retain money from business rates where there is increased economic growth in their area. Currently the rates are collected and passed into a central pool before being redistributed on a per capita basis. Ministers believe the scheme will create positive incentives for local authorities to work in partnership with business, Regional Development Agencies and other key local and regional players to maximise economic growth.
Other key events 01 06 06
October RENEW Consultation Event JJB Stadium, Bolton Conservative Party Conference Winter Gardens, Blackpool Regional Economic Performance Conference City of Manchester Stadium
For further information: www.nwda.co.uk
Transatlantic Express New York Improving Coastal & Recreational Waters Conference Blackpool November Local Government Association Annual Economic Regeneration Conference 2003 New Century House, Manchester
Serving the community
We must help to inform education about exactly what skills are needed out here in industry. It’s a crucially important agenda.
Gerry Yeung is the enterprising co-owner with his brother Harry of Manchester’s award-winning Cantonese restaurant, the Yang Sing. First established in 1977, it re-opened in September 1999, almost two years after it was destroyed by fire. Gerry Yeung will take over as President of the city’s Chamber of Commerce in October.
One of my main themes in the coming year will be that business needs to move closer to education. This is certainly the case in my own hospitality industry. We complain there are not enough skilled people to draw on but just how much do we involve ourselves in education and training? How many of us go to the colleges and explain what we need and what training students require? We must help to inform education about exactly what skills are needed out here in industry. It’s a crucially important agenda. I also want to help to make the Northwest a successful destination, in more ways than one, and Manchester is my starting point. I want the city to be a magnet for tourists and visitors, as well as for graduates who have studied in the city. And I want it to be a location for investment and job creation. The region must pull together to attract visitors and we must work hard to retain those graduates who currently disappear to other parts of the country when they leave university. But those people will only stay if their talents are valued. When I first arrived in Manchester in 1970, the region was just recovering from the demise of the traditional heavy industries. The Northwest was challenged with reinventing itself – and I think that Manchester has been at the forefront of that process, ahead of other cities. Now that challenge exists again as we see the loss of early technology-based industries, like the call centres, which are transferring their operations to India. The key to success in the knowledge-based economy has to be innovation, and for that we return to education and skills. It is what we need to keep reinventing ourselves.”
The Northwest Development Agency manages all operations from its Headquarters at: PO Box 37 Renaissance House Centre Park Warrington WA1 1XB Tel: +44 (0)1925 400 100 Fax: +44 (0)1925 400 400 e-mail: email@example.com
In addition, there are five area offices for the implementation of local activities as follows:
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“I remember when my children were young and their prep school was organising a summer fair. I offered to bring spring rolls and pour the tea and I recall someone asking me why I bothered to do that. The answer was – it’s in my personality, I want to help and by doing so I gain something from it myself. Manchester has been my home now for 33 years and I’ve always been involved in community affairs, both personally and professionally. Our restaurant has engaged itself in many activities with the city’s museums and galleries, with fund raising for charities and that way has established a good and respected relationship with the community. Although I’ve been a member of the Manchester Chamber for a long time, I’m a relatively new boy when it comes to representing them. I’m well aware that my predecessors in the role of President have all delivered strong personal messages during their term of office – and I will be no exception. Since I came to Manchester there have been so many changes – all positive. I’ve witnessed exciting economic developments, commercial improvements, and progress in education, particularly the higher education sector.
Greater Manchester Giants Basin Potato Wharf Castlefield Manchester M3 4NB Tel: +44 (0)161 817 7400 Fax: +44 (0)161 831 7051
Cumbria Gillan Way Penrith 40 Business Park Penrith Cumbria CA11 9BP Tel: +44 (0)1768 867 294 Fax: +44 (0)1768 895 477
Merseyside Station House Mercury Court Tithebarn Street Liverpool L2 2QP Tel: +44 (0)1925 400 100 Fax: +44 (0)151 236 3731
Lancashire 13 Winckley Street Preston Lancashire PR1 2AA Tel: +44 (0)1772 206 000 Fax: +44 (0)1772 200 049
Cheshire Brew House Wilderspool Park Greenalls Avenue Warrington WA4 6HL Tel: +44 (0)1925 644 220 Fax: +44 (0)1925 644 222 Visit: www.nwda.co.uk & www.englandsnorthwest.com
Come together CONGRATULATIONS LIVERPOOL England’s Northwest congratulates Liverpool on becoming European Capital of Culture in 2008. Your hard work is an inspiration for the whole region.
Our Television and Film Industry is the largest outside London, providing 10% of all programmes on network television.
An extra 14,000 jobs and £2 billion worth of investment will add to the £1.7 billion already earned by the cultural industries in England’s Northwest each year, employing more people than any other region outside London and the South East.
And this year Manchester was named as the UK’s number one cultural city according to the BoHo index that measures innovation and diversity.
Over seven million people visited Lancashire’s tourist locations last year and two million more visited Cheshire and Cumbria’s. And Liverpool is expected to receive an extra 1.7 million in 2008 alone.
The Northwest Development Agency will continue to give its support – eight days a week! For further information please contact: www.nwda.co.uk