315째 THE RDA MAGAZINE JULY 2004 ISSUE 03
Biodiversity bonanza Celebrity ospreys hatch economic nest egg Automotive Alliance Car makers drive new cluster initiative Nuclear clean-up Opportunities galore for supply companies Star turn University bids to recruit world talent Food showcase Regional chefs woo London connoisseurs
4 Front cover image Adult male osprey
The Third Degree Laura Wolfe, Regional Director of the Institute of Directors
Gearing up to support the automotive industry 8 Turning bright ideas into products 10 Business ethics campaign 11 First the good news
The Agency was established to drive forward the sustainable economic development of the Northwest. That was, and remains, a significant task. It can only be achieved by focussed action on our part, ensuring that everything that the Agency undertakes will help to deliver the objectives of the Regional Economic Strategy.
12 Landmark buildings for King’s Waterfront 13 Fast tracking rural entrepreneurs 14 Market towns lead rural revival
Skills & Employment
16 Ospreys hatch economic nest egg 18 Capital food experience 19 Barrow fights back
26 Survey reveals feel-good factor 27 Fashion NW website launch
The Agency recently completed an exercise to prioritise all potential projects. Consideration was given to ensure that projects are of high quality, sustainable and deliverable, offer value for money, that other potential funding sources are maximised and that they support the delivery of the Regional Economic Strategy priorities. The Board has now approved a strategic investment plan that commits £1.4 billion to the economic regeneration of the Northwest region for the next three years. We will vigorously monitor the
20 ASP programme forges ahead 21 Opportunities galore 22 University bids for academic stardom
It is a mark of our success that we have generated a large number of high quality investment projects with our partners. This success also presents a challenge. We cannot, and should not, fund everything. It is our responsibility to ensure that we support those projects and initiatives that will make the greatest impact.
implementation of this investment plan and will regularly report to you our partners on our performance and achievements. If we are to effectively deliver the Regional Economic Strategy across the Northwest we must continue to develop the delivery capacity of our sub-regions. In order to do this we have initiated the development of Sub-Regional Partnerships. These Partnerships will develop and oversee the delivery of sub-regional action plans. Importantly, they will maximise the impact of regeneration activity by ensuring that future investment is properly coordinated. In the Northwest we can be proud of what we are achieving and a number of examples are described in this magazine. I am confident that the systematic and financially rigorous approach we have taken to producing our investment plan will ensure that we will continue to invest public money in a focussed and commercially robust way.
Bryan Gray July 2004
24 Port investment stimulates growth
28 Whitehall despatches 29 Event highlights 30 Adventure unlimited
31 All the contact details you need for our area offices
Trevor Bates email@example.com
Emma Degg 01925 400 100 firstname.lastname@example.org
There has been considerable speculation over recent months concerning the finances of the Northwest Regional Development Agency. I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight.
The Third Degree
Laura Wolfe established two ‘firsts’ when she was appointed North West Regional Director of the Institute of Directors (IoD) almost a year ago: she became both the youngest and the first female regional director in England. After nine years in London, pursuing an early career in marketing in the City, Laura has returned to her native Northwest determined to enhance the reputation of the region, the IoD’s fastest growing area with 2,800 members.
Laura After nine years living and working in London, what is the perception of the Northwest in the capital and how can the Institute help to change it? I moved to London the day after I graduated in Manchester and never intended to return. Nine years later I’m living and working here and loving every minute of it. The Northwest offers a great quality of life but we have a huge way to go to show those outside the region what’s on offer. We have to start internally by encouraging people to let it be known nationally what is happening here.
You have a passion for education – how can links with schools, colleges and universities enhance the IOD and its membership? It is important we involve students who are the leaders and directors of tomorrow. We are making links with some sixth forms and with business schools across the region. But it’s a two-way process. Around 65 per cent of our membership is from the SME sector who do not all appreciate just how much help business schools can offer them in terms of training and development, project work and ideas.
The Northwest is a hugely diverse region. How is the IOD assisting all parts of the region and the different sectors within it? Even though I grew up in the region I did not appreciate its size and diversity: we are building up five branch committees across the Northwest - in Manchester, Liverpool, Cheshire, Lancashire and Cumbria – and finding out what the members in each of them want. We know some prefer to come into the cities to do business and network, others want to have more local meetings. We are also holding a series of sector breakfasts which are proving very successful.
What kind of new initiatives have you introduced to broaden the appeal of the IOD particularly to young directors? You only have to look at the most recent Rich List to see how many young successful entrepreneurs we have in the UK – and we want to encourage that in the Northwest. We are planning a Directors of Tomorrow conference in November in which we will hold one session for 14 to 18-year-olds and another for 19 to 25-year-olds. We aim to bring in young entrepreneurs who are already successful or are making an impact to show what’s possible.
You have identified the need for the IoD to work closely with other organisations. What progress have you made in that direction? I believe strongly that it is neither realistic nor the right way forward for the IoD to sit on an isolated pedestal. We’re working closely with pro.manchester – there is a lot of synergy between our two organisations. Together we have organised the programme of sector breakfasts – they provide the professionals, we provide the companies. We are also working with the CBI and the Chamber, particularly on ideas for National Enterprise Week in November, so we can present one voice for the Northwest. Our links with the NWDA include plans for a dinner for our Cumbria members.
What difference is the new IoD hub making and what can it offer members? The hub gives the IoD a strong presence in a landmark building (Peter House) in the centre of Manchester. Our directors’ room is a place for members to meet informally, to access business information – and soon its walls will be hung with a rolling exhibition of art work from a local college to strengthen our links with the Arts & Business organisation.
Corporate social responsibility is now firmly on the business agenda. How can the IoD help its members embrace this ideal? Although CSR is currently very fashionable, there has to be a business case for it. People have to see the benefits and it’s our job both to give them access to relevant business information and help highlight the advantages of being good corporate citizens. There is a willingness to address the issue, but companies are grappling with how best to do it. In fact, some of our members are already demonstrating social responsibility without realising it. We have to work towards the good examples of today becoming the norms of tomorrow. How do IOD members view the idea of a regional assembly? At the moment, undecided. There are concerns about another layer of bureaucracy and the big question is whether the region will see a return on its investment. It’s our job to give our members both sides of the argument and all the information they need to make an informed decision. You admit your own career path to this role does not follow the conventional pattern. What does your appointment say about the IoD? It says the IoD is looking to the future. Although my background is drama school and marketing – I was events and sponsorships manager for Merrill Lynch Europe plc – there has been a great openness to that which is encouraging and exciting. I hope it also persuades young people to take advantage of the huge choices in education and see where it takes them. If they have a dream, I say pursue it. What are you passionate about outside your career? Manchester City – as you can see from the signed shirt and pictures on my office wall. When I worked in London I could only go to a handful of away games, but now I am a season ticket holder. And I have finally met Kevin Keegan - when I was eight I wrote to the TV programme ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ to ask to meet him but it never happened. It has now.
“It is important we involve students who are the leaders and directors of tomorrow”
Gearing up to support the automotive industry
Plant expansion raises job hopes Ford has rewarded the Jaguar plant at Speke with a major prize for its world-beating performance. From 2006 the factory will take over production of Land Rover’s new Freelander model from Solihull creating up to 1,000 jobs including those in the supply base. Heavy investment on the site in robotics, a new body shop and paint and trim facilities will double production capacity. The plant currently produces 70-80,000 cars a year with a workforce of 2,500 and 500 non-Jaguar personnel. Eighty per cent of the output is exported. Alan Walker, Financial Controller of Jaguar Cars, says the expansion is “great for the plant and great for the region.” Ford has already invested £300 million to prepare the Merseyside operation for the X-type and last year the site was judged by an independent team of assessors to be the best assembly plant in Ford’s global empire. The factory is regarded as a model of efficiency having adopted lean manufacturing techniques based on the Toyota production system. “We have proved to everyone’s surprise that you can implement this on a brownfield site,” says Walker. “Our challenge is to move on from that position. The moment you become complacent you are dead.”
Leaders of the region’s £9 billion automotive industry, the second biggest in the UK with 500 companies and 43,000 employees, have pledged their support for a new cluster initiative to sharpen the sector’s competitiveness in a challenging global marketplace. Hosting the launch of the Northwest Automotive Alliance (NAA), motoring expert and TV personality Quentin Wilson described the region as “the epicentre of automotive excellence and world-class standards.” He had special praise for the industry’s workforce which he cited as “incredibly talented and able.” Big investment programmes by Jaguar, Vauxhall and Bentley underline the confidence major manufacturers are showing in the region’s economy. When Land Rover switches production of the new Freelander model from Solihull to Speke, Liverpool, in 2006, the Big Three will have invested nearly £1.2 billion in new models in recent years. The NAA is the latest industry-led cluster organisation established by the Northwest Regional Development Agency. Chaired by Stuart Heys, Managing Director of Leyland Trucks, its aim is to co-ordinate and package support for the sector. It draws together a wide spectrum of production, supply, design and consultancy activity. The first major NAA project, Accelerate Northwest, a supply chain initiative based on the national supply group model, is already forging ahead. Later efforts will seek to promote innovation, best practice and skills development. Alan Turley, the NWDA’s Executive Director of Enterprise and Innovation, advised companies at the launch that the NAA would be the only body the Agency would work with in the future. One of the big issues the Agency was determined to tackle was the duplication of business support. Launch organisers staged their own ‘mini motor show’ at the Partnership for Learning Centre on the Jaguar site to draw attention to the rich diversity of vehicles manufactured in the region. The 30-strong collection included luxury marques, sports and rally cars, motorcycles, boom trikes and commercial vehicles. Last year more than 200,000 cars and 13,000 trucks rolled off regional assembly lines - 12 per cent of UK automotives sales. This year the figure will rise even higher as Vauxhall (Vectra and Astra), Jaguar (X-type) and Crewe-based Bentley (Continental GT) all step up production.
NAA Director Alan Walker described the launch as a key day in the industry’s regional aspirations. “There have been too many supply-led initiatives. We have to understand what industry wants and come up with finely tuned schemes across a range of areas.” A keynote speech by Sarah Chambers, Director of the Automotive Unit at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), highlighted the importance the DTI places on the Northwest automotive industry.
“The Northwest is the epicentre of automotive excellence and world-class standards” Despite the dominance of the big motor manufacturers the sector can still attract the small entrepreneur. Dragon Sports Cars is the region’s newest automotive venture and joined the big boys at the NAA event to show off its Formula One-style car to an appreciative audience. The car is the brainchild of Bill Conway, who has been able to realise a 20-year dream to build a road-legal 130 mph sports car that can be used on the racetrack or for daily transport, thanks to the sale of a family business and some NWDA grant aid. “We’ve put £120,000 into the venture and are ready to start production to sell them into a world-wide market,” says Conway. He is building the car at Oulton Park, Cheshire, with a five-strong team. Costing upwards of £24,500 and powered by a 900 cc Honda super bike engine (0-60 in 3.5 seconds), the car has already wowed visitors at the Autosport Show and generated sales inquiries from Japan, Hong Kong, Europe and the USA. “We have a Japanese company making special tyres for the car, otherwise everything else is done in-house”, says Conway.
Launch of Northwest Automotive Alliance Left: Quentin Wilson Right: Alan Turley Automotive excellence The new Dragon sports car
Accelerator science Daresbury Science Campus will gain its first major tenant following the decision to establish the prestigious National Centre for Accelerator Science in the region. It will house up to 120 scientists and technicians, including a large number of new posts.
Turning bright ideas into products 1
Innovation fever is sweeping the region as the Government and the Northwest Regional Development Agency throw more effort and resources into developing the UK as a key knowledge hub of the global economy. Companies, universities, research institutions, schools, business support agencies and even museums have joined the bandwagon to heighten interest in innovation and turn bright ideas into commercial products. The Northwest is emerging as a regional leader in championing science and technology. In recognition of this the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has agreed that the NWDA should host the National Annual Innovation lecture from Liverpool’s refurbished Palm House on October 12th. Linked by satellite to an audience of 10,000 businesses around the UK, the prestige event will provide the region with an opportunity to video showcase some of its success stories. Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt set out the DTI’s plans for getting “ideas out of the lab, into the factory and on to the balance sheet” in a major report ‘Competing in the global economy: the innovation challenge.’ The Government sees innovation as a route to higher productivity and greater prosperity for all and aims to position the UK as the leading country in Europe in terms of business, research and development and patenting within a decade. Many of the ideas put forward in a 16-point action framework are already been acted upon in the region, according to George Baxter, the NWDA’s Head of Innovation. Investment is being channelled into several major projects including the NWDA-funded Daresbury Science Campus whose first major tenant will be the Cockcroft Institute, a national centre for accelerator science and technology.
Agency funding is also being used to establish the £15 million Northwest Science Fund. Money from the Fund will be used over three years to develop technology and world-class science projects up to the business plan stage. “We want to look at major chunks of research and not spread the Fund too thinly,” says Baxter. “However, there has to be some commercial application so the region gets a return for the money we invest.” “It has to be top class and patentable and we are asking universities to use their creativity to come up with some worthy projects for which no matching funding will be required.” Collaborative bids are also being invited from Northwest businesses for the first tranche of £50 million from the DTI’s new £150 million National Technology Fund. The money will be targeted at research and development in seven priority areas including bio processing, renewable technologies and sensor and control systems. There has also been a big leap in funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) - £187 million - to enable regional universities to fulfil their ‘outreach’ mission. Northwest Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have submitted 23 bids, nine of them collaborative. Successful commercialisation of knowledge projects, the sort of things Richard Lambert was very keen on in his review of business-university interaction, will draw match funding from the NWDA, which can be used to lever in European money. “Assuming the Northwest wins its fair share of bids, HEIs could be looking at securing £20 - £25 million from HEFCE, plus our contribution. With European and other funding this could work out at £70 - £80 million,” explains Baxter.
Homage to innovation Museum of Science and Industry’s new gallery
Several initiatives are also under way in Merseyside, Cumbria and EU Objective 2 areas to motivate regional businesses to innovate. The NWDA is also working with the Defence Diversification Agency to spin out patented defence-inspired technology into local companies. NWDA funding is also being used to get the innovation message across to young people. In April, Richard Caborn, Minister for Sport and Tourism, opened a new £1.3 million gallery at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester devoted to scientific discovery. An interactive exhibition ‘Manchester Science: Discoveries that Changed the World’ showcases the work of four major Manchester scientists – John Dalton, James Joule, Ernest Rutherford and Sir Bernard Lovell. The timeline of discovery is brought right up to date with 15 examples of modern-day Northwest breakthroughs including technology that sees through fog, expanding plugs for oil wells, a robot hand, scar free healing, socks that don’t smell and quantum dots, dubbed the “ball bearings of the 21st century.” The new gallery, supported by £200,000 of NWDA money, will provide an interactive experience for the 250,000 children who visit the museum each year, illustrating that “world-class science is alive and well in the Northwest,” says George Baxter. “Much of the region’s wealth has been built on the scientific talent of its population so it’s critical to maintain the interest of the next generation in scientific endeavour.”
Although essentially a ‘blue sky’ research facility, the Cockcroft Institute is expected to generate commercial spin-offs since a large part of its research and development work will be aimed at the construction of advanced technological components for a Linear-Electron Positron Collider, an essential tool in understanding the basic laws of physics. Professor Peter Ratoff, lead scientist at the University of Lancaster’s Physics Department who is involved with the project, expects industrial engagement but believes it may be some years before there is any significant business spin-off: “We hope industry can become involved in building specialised components for future accelerator projects. It will ensure the creation of a very skilled pool of workers in the region.” A collaborative venture between three universities – Liverpool, Manchester and Lancaster – and Daresbury Laboratory, the Institute is regarded as a major scientific coup for the region. It was won against stiff competition from Oxford and London, two of the so-called ‘golden triangle’ universities. Funding partners include the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (£7 million), the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC), the universities and the Northwest Regional Development Agency. “Our commitment to the Cockcroft Institute matches that of the research councils which says something about the level of support we are giving to big ticket science projects in the region,” said George Baxter. Total investment is expected to be £20 - £25 million over the next eight years. The Institute is expected to attract worldclass scientists and world-class science projects and produce 40-50 Ph.Ds over the next few years. The man leading the project team is Professor Julian Crampton, Liverpool’s Pro-Vice Chancellor. Dr, Mike Dexter, former Chief Executive of the Wellcome Trust, currently chairs the newlyformed Cockcroft Board. Scientists decided on the Institute’s name in honour of Todmorden-born Nobel Prize winner Sir John Cockcroft who is regarded as the father of the particle accelerator.
Business ethics campaign
First the good news
Business executives are being urged to join a new high-minded regional campaign aimed at helping companies gain a competitive edge by investing in responsible business practices. 1
Finian O’Boyle Executive Director CFS and Chief Operating Officer of CIS
believe the Northwest’s image is significantly affected by how well companies uphold their social and environmental responsibilities
Sustainability Northwest (SNW) and its partners appear to be on firm ground in launching the new ‘profit with principle’ crusade. In a snap survey 90 per cent of top managers across the Northwest felt corporate ethics was an important or emerging issue for their businesses. Launching the ‘Responsibility Northwest’ programme, Finian O’Boyle, Chair of SNW, drew attention to the growing body of evidence showing that firms committing to corporate social responsibility (CSR) can perform better financially. “Simply making money is no longer enough - not for shareholders, not for customers, not for staff. The corporate world is undergoing a substantial change and the creation of healthier relationships with all stakeholders is increasingly becoming a central business priority.” Responsibility Northwest is a joint £1.5 million initiative involving SNW, Business in the Community (BITC), and the Northwest Regional Development Agency. Its aim over the next three years is to showcase excellence in CSR and spread best practice across the whole corporate sector from big companies to small supply-chain enterprises. The region has a number of companies who have won awards for the integrity of their social and environmental reporting. They include United Utilities, The Co-operative Bank, the social enterprise FRC Group, CIS, Unilever and Shell. Supporting the campaign, NWDA Chairman Bryan Gray said the business community had an opportunity to “transform the Northwest into an international hub of expertise in responsible business practices that will attract significant inward investment and help to blaze a trail for sustainable development across the region.”
Senior executives attending the launch event were challenged to support a three-month in-depth piece of research into current behaviour patterns. The findings will be used to shape training provision, seminars, consultancy, networking events and mentoring schemes. Programme leaders gained some early insight into regional attitudes to CSR following a snap survey of business managers. Eighty per cent of those questioned believe the Northwest’s image is significantly affected by how well companies uphold their social and environmental responsibilities. Nearly a fifth of directors felt that corporate behaviour had no impact on the region’s reputation, showing that arguments for CSR have not yet been comprehensively won. Even amongst principled companies, it is clear that some stakeholders matter more than others. Employee satisfaction is a major concern, with 90 per cent of organisations measuring how well staff development is being implemented. However, local communities fare badly with less than 40 per cent of companies bothering to find out how their business practices impact on local people. Tax breaks and legislation to force change were also cited by over half the sample as important factors in influencing better company behaviour, demonstrating that it is hard to transform business practice on goodwill alone. SNW Chief Executive Erik Bichard, says the survey results show that business leaders are heading in the right direction but there is still much further to go: “Excellent business practices are vital in a world that requires companies not only to say they care, but to match words with actions.”
The Northwest is set to enjoy a welcome spurt in growth of over three per cent in 2004, outpacing the rest of the UK, according to the region’s independent economic forecasting panel. Official figures for 2003 should show a similar pattern. Factors influencing this performance include strong household spending on the back of rising house prices, a manufacturing recovery, high levels of public investment and increased output in construction and financial and business services. However, there is less optimistic news about the region’s economic prospects over the next 15 years. The most likely outcome is a growth rate of 1.9 per cent, which will widen the prosperity gap with other parts of the UK unless the Northwest can raise education standards and workforce skills. In its first long-term study, the Northwest Economic Forecasting Panel suggests that employees would have to raise their productivity by 50 per cent to reach the expected levels of UK growth by 2020. The panel’s work is regarded as a valuable resource in helping to the shape the future policies and investment programmes of the public and private sectors. Chaired by the DTI’s former chief economic adviser David Coates, the distinguished 13-strong group brings together leaders from business, academia, consulting and the public sector. It enjoys the support of the Regional Intelligence Unit, based with the Northwest Regional Development Agency. The panel had only official figures from 2001and 2002 to go on in making its latest short-term forecast, but is confident that when official data for the two later years becomes available it will point to the region achieving faster than average growth. Coates thinks that this “unusual” result has come about by the convergence of a number of factors including higher household spending and the impact of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
“Unfortunately it does not reflect a marked and lasting improvement in the underlying factors that continue to limit what the region could achieve”. The Spring assessment suggests a faster than average growth until 2006 tailing off to just under 2 per cent by 2007, an outlook consistent with the 15-year forecast published earlier in the year. “If we are right about the short-term there is likely to be an increase in unemployment over the next few years from 3.4 per cent recently to just over 4 per cent in 2007, reversing an improvement achieved since the start of the decade.” Reflecting in a separate exercise what might happen in the longer term (to 2020), the panel considered four scenarios for growth of between 1.7 per cent and 2.8 per cent and opted for a central forecast of 1.9 per cent. This is slightly faster than was achieved in the 1990s but a little slower than was achieved in the exceptional period 1998-2001. Based on 1.9 per cent: • Average house prices will double over the next 15 years to £175,000 • Another 270,000 houses will be needed • Wages will rise by just over a quarterto £27,000 The panel is encouraged by signs of an improving enterprise culture in Manchester but without significant changes in attitudes elsewhere in the region it does not expect to see a strong contribution from greater enterprise to faster productivity growth. For further information: www.nwriu.co.uk
Car and home insurer esure and its higher-risk car insurance sister company First Alternative are expanding into new offices in central Manchester with the help of a £1.3 million NWDA grant. Over the next two years the two companies aim to recruit 500 additional staff to work in The Meredian building in Quay Street... Gordon Campbell is the new Chairman of BNFL in succession to Hugh Collum. He will head the board until the restructuring of the company in April 2005 and will then chair the successor company until the end of March 2007... Latest figures from BT show that broadband take-up in the Northwest is only 7.3 per cent of homes and businesses despite 95 per cent of properties in the region being connected to broadband enabled exchanges. Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral are the first local areas in the region to achieve 100 per cent exchange coverage... Closer ties have been established between the NWDA and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) to help more Northwest businesses achieve their international potential. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the two organisations establishes a framework for future joint working...
Fast tracking rural entrepreneurs Rural entrepreneurs have a new ‘hot-house’to help bring their bright ideas to commercial reality following the opening by Industry MinsterJacqui Smith of a £1.1 million incubator at Myerscough College, near Preston, a leading provider of land-based education.
Landmark buildings for King’s Waterfront New exhibition images of Liverpool’s King’s Waterfront arena, conference centre and public piazza reveal a visually dramatic landmark development that is sensitive to Liverpool’s historic waterfront and skyline. City leaders intend to take full advantage of the world-class location by positioning the £100 million architectural tour de force close to Albert Dock and overlooking the river. The project timetable envisages submission of an outline planning application for the overall scheme by the end of June. It would cover detailed plans for the civic facilities at the north end of the site and a more general application for the rest of the 14 ha (35 acres) site. Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2005 with completion of the public buildings in time for the European Capital of Culture celebrations in 2008. King’s Waterfront is regarded one of the best development and architectural opportunities in Europe and has attracted international interest. Earlier this year, the scheme’s public partners - Liverpool Vision, the Northwest Regional Development Agency, Liverpool City Council and site owners English Partnerships – selected award-winning architects Wilkinson Eyre to design the civic facilities. This was followed in April by the appointment of developer David McLean to build 290 apartments, the first private sector phase of development. Up to 1,800 dwellings, hotels, offices (18,000 sq ft), retail and leisure facilities will be provided on the site. It is estimated that Liverpool loses up to 200 conference events a year because it does not have a modern and flexible venue, resulting in a possible loss of £20 million to the local economy. With a delegate capacity of 1,500, the proposed conference centre and adjoining 8,000 sq metre exhibition area will be capable of accommodating 90 per cent of conference events held in the UK.
The arena will be able to host sporting and entertainment events with a capacity up to 10,000. The aim in both cases is to create viable and sustainable facilities that will not need revenue subsidy from the public sector. Public interest in the evolution of the King’s Waterfront scheme has been high and the latest design concepts reflect feedback from consultation on the masterplan for the site and the strong public desire to see the landmark buildings located on the river frontage. Two exhibitions highlight the importance of the scheme in the overall regeneration of the city. ‘On the Waterfront’, which opened at Liverpool Vision’s offices in April, brings together for the first time, the King’s Waterfront, Princes Dock, Fourth Grace and Pierhead projects in a unified vision of what the area will look like. Local residents also had an opportunity to study the development more closely when detailed designs and models of the new civic facilities by Wilkinson Eyre went on display at Liverpool’s Moat House Hotel in May. Funding for the public element of Kings Waterfront would be secured through contributions from the NWDA, English Partnerships, Liverpool City Council and the Merseyside Objective 1 programme. A substantial contribution would also be sought from the site’s private sector developers. ‘On the Waterfront’ exhibition at Liverpool Vision, The Observatory, Old Haymarket, Liverpool, continues until August 27th. For further information: www.liverpoolvision.co.uk
Lorna Tyson Director of Business Development and Enterprise at Myerscough College
Housed in the College’s Rural Business Centre, the new facility is the latest in a line of hard-edged initiatives to emerge from the Northwest Regional Development Agency’s £100 million programme to reinvigorate and diversify the rural economy. The incubator, which has attracted funding support of £750,000 from the programme, aims to nurse start-ups to the stage where they can move back into rural areas, populating new workspace in former barns and other redundant farm buildings and creating employment. To qualify for support, fledgling enterprises must be innovative and be able to draw benefit from the wide range technical expertise within the College. Myerscough offers 14 study areas, from agriculture and veterinary nursing to golf and creative design. In recent years there has been significant expansion in mechanisation and motor sport. “A lot of very good business concepts fail because people are unsure how to access relevant technical development sources or simply because they cannot afford to rent the workspace they need,” observes Lorna Tyson, Myerscough’s Director of Business Development and Enterprise. “The incubator unit has outstanding facilities and a professional atmosphere to encourage fast-track progress for committed entrepreneurs.” Designed to accommodate up to14 fledgling companies, the incubator offers a range of support including front office, web-design and IT services. Hot-desking facilities are also available for would-be entrepreneurs not yet at the incubation stage. Myerscough itself is taking a proactive role in new business formation by offering the College’s 7,000 full-time and part-time students 12-months free incubation for the best business ideas. Five companies have already moved into the purpose-built facility including Oak Technical Services, a venture set up by mechanical engineer Paul Andrews and solicitor Bill Meeson to turn an low-emissions personal vehicle concept into a small city runabout.
In 1998, they won a SMART award to develop an energy efficient engine and are currently seeking to raise another £130,000 to build a prototype ecovehicle with a view to it going into commercial production. “We aim to sell the concept to city councils as a viable alternative to people choking city centres with cars,” says Andrews.
“The incubator unit has outstanding facilities and a professional atmosphere to encourage fast-track progress for committed entrepreneurs.” Lorna Tyson Regional automotive business adviser Tim McGarrity is helping the two visionaries bring their dream to reality as part of the NWDA’s cluster development programme. He calls the project “a brave concept for the 21st century.” Set in peaceful countryside off the A6, Myerscough’s corporate nursery is expected to have special appeal for entrepreneurs seeking refuge from noisy and congested city centres. Modern connectivity allows companies to be based in rural areas while working with people in the big urban centres. This is very much the case with the incubator’s first arrival, Hall EffectTechnology, which is developing a non-invasive method of measuring the glucose content of blood in diabetics. Co-founders Dr Emanuel Cohen and Rodney Jackson work on the basic science in the incubator while colleagues at Exchange Quay, Manchester, focus on commercialisation issues. “We are in a delightful rural environment and that’s more conducive than Manchester to free thinking and creativity. It’s also good to have the buzz of young people around you,” explains Jackson. For further information: email@example.com
Market towns lead rural revival Ulverston is looking to Laurel and Hardy, Clitheroe calling on its Castle and Frodsham favouring its Christmas festival – all three market towns have their own ideas on how best to develop more economic vitality.
These towns are among 17 in the Northwest involved in the UKwide Market Towns Initiative, a joint venture between the Regional Development Agency and the Countryside Agency. The plan, which aims to breathe new energy into towns that once played a pivotal role in the life of rural communities, forms a key part in the Northwest Regional Development Agency’s £100 million rural regeneration programme. Earlier this year a conference organised at Lancaster University by the NWDA and the Countryside Agency, entitled ’Investing in Market Towns’, revealed unprecedented investment and regeneration activity in the towns. Funding of £2.4 million has already been announced for Ulverston and Clitheroe and £237,000 has been allocated to kickstart work in Windermere, Bowness and Ambleside. The towns can also access other funding programmes. Steve Heaton, NWDA’s Head of Rural Affairs says: “We are trying to restore the pivotal role that these towns played in the days when they provided a services hub for the surrounding communities. And to do that they have to be attractive and vibrant.” Ulverston, birthplace of Arthur Stanley Jefferson, otherwise known as Stan Laurel, and home of the Laurel & Hardy Museum, hopes that a larger-than-life statue of the comic duo, by Graham Ibbeson, will attract visitors in the way Eric Morecambe’s sculpture has drawn thousands to his seaside birthplace. The Ulverston and Low Furness Market Town Initiative has also begun to provide support for some of its target 500 existing and startup businesses, given more backing for innovation and enterprise, and is encouraging inward investment. It also aims to provide a package of tourism initiatives to safeguard and create up to 334 jobs. In Clitheroe, the initiative aims to improve the town’s cultural heritage through the refurbishment of key buildings including Clitheroe’s Norman Castle, subject of a local council Heritage Lottery bid, for a proposed £2 million scheme to upgrade the museum and greenhouse areas. Plans also include the refurbishment of the parish hall, the town’s largest meeting space, expanding economic activity, and providing increased retail space in a regenerated Lowergate area. In Frodsham, the NWDA has approved funding worth £1.6 million for a package of regeneration measures. Efforts will be made to build on the success of last year’s first two-day Christmas festival of traditional markets and displays, which attracted over 10,000 visitors, benefiting local shops. The town is also keen to strengthen support for local businesses and has secured European funding to appoint a business liaison officer. A planned one-stop-shop would include business facilities as well as education, community and health services. * The 17 market towns involved in the initiative are: Cumbria: Ambleside, Aspatria, Cockermouth, Egremont, Keswick, Longtown, Millom, Penrith, Silloth, Ulverston, Wigton and Windermere; Lancashire: Barnoldswick, Carnforth, Clitheroe, Garstang, Padiham; Cheshire: Frodsham (pictured right), Neston, Sandbach. For further information: www.countryside.gov.uk/market-towns
“We are trying to restore the pivotal role that these towns played in the days when they provided a services hub for the surrounding communities.” Steve Heaton NWDA Head of Rural Affairs
Saving the region’s wetlands
Ospreys hatch economic nest egg 1
Famous visitor A Bassenthwaite osprey Cottongrass Upland meadows support plant diversity Lancashire bluebells Burton Wood, Lune Valley
Agriculture and peat extraction have robbed the Northwest of much of its wetlands but efforts are underway to recreate some of these lost eco-systems with obvious benefits for wildlife, tourism and recreation. In Cumbria, English Nature has concentrated resources on securing mosses on the Solway at Bowness Common, Glasson Moss, Drumburgh and Wedholme Flow, some of the best remaining peat bogs in Europe. Lowland peat bog in England covers less than one tenth of its original 38,000 hectares. It provides a unique living habit for rare insects, plant species and birds like the curlew and snipe but as water levels fall the mosses dry out. “We have been working to bring water levels back to where they should be and within two years we have made a big, big difference,” explains Dr. Will Williams, Manager for the ‘Peatlands for People’ project. He calls the peatlands the region’s ‘wetland jewels.’ English Nature’s investment of £1 million has also been used to expand peatland habitats in the picturesque Duddon Valley in south-west Cumbria. The organisation bought a grazed field between two mosses and ripped up drains to create the basic conditions for wildlife management. “The vegetation will change, mosses will start growing again and wetlands birds will return. Recovery will happen but not overnight. It will take decades,” stresses Dr Williams, who chairs the Northwest Biodiversity Forum. He believes wetlands are a major asset for the region and an important biodiversity tool for generating economic activity around sustainable tourism and recreation. A year-long £300,000 study, co-funded by the NWDA, the Environment Agency and English Nature, has now started on the creation of new wetlands complete with visitor facilities. The Solway areas, around Morecambe Bay and West Lancashire and the Liverpool-WarringtonManchester triangle are the likeliest areas for investment.
Thousands of wildlife enthusiasts are flocking to the Lake District to catch another glimpse of the Northwest’s most famous summer visitors – a pair of breeding ospreys who have set up home again overlooking Bassenthwaite Lake to raise more young. The pair flew in from Africa in April to continue the region’s love affair with one of the world’s most spectacular and popular birds. Each year since 2001, the ospreys have hatched chicks from a high-nesting platform in nearby woodland – and 2004 is no exception. The return of the fish-eating bird of prey to Bassenthwaite Lake, a favoured feeding area, after 150 years absence from the North of England, is regarded as one of the region’s most successful biodiversity partnership projects. As sightings of the birds on migration increased, so did the hope that one day the birds would stay and breed. To try and encourage a pair of ospreys to nest the Forestry Commission, Lake District National Park Authority and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) built a nest platform in Wythrop Woods overlooking the lake. Their perseverance paid off in 2001 when one chick was incubated, followed by three more in 2002 and 2003. Such is the phenomenal interest in the birds that the Forestry Commission’s Visitor Centre at Whinlatter Forest Park, near Keswick, was completely rebuilt at a cost of £500,000. The birds are worth their weight in gold to the Lake District economy. In 2003, the 100,000 people who visited Whinlatter and the Dodd Wood viewing area are estimated to have spent £1.7 million on their visits. A survey into the economic value of the famous couple found that that £420,000 could be directly attributed to the ospreys, resulting
in the equivalent of 34 jobs during the four-month breeding season. “To see these wonderful birds flying and feeding over the lake is a truly special experience,” says Bill Kenmir of the Lake District Osprey Project. He hopes the osprey young will return in future years to naturally re-colonise other parts of the Lake District. Other groups are redoubling their efforts to conserve and enhance the region’s wildlife and scenic heritage in the interests of biodiversity, a key indicator of quality of life for the 6.7 million people who live in the Northwest. The Bassenthwaite ospreys, the return of salmon to the River Mersey (now at its cleanest since the Industrial revolution), re-colonisation of river valleys by otters, restoration of peatlands in Cumbria, and the appearance of more wildlife meadows all point to a much healthier natural environment. Although the Northwest has some of the finest scenery and wildlife habitats in Europe – 80 per cent of the coastline is of international importance - regional studies suggest these assets are an undervalued economic resource, a finding that has spurred the Northwest Regional Development Agency, English Nature and partners into action. In the most recent report, The Economic and Regenerative Value of the Natural Environment in the North West (ERVNE), 39 projects were identified of having significant potential for job creation, business investment and image building. All fit firmly within the sustainable development objectives and
targets of the NWDA and the revised Regional Economic Strategy. To implement the whole portfolio of schemes would cost an estimated £208 million. The biggest projects are a 15 ha Bio-Park at Chester Zoo (£43 million) and a Wetlands for Wildlife and People project (£23 million). It is estimated the 39 ERVNE schemes would create over 2,000 jobs, lead to 1,600 hectares of new woodland and other habitats being created, and 1,000 hectares of brownfield land being reclaimed. A Natural Economy Steering Group, led by Dr Will Williams of English Nature, is now engaged in prioritising action over the next five years to maximise the economic and social benefits of the various projects. Among its members are the NWDA and the Environment Agency. Mark Atherton, the NWDA’s Head of Environment and Sustainable Development, says the group is developing a ‘joinedup’ funding approach that will concentrate NWDA investment and money from EU Objective 1 and 2 programmes and other agencies, on high quality schemes. “It’s not just about delivering projects,” he says. “It’s about changing mindsets and getting people to understand how their projects can feed economic benefits into the region...”
Capital food experience London’s food connoisseurs were given a double helping of the region’s gastronomic excellence when some of the Northwest’s top chefs and speciality producers travelled to the capital to showcase the region’s food heritage and the growing link with tourism.
Putting on the style Guests were entertained in a chic lounge marquee in Manchester Square, London Taste buddies Felicity Goodey and her entourage of top chefs
Organisers hope the two events at the House of Commons and in a chic executive lounge marquee in Manchester Square will widen the market for the region’s artisan foods, and also encourage more visitors to seek out the full flavour of the Northwest. Parliamentarians were the first to tuck into the region’s signature dishes during a 10-day showcasing initiative by North West Fine Foods, spearheaded by Nigel Haworth, chef-patron of Michelin-starred Northcote Manor, near Blackburn, and a passionate apostle of regional produce. He devised menus to feed 64,000 diners at the House of Commons’ five restaurants, enabling MPs to feast on favourites like Lancashire hotpot, Southport potted shrimps, Goosnargh chicken, black pudding, Cumbrian sticky toffee pudding and Lancashire and Cheshire cheeses. MPs, food writers and buyers mingled with over 20 local producers at a series of first day food tastings. Cumbrian producer Richard Woodall, whose Waberthwaite air-dried hams have been favourably compared with Parma ham, was one of those flying the flag for the Northwest. His family have been producing hams for eight generations. Guests slaked their thirst with drinks from Cartmel Valley Springs (Willow Water), of Grange-over-Sands, and apple juice from Eddisbury Fruit Farm in Kelsall, Cheshire, which produces 70,000 bottles of juice and cider a year from fruit harvested from the farm’s orchards.
Catherine Smith, Chief Executive of North West Fine Foods, says the region is producing some of the most outstanding food in the country. “We hope promotions like the House of Commons event will not only enable us to create a long-term sustainable market for these products, but also to use the industry to attract visitors from all over the world to the region.” Regional chefs are the most vociferous supporters of local quality produce, a virtue that the Northwest Regional Development Agency was able to put to good use at an imaginative ‘Indulge Your Good Taste’ showcase event for London-based media folk and food gurus. Over 140 guests thronged a stylish marquee - located appropriately in Manchester Square - to sample a feast of the Northwest’s uniquely diverse foods, prepared by Preston-based Heathcotes, another champion of the region’s culinary excellence.
“Food is one of the vital ingredients for successful tourism.” Lending their support for the evening were four of the region’s most creative chefs - Marc Verite of the Warehouse Brasserie, Merseyside; Simon Rogan, Northwest ‘Newcomer of the Year’ of L’E’nclume, Cumbria; Northwest ‘Chef of the Year’ Robert Kisby, of Le Mont, Manchester’ and Lancashire’s Nigel Haworth. Their presence, and the strong images of food and landscape decorating the marquee, reinforced the message that the Northwest is becoming a more mouth-watering visitor experience. Felicity Goodey, Chair of the Northwest Tourism Forum, highlighted the diverse range of “top-notch restaurants and superb chefs” to be found in the region. “Food,” she told guests, “is one of the vital ingredients for successful tourism and plays an ever-important role in defining the Northwest’s identity.”
Barrow fights back
Further job losses at Barrow shipyard have underlined the vital importance of the huge and unprecedented efforts now being made to regenerate the town.
£4.8million from the NWDA to finance the construction of a contact centre building
The latest cuts have been almost inevitable since owners BAE Systems decided that, in future, the yard would only build submarines. That announcement, in January 2003, was accompanied by 600 redundancies. On April 2nd this year came the news that 720 more jobs would go by July, when work is completed on Landing Platform Dock ship Bulwark, the last surface vessel on the order books. The yard is now working on two Astute nuclear-powered submarines and hopes to build six more. This should guarantee long-term employment for 2,000 to 2,500 workers - a far cry from the 13,300 employed when the Cold War went into a permanent thaw in 1990. In those days, many never worked again once they had left the gates for the last time. But now the age profile is much younger and redundant workers will leave the town if they cannot find new jobs locally. One in six of the 600 who lost their jobs in 2003 are still looking for work. The town’s Jobcentre says that 70 of them are still claiming Jobseekers Allowance, 20 are on incapacity benefit and a further 20 non-claimants are on their books. A Barrow Task Force, consisting of local authorities and regeneration agencies, was set up in early 2003 to lobby for assistance. The Northwest Regional Development Agency responded and is due to pump around £32 million into the town over the next three years. Some of this money will underpin the £100 million masterplan for Barrow’s underused docks. Work starts in September on a £700,000 survey of the site, which is earmarked for a marina, housing, a water sports centre and a cruise liner terminal. When urban regeneration company, West Lakes Renaissance, held a public exhibition of the docks proposals last year, nearly 100 per cent of visitors said they were in favour. Barrow Borough Council and economic development agency Furness Enterprise have argued strongly that tourism and leisure alone cannot replace the economic value of lost industrial jobs. The docks development includes an innovations park which will house new businesses and the NWDA is also financing the construction of a £4.8 million contact centre building, capable of holding 500 employees. This is rated as the most competitively priced speculative building of its kind currently on offer anywhere in the UK. The NWDA is also giving direct assistance to the shipyard, including a £248,000 grant towards a new testing facility, and £435,000 towards upskilling 900 BAE employees. Steve Broomhead, NWDA Chief Executive, says: “All of our partners recognise the fundamental challenges which Barrow faces and we are all committed to playing a full part in tackling these.” Judging by the property market at least, confidence in Barrow’s future remains high. News of the docks development has attracted a new wave of speculative investors to the town and prices of some of the cheapest houses doubled in the first three months of this year. Local estate agent Ron Stephenson was among those taken by surprise. He says: “In January one terraced house for sale was viewed by 90 people. That is the most in my 25 years in the business.”
A new grant assistance scheme has been launched to support business investment in Assisted Areas. Selective Finance for Investment in England (SFIE) replaces Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) and Enterprise Grants (EG) in England and is being delivered by the NWDA. The grant maximum in certain areas has been raised from £75,000 to £100,000... Phil Barton, former Regional Director of Groundwork, has been appointed Director of RENEW, the Northwest’s regional Centre of Regeneration Excellence. Based at the Tea Factory, Liverpool, he will steer the development of four key services - a Knowledge Hub, a Risk Incubator, an Activity Showcase and a Leadership Academy... The NWDA is providing £237,000 towards a programme of action to regenerate the towns of Windermere, Bowness and Ambleside through the Lakes Market Town Initiative. Proposals include replacement of the bandstand at The Glebe in Bowness and enhancements to the Ambleside marketplace... Members of the public can register their comments on the updated Regional Planning Guidance (RPG) for the Northwest until July 12th. The amended review identifies three broad areas of search for Strategic Regional Parks – the Northwest coast, the Mersey Belt and East Lancashire. A Public Examination of the RPG will be held in November...
ASP programme forges ahead
Major improvements to business support services and workforce development are gathering pace as the Northwest Regional Development Agency and its partners forge ahead with a fresh approach to raising productivity levels and economic competitiveness. Since it was established in 2003, the Alliance for Skills and Productivity (ASP) has developed a number of initiatives to stimulate enterprise, raise awareness of business support and sharpen the responsiveness of business support and training providers to customer needs. Projects include a comprehensive leadership and management programme aimed at small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), led by Lancaster University Management School, with significant funding support from the NWDA. The programme will develop a regional best practice model. A catalogue of business products and services is also being developed to provide Northwest companies with a compendium of information relating to business support and performance services. It includes sources of help for potential entrepreneurs setting up new ventures. The catalogue - and its on-line version - will include a feedback facility so businesses can report back on the usefulness of products and services available.
ASP was set up after the Government selected the NWDA to pilot an innovative approach to the funding, coordination and delivery of business support services and learning and skills support, which entailed integrating the strengths of local Business Links with those of the region’s Learning and Skills Councils. Chris Rogan, Director of ASP, says the partnership is making good progress towards achieving a challenging set of targets, developed as a result of widespread consultation. He is former Director of Education Partnerships at BAE Systems. ASP is spreading its influence across a wide spectrum of business sectors, education and training, with help being offered to female entrepreneurs, family businesses on Merseyside and the long-term unemployed in Cheshire and Warrington. The ASP is focussing on the availability of a complete business support service for the region to provide employers with straightforward advice and to enable them to have the right skills at the right time and in the right place to succeed in their business.
Spent fuel flask Enterprise and safety go hand-in-hand at BNFL
Remote maintenance Sellafield workforce is highly skilled
Opportunities galore The Northwest Regional Development Agency is forcing the pace in a number of areas to help supply-chain companies in Cumbria and the wider region win a large slice of the £48 billion nuclear decommissioning programme.
Chris Rogan Director of the Alliance for Skills and Productivity (ASP)
It recently provided £250,000 funding to enable West Lakes Renaissance to recruit economic development specialist Rosie Mathisen as the urban regeneration company’s Nuclear Opportunities Manager. Her job will be to ensure that West Cumbria gains maximum benefit from having the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) head office in the area. She has worked for a number of key agencies and has wide experience in enterprise, business growth, training and European programmes. British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) spent £500 million running its Sellafield operation last year. Of this, £183 million went into the national and international supply chain and £38 million was spent with local companies. With the NDA likely to be spending £2 billion annually in the early years of the decommissioning programme, and with Cumbria having 60 per cent of the UK’s nuclear liabilities, “it’s reasonable to assume,” says Mathisen “that a good proportion of that could go into the local supply chain.” Ownership of Sellafield and the UK’s other 19 civil nuclear sites will pass to the NDA from April 2005. BNFL and UKAEA will operate the sites under contract to the Authority and will decommission them according to an agreed timetable. The NWDA and Cumbrian business support agencies have been working with BNFL and UKAEA for many years to develop their contracting strategy and maximise their contract spend with local businesses. Recent activities have included promotion of supplier forums to explain the changes in the industry and to highlight opportunities arising from the decommissioning programme. The Agency has also contributed towards the further development of Westlakes Science Park as a prime location for companies engaged in clean-up contracts. Decommissioning is a massive commercial opportunity for regional supply companies. Estimates put the world-wide nuclear clean-up market at between £400-£600 billion. The dismantling of chemical plants and oil installations if taken into account will add billions more.
The NWDA is taking a number of measures to minimise the effects of 1,000 redundancies at BAE Systems’ factories at Warton and Samlesbury in Lancashire. It has reaffirmed support for a multimillion Aerospace Research Centre, is funding a series of skills programmes and is developing an Aerospace Science Strategy... Thirty-five employees from Chiron Vaccines, Liverpool, have become the first workers to graduate from a major NWDA-funded training programme to raise skills levels in Merseyside’s fast-growing biopharmaceutical industry. Lilly, another industry leader, is investigating best practice delivery as part of the same £940,000 twoyear programme... NWDA Chief Executive Steven Broomhead celebrated national Learning at Work Day on May 20th by joining the crew a Mersey ferry, one of many job swap and learning initiatives carried out by employers and employees across the region to mark the event... Wigan & Leigh College has celebrated the launch of its own ‘Fame Academy’, thanks to funding from the NWDA. The Business Networking Academy (BNA) aims to provide professional training and consultancy services to local businesses with a view to developing budding ‘business stars’...
Biotech research alliance Liverpool’s bio-scientists are working with US medical experts in an unprecedented collaborative research venture to accelerate the development of vaccines and drugs for the treatment of infectious diseases worldwide. A formal agreement with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta puts the university in the forefront of the global fight against diseases like TB, Influenza, AIDS and malaria which take a high toll in developing countries. Early this year, it was announced that university
University bids for academic stardom When Professor Drummond Bone wants to shake off the cares of running one of the UK’s top teaching and research universities he jumps into his Maserati to compete against other sports car drivers on some of Britain’s best-known racing circuits. Back at the University of Liverpool, the Scottish-born Vice-Chancellor is in a race of another kind – the fast pursuit of growth and academic excellence, goals he sees as having important implications for the regional economy. He grabbed the spotlight recently by launching a high profile campaign to attract 100 top academics to boost the university’s global status. Since abandoning traditional recruitment methods in favour of the ‘100 stars’ approach, the university has had 2,000 responses and expects some “very exciting” appointments over the next few months. “We wanted to signal that Liverpool is playing on the world stage,” explains the Vice-Chancellor. “We believe star academics will act as magnets for other star researchers, allowing us to attract a critical mass of world talent into the region.” Many of these ‘stars’ will be drawn to the city by the university’s notable strengths in the life sciences, medicine, electronics and engineering. This in turn should attract companies to feed off campus research. Professor Bone calls it the “spin-in” effect. “I think too much is made of spin-out and not enough of spin-in. Liverpool can have a powerful influence on bringing existing companies into the region because of its expertise in areas such as bio-technology. The interface between electronics and computing is another good example.”
The university is also matching investment of £1.5 million in new academics with a very intensive programme of support for existing staff, a process that should produce further recognition – and income – for its research teams. Liverpool has a rich research pedigree and boasts eight Nobel Laureates. It attracts £80 million annually from collaborative and contract research and is rated the UK’s 10th best Higher Education Institution (HEI) by the Financial Times in terms of its research productivity. ‘Invest, collaborate and grow’ is an often-repeated campus mantra these days, as Liverpool strives to balance its international and regional agendas. Between 2002-08 it will invest £170 million, with the main spending thrust in biological sciences (£25 million), engineering (£27 million) and a library extension (£15 million). Of the 27,000 registered students, 16,500 are studying full-time, 8,000 are engaged on external courses and 2,500 are involved in distance learning. The university is proud of the fact that it has 2,000 students across different time zones involved in its on-line masters programme, one of the most successful on-line Higher Education (HE) ventures in the UK. Liverpool reflects the strong collaborative ethos at work across the region between the public, private and HE sectors. One of the university’s principal partners, the Northwest Regional Development Agency, will
scientists were developing a new drug treatment to combat Plasmodium Falciparum malaria, a deadly form of the disease which kills one to two million people every year. Clinical trials are already under way in Malawi. The new alliance will allow Liverpool researchers shared access to CDC’s Intellectual Property and will give US scientists an opportunity to work closely with university research teams and new biotechnology businesses in the MerseyBio business incubator.
have an input into projects worth £120 million during 2001-06, benefiting 1,000 companies and generating up to 2,000 jobs. The development of Liverpool Science Park is a good example of the university’s growing commitment to the regional economy. Work on Phase One, a £9.5 million Incubator Centre close to Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, is underway and should be completed in 2005. The main Edge Lane site, with its rich broadband infrastructure, will provide a specialist business location for life sciences, new media and IT companies. Under a new joint venture agreement with the NWDA, the whole 42 ha (107 acres) site will be branded under the banner of Liverpool Science Park. “The decision to integrate the Science Park and Liverpool Digital sites allows us to manage the whole venture in a much more coherent way and build synergies into the development,” says Alan Moody, the university’s Director of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. Another project where Liverpool’s cutting-edge research is being transferred into business is the AIMES Centre, a facility that will help companies harness the business potential of advanced internet or ‘grid’ technologies. The facility has been deliberately located off campus in Duke Street to be among the businesses it wants to assist. AIMES is expected to create jobs for 120 grid software specialists and 100 other staff. The NWDA is contributing £3.6 million towards the project’s £16 million
It is the first CDC collaboration of its kind with a foreign university and follows a visit to Liverpool by CDC’s technology transfer technology specialists. “They were impressed by our research infrastructure and commercialisation pipeline and felt we could get new vaccines into production quicker over here than they could in the States,” says Alan Moody, the university’s Director of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. The great motivation, he stressed, was “not profit but public health”.
Sherrington Buildings A dedicated facility for teaching medical students Racing to the top Professor Drummond Bone, Vice-Chancellor Management School The £9 million centre will aid regeneration
costs over four years. “One application would be used to bring clusters of small companies together to operate as a virtual organisation on a plug and play basis, without investing in expensive computer infrastructure,” explains Brian McCaul, the project’s Director of Business Development. A recently-commissioned economic impact study calculated that the university’s presence is worth 5,500 jobs to the region. The research, by Strathclyde University, found that Liverpool was a significant contributor in its own right employing 4,000 people - over half of whom are not academics - and investing £350 million annually in the Northwest. Alan Moody says the university is seeking more partnerships and collaborations to further its regional agenda. “Perhaps Liverpool has been inward-looking in the past but that has changed. It’s become very assertive and determined to make a full contribution to the regional economy.” Companies can access the university’s world-class research, technology and facilities through its Business Gateway service, a single point of entry with dedicated web pages and a team of expert business managers. For further information: www.liv.ac.uk/businessgateway
Port investment stimulates growth
Operators of the Port of Liverpool, one of the region’s main economic drivers, are drawing up a long-term investment programme worth over £100 million to boost the flow of trade, currently at record levels, between the Northwest and global markets. New projects in Mersey Docks and Harbour Company’s (MDHC) planning pipeline include two river-based terminals to accommodate bigger container ships and roll-on, roll-off Irish Sea traffic. MDHC is also an important player in regenerating the Mersey waterfront and is preparing to open the redundant Central Docks with English Partnerships for commercial development. Chief Executive Peter Jones believes the port is one of the region’s most important economic assets. “Our own direct investment in the port over the past five years has been pushing £100 million and both the region and the company are now seeing the benefits of that programme.” Last year the Port of Liverpool handled 31.7 million tonnes of cargo, the highest in its history. Container traffic, a mainstay of the company’s operations, rose 8 per cent against a national average of 2 per cent. Much of the growth came from new feeder services linking Liverpool to hub ports in the Mediterranean and mainland Europe, opening up global shipping networks to Northwest trade transiting the Mersey. MDHC is well advanced in planning the future. It wants to build a new £20 million Ro-Ro river berth on the north side to add more Irish Sea capacity. The first terminal at Twelve Quays, a £32 million project built with £7 million support from the Northwest Regional Development Agency, is virtually full. The company recently acquired some land from the NWDA and intends to expand the Birkenhead facility. “We have gone through a lengthy consents programme for the second river terminal and can now build as soon as the demand is there possibly within two years,” explains Jones. Having the two terminals would provide north and south links to the M6.
Engineering and environmental studies are also underway into a much more ambitious but longerterm project – a proposed new river terminal, costing up to £80 million, which would double the Port’s existing container capacity and accommodate the bulk of ships operating in European waters. The facility would require reclamation of 20 ha (50 acres) of land on the Port boundary but poses no major technical or environmental problems, according to the company. It would be the biggest ever single investment in the Port and over time could add another 250 jobs to Port’s workforce. “It would be a big plus for the region,” observes Jones. MDHC believes improved road and rail links are a key issue in developing the Port’s full potential with the single most important project being a faster connection to the M57 and M58. Acceleration of improvements along the Dock Road into Liverpool would also add to the Port’s operating efficiency. Trucks now can be turned round in less than an hour and ships inside 12 hours. Another Port-related scheme likely to have a direct impact on the Merseyside economy is the extension of the Princess Landing Stage at the Pier Head to accommodate cruise liners. Construction on the Liverpool City Council project could start later this year once funding and State Aid issues have been resolved. MDHC believes there is significant demand for the cruise terminal and would seek to manage it. Fifteen liners are due to call at Liverpool this year including two visits from the QE2. Passengers spend an average of 100 dollars a head when they go ashore. “Mooring a big liner in front of the Three Graces would be magnificent sight,” explained Jones. “There is no other port in the country that could offer a cruise facility of anything like that quality...”
New horizons The footbridge across Princes Dock 1
Majestic visitor Cruise liner Caronia off Liverpool Pier Head
Twelve Princes Dock The smartest address in town
Round the clock Liverpool ContainerTerminal at dusk
Survey reveals feel-good factor Overall perceptions of the Northwest as a place to do business have shown impressive improvements over the past two years, according to new research carried by MORI. Significantly more Britons now associate the region with success. One encouraging find revealed by the bi-annual survey is the strong association local residents feel for the region and their own neighbourhood, village or town, regardless of which county they live in. Most businesses and opinion leaders take a similar line. Those charged with improving the region’s image will take comfort from the positive messages coming out of the research. MORI found, for example, that twice as many businesses based outside the region felt the Northwest has improved rather than got worse as a place to do business (41 per cent compared to 21 per cent).
“This research clearly shows that with united effort we can make a difference.” Peter Mearns NWDA Director of Marketing Northwest companies gave the region a strong vote of confidence by rating it as a better location to do business than other places in the UK, citing good infrastructure and business opportunities as key strengths. That view was endorsed by 50 per cent of UK opinion leaders who highlighted the lower operating and living costs as key advantages. There was also a strong feel good factor about the future with 73 per cent of Northwest businesses expecting the region to become even more attractive to business over the next five years. This represents an improvement of 24 per cent over the last two years. MORI sought the views of over 3,500 regional and UK residents, businesses and opinion leaders to build up a picture of how the region is perceived. The survey was commissioned by the Northwest Regional Development Agency to track progress on developing and marketing the region’s image, a key priority of the Regional Economic Strategy.
Although outdated and negative perceptions persist – the region remains associated with traditional industries and cheap but lowskilled labour - the research does show that people living outside the region are taking a more favourable view of the Northwest. The number of British residents who associate the region with success has risen by 56 per cent since the 2001 survey, whilst 31 per cent fewer people associate it with failure. Northwest residents are also feeling cheerful about where they live and have a strong sense of regional attachment. The majority of both businesses and opinion leaders are proud to be associated with the region. People living inside and outside the Northwest cite the countryside, friendly people and the Lake District as important regional assets. Local residents are more likely to cite shopping as a key strength but are less impressed with the region’s road network. Peter Mearns, NWDA’s Director of Marketing, stressed there is no room for complacency: “Many of the results in this survey are very pleasing. However it is crucial that we continue to build upon what we have already delivered. We still have a great deal to do, but this research clearly shows that with united effort we can make a difference.” The findings are seen as an encouraging endorsement of the tourism campaigns conducted by the NWDA over the last two years. Guidance on promotional activity is provided by the Regional Marketing Forum, a multi-organisation partnership chaired by Brenda Smith. This year’s programme will include further visits to the region by national travel writers and a gardens campaign to highlight the ‘green and pleasant’ nature of the Northwest. Granada is also expected to feature more of the region’s attractive tourism destinations when it screens another series of GoNorthwest.
Fashion NW website launch
Supermodel and style icon Jerry Hall gave guests a whistle stop tour of the Northwest’s latest fashion designers – live from Manchester City Art Gallery exhibition rooms. Jerry was hosting the launch of a new showcase for the region’s fashion and textile industries, a website providing a one-stop resource for UK and international companies looking to discover the region’s creative fashion hub. She presented her own unique guide to the website - www.fashionnw.com - offering a glimpse of emerging talents already attracting attention around the world. They include Bonnie and Clyde, based in Manchester and headed by graphic artist Steph Burnley whose colourful motif T-shirts featured in Transatlantic Express 2003, a fashion showcase held in New York, backed by the Northwest Regional Development Agency. Jerry Hall described it as “a wonderful little T-shirt company” and told Steph her daughter would love them. Also among them is Jason Ansell, who graduated from St Martin’s College last year. He was selected for New Generation funding support at September’s London Fashion Week, and returned to his native Liverpool to design beautiful chiffon evening wear snapped up by Brown’s. Little Black Dress, Zimeon Jones Scarves and Esme Ertekin Shoes also featured in the line-up of the Northwest’s hottest fashion companies, some of whom gave guests a preview of their new autumn/winter collections, launched at the London Fashion Week exhibition. But the site is much more than a list of designers. It aims to offer collaboration between companies and other cluster groups, to promote both the
Model launch Designers preview their autumn/winter collections
sector and the Northwest regionally, nationally and internationally, and to encourage innovation. Its fourth key theme is to identify and publicise best business practice. The new website is hosted by the Northwest Textile Network (NWTexnet), a not-for-profit company which supports the region’s 4,500 textile and fashion companies, who include designer fashion, clothing manufacturers, interiors and high-tech textiles. Wholly funded by the NWDA, textiles is one of 16 key sectors identified by the Agency as having high growth potential. The site will create cluster groups and offer ‘virtual workspaces’ where companies can collaborate on-line as well as connecting them to resources vital to their business. These will include manufacturers, textile suppliers, samplers and workforces, as well as financial and trade advice. Bill Mills, Director of NWTexnet, says: “The Northwest is already home to an exceptional fashion and textile industry and this site will help to establish the region as one of the most attractive locations for aspiring and inspiring young talent. The launch event encapsulated the quality of information, vibrancy and high ambitions represented on the website.” The event, attended by more than 200 guests, also highlighted existing collaborations between the region’s model agencies, photographers and graphic designers. For further information: www.fashionnw.com
A new organisation has been launched to improve the quality and range of visitor attractions and facilities across the region. The Tourism Forum for England’s Northwest, chaired by broadcaster and businesswoman Felicity Goodey, has developed a 10-year vision to make the region one of the most successful tourism destinations in the UK... Marc Etches, Managing Director of Leisure Parcs, the company that runs Blackpool Tower, is heading a new study into the effects that climate change and global warming will have on the Northwest’s £8 billion tourism industry. The research is being funded by DEFRA, the NWDA and the Environment Agency... Seven Northwest tourism businesses won awards at the Excellence in English Tourism Awards 2004 event at Kensington Palace. The Lowry Hotel, Chapel Wharf, Salford won gold in the Large Hotel category and the Imperial War Museum (Large Visitor Attraction) was one of six silver winners... The NWDA has joined Manchester City Council and UK Sport in supporting a bid to stage the 9th FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships in Manchester in 2008. Five countries have submitted formal bid documents and a decision is expected in October...
Ideas for improving the A556 between the M6 and M56 motorways went on display at a series of public exhibitions in Knutsford. The Highways Agency’s 15-year vision includes converting the whole length to a 50 mph dual carriageway and the removal of as many access points as possible... Beacon awards have gone to eight Northwest local authorities for their work in delivering high quality public services. They are Blackburn, Blackpool, Bolton, Halton, Lancashire County, Salford, Wigan and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Services... Surplus NHS sites are being transferred to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to ease housing shortages. The Northwest locations include the Countess of Chester Hospital, Whittingham (Preston), Piccadilly Gardens and Lancaster Moor (Lancaster) and Winwick Farm and Winwick Social Club (Warrington)... Northwest firms were rewarded with extra productivity worth £7.1million as a result of working with the Manufacturing Advisory Service in the past year. Companies assisted by MAS experts have seen on average an increase in their added value of £104,000...
Whitehall despatches Aid to reverse housing decline Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has unveiled an £86 million aid package to reverse decades of housing decline on Merseyside, which has seen house prices plummet and homes abandoned. Early action money on the new Merseyside Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder programme brings the total allocation to £90 million. The new funding is part of a range of measures announced in ‘Making it Happen – the Northern Way’, a strategy to make the North of England as prosperous and economically viable as the rest of England. From now until March 2006, the funding will be spent across low demand areas in Liverpool, Sefton and Wirral to clear 2,700 redundant and poor quality properties; build 1,600 good quality new homes; and provide extra management measures, such as teams of neighbourhood wardens, for over 97,000 houses.
Merseyside CBI Dinner Keynote speaker – John Sunderland, Chairman of Cadbury Schweppes St. George’s Hall, Liverpool
British Olympic Trials & AAA Championships A warm-up for this summer’s Olympic Games Manchester Regional Arena
North West Annual Conference Focusing on the region’s future Brindley Arts Centre, Runcorn
RHS Flower Show The North’s answer to Chelsea Tatton Park, Cheshire
Salford Triathlon ITU World Cup The most important triathlon event ever hosted in the UK Salford Quays
Cumbria for Excellence Awards More ‘Oscars’ for the county’s top tourism businesses Abbey House Hotel, Barrow
Aug 30 - Sep 09
Southport Flower Show Over 30 acres of floral displays and show gardens Victoria Park, Southport
Capital of Culture Day Celebrating the rich cultural life of the city Liverpool
Commonwealth Film Festival Showcasing the best of Commonwealth films Various venues, Manchester
IoD Northwest Director of the Year Awards Sharing in the success of the region’s most dynamic directors Radisson Edwardian, Manchester
Sep 18 - 28 Nov
Liverpool Biennial 2004 Six-week city-wide exhibition of modern art Various venues, Liverpool
NWDA AGM and Annual Conference Looking back on a year of achievement Manchester International Conference Centre
More city growth strategies Manchester and Liverpool are among ten inner-city areas selected for the second phase of the Government’s City Growth Strategies (CGS), a new business-led approach to urban revitalisation, backed by Professor Michael Porter of Harvard University. St Helens is already implementing the scheme as part of the first phase. In Manchester, CGS will be delivered as part of the Knowledge Capital programme whilst in Liverpool the business-led strategy team will aim to capitalise on the momentum of the city’s urban renaissance successes, existing economic growth and European Capital of Culture 2008 status. CGS shifts the regeneration emphasis away from reducing poverty in favour of creating economic advantage and opportunity. PriceWaterhouseCoopers will undertake project management of the second phase in conjunction with the Small Business Service and Professor Porter’s Initiative for a Competitive Inner City.
Phoenix fund allocations Funding of almost £2.5 million from the Small Business Service’s (SBS) ‘Phoenix Challenge Fund’ has been allocated to four projects in the Northwest to boost entrepreneurship in disadvantaged communities. The money will provide continuing support to the burgeoning network of Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs). The largest amount (£962,000) goes to Bolton Business Ventures to extend its community and enterprise activity across the whole of North Manchester. Its thematic focus includes helping more people out of the ‘grey economy’ and providing a holistic package of tailored business support and finance to entrepreneurs who have growth potential but cannot benefit from conventional finance. Other allocations include £785,000 to The Enterprise Fund (part of the Manchester Enterprises Group), £450,000 to Cumbria Asset Reinvestment Trust and £318,000 to Preston Money-Line.
Corporate Venturing Conference Gaining first-hand experience from corporate venturers University of Lancaster
Growing Your Business Sound advice from Digby Jones, Director General CBI Preston NE FC
Other key events July
01 - 31 Liverpool Summer Pops Kings Dock Big Top Arena
3/11/17 Constructing Excellence – Strategic Alliances NWDA Warrington
4 - 11 Manchester Fashion Week Various venues, Manchester
17 Cumberland County Show Carlisle
For further information: www.nwda.co.uk
23 GLS Conference SAS Radisson, ManchesterAirport
The Northwest Regional Development Agency manages all operations from its Headquarters at:
“When I started climbing at the age of 16, I think there were just three climbing shops in the UK, no climbing schools and no climbing magazines. Today there is an indoor climbing wall in just about every city in the country and we are inundated with climbing courses, and places to buy climbing gear. What has not changed is that sense of curiosity, of wonder, of exploration, of physical challenge. They are eternal. But there are changes in the way those feelings are fulfilled. Now there’s a huge choice of adventures, some of which are very commercialised. And there seems to be a need for instant gratification – bungee jumping, descending gorges, activities which are easy and don’t take much training. But I’m pretty sanguine about them because they give people the opportunity of trying something different.
In addition, there are five area offices for the implementation of local activities as follows:
We must discover how farming and tourism can work together.
Sir Chris Loyd Grossman Bonington hashas a lifelong been atinterest the cutting in museums edge of climbing and the forhistoric the last 40 environment. years and is oneisofcurrently the most successful expedition He Chair of the Cultural leaders in the world. Knighted in 1996, he has made Consortium for England’s Northwest and first ascentsdesignate of 20 peaks in the great ranges of Chairman of National Museums the world. Author 15 books, lecturer andof Liverpool. He is aofformer commissioner motivational speaker, he has also taken many the Museums and Galleries Commission lead of roles in theHeritage. voluntary Born sectorinincluding and English Boston, President of theat British Mountaineering Council and educated the London School of and Presidenthe ofbegan the Council for National Parks. Economics, a career in journalism HeLondon has recently been appointed Chancellor of in before moving to television Lancaster and will preside where he University devised, presented, wroteover or his first degreeprogrammes ceremony in 2005. produced including Through The Keyhole, Masterchef, Loyd on Location and The History of British Sculpture.
Thankfully more and more people are interested in the outdoors – the recent Outdoor Show in Birmingham was packed with everybody from babes in papooses to retired people. It’s so important because with obesity on the rise, walking is one of the easiest and best ways of improving your health. Many of those walkers come to the Lake District, where I have seen huge changes since I moved here in 1962. Now more than 24 million people visit the area every year but I think the National Park has responded well to the pressures they create. They have built footpaths of stone which feed into the texture of the Park – some of the best I have seen in the world – to counteract the foot erosion scars caused by huge numbers tramping over the fells. They have tried to manage the increased traffic, providing car parks and shuttle buses. But actually I think cars are a great liberator and we have to live with them. If I want to climb away from a bus route or in the evening when they have stopped running, I have to use the car. The other major change is the decline in agriculture – farming was a vital part of the Lakeland economy in the 1960s, but today the most important economic driver is undoubtedly tourism. We must discover how farming and tourism can work together and one exciting initiative is the International Centre for Upland Studies at Lancaster University which aims to look at the Lake District in a holistic way, balancing the different needs by applying academic research. That balance must include the provision of affordable rented property for young people who cannot afford to buy, and the needs of small businesses operating in areas such as this, using modern communications. I am a perfect example of a freelance working from home with all the advantages of living in the Lake District.”
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Published on Oct 14, 2010