LCR announced as the UK’s second Investment Zone

  • The Liverpool City Region has been unveiled as England’s second Investment Zone, focused on Life Sciences 
  • Sites in Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton and St Helens could be set to benefit from £310m of private investment and more than 4,000 new jobs over the next five years. 
  • An initial £10m from a US pharmaceutical company to enhance its capabilities in manufacturing a drug used to treat cancers, arthritis and skin conditions 

Communities across the Liverpool City Region could be set to benefit from over 4,000 new jobs and a multi-million-pound investment in the life sciences sector as part of the UK’s second Investment Zone. 

The government has today (26 July 2023) launched England’s second Investment Zone in Liverpool City Region, which could unlock £320 million of private investment and deliver 4,000 jobs, across the Liverpool City Region over the next 5 years. 

An initial £10 million investment will be made by US pharmaceutical manufacturer TriRx, to enhance its capabilities to manufacture monoclonal antibodies, a type of immunotherapy that work by blocking certain diseases from affecting healthy cells and are used to treat numerous types of diseases including cancers, arthritis and skin conditions. 

This investment in the city region’s existing Speke Pharma cluster – home to one of the UK’s leading regions for bioprocessing – is the first step in unlocking a total pipeline up to £320 million of further private funding from a range of investors in the life sciences sector, helping to deliver over 4,000 jobs in the region over the next 5 years. 

Backed by £80 million in government funding, the Investment Zone will benefit from a range of interventions which could include skills, infrastructure and tax reliefs, depending on local circumstances – with the potential to make the Liverpool City Region a pharmaceutical production superpower. 

The health and life sciences sector already contributes an estimated £290m to the Liverpool City Region’s economy every year and Mayor Rotheram, has an ambitious target to invest 5% of its GVA to research and development – almost double the national target. 

Mayor Steve Rotheram, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, regional universities and other local partners will continue to work with the government to co-develop the plans for their Life Sciences Investment Zone, including agreeing priority development sites and specific interventions to drive cluster growth, over the summer, ahead of final confirmation of plans. 

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

“Our area is fortunate to play home to world-leading clusters in life science research and innovation, which support thousands of secure, well-paid jobs and training opportunities for local people. I am incredibly proud of what our region has achieved in the sector – but this is just a down payment on my future ambitions. I want us to go even further and establish our region at the forefront of UK science and innovation.

“With a potential £310m worth of investment and thousands of local jobs on offer, it is clear that this is an opportunity worth exploring. Yet, throughout this process, I have been clear that any investment in our area must go much further than purely financial incentives. I want to use our status as a force for good, to connect our residents up to secure, well-paid jobs and training opportunities, and attract transformational investment into our area.

“To play our part in making that happen, we will be investing 5% of GVA in R&D over the next few years – that is nearly double national targets. Becoming an innovation superpower  might sound like a lofty ambition – but I believe that if anywhere has the potential to achieve it, then it’s the Liverpool City Region.”

Mark Proctor, AstraZeneca Site Lead for Speke said: 

“AstraZeneca welcomes the establishment of the Liverpool City Region Investment Zone focussed on life sciences, which has the potential to attract more businesses to the region’s already thriving medicine development and manufacturing cluster.

We employ 400 people at our site in Speke to manufacture our intranasal influenza vaccine, used in the UK for the child and adolescent immunisation programme and exported to markets around the world.

The site has the potential to expand into new technology platforms for vaccines and we look forward to working with the Liverpool City Region to identify opportunities to develop these capabilities in the coming years.”

Tim Tyson, Chairman and CEO of TriRx, said: 

“We are delighted to be expanding our capability in this critical immunotherapy area, to become a worldwide centre of technical excellence located in the UK in the monoclonal antibody development and manufacturing field to serve the human and animal pharmaceutical markets”.

The Liverpool City Region Life Sciences Investment Zone will be developed alongside the city region’s freeport, which became operational earlier this year. 

By grouping high-productivity and innovative businesses close together, the freeport can play a role in the region’s work to tackle the underlying weaknesses in the local job market such as productivity, pay and job security. 

The region’s leaders have chosen to pursue businesses and industries that align with the values and priorities of the Combined Authority. These include innovation in advanced manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and green energy – with a particular focus on the region’s target to be net zero carbon by 2040 at the latest and protections in place for both environmental standards and workers’ rights. 

Liverpool led way in reopening big cultural events

Liverpool researchers have authored a new study detailing definitive population-based evidence of risks of Covid-19 transmission around the early reopening of mass cultural events before restrictions were lifted.

Liverpool City Region hosted the world’s first regional cluster of experimental reopening of mass cultural events after Covid lockdowns as part of the UK Events Research Programme (ERP), including a business festival, two nightclubs (Circus’ First Dance) and a music festival (the Sefton Park Pilot).

All ticketholders were required to take a lateral flow test ahead of the events – a negative test would allow them access. Attendees were encouraged to take a PCR test on the day of the event, and a second one five days later, and gave consent for their routine NHS Covid testing data to be linked.

The analysis, published today (23 June 2023) in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, finds that of 12,256 individuals attending one or more events over 5 days, there were just 15 linked cases detected through research, public health and clinical testing using population-wide linked data.

Half of the cases were likely primary or secondary, reflecting transmission no higher than the background rate at the time, in contrast to a concurrent outbreak of more than 50 linked cases associated with a local swimming pool.

The key strengths of the study are its population-wide design and the realistic way the events were run. The Liverpool City Region was the first region in the world to introduce voluntary open-access asymptomatic testing, and used real-time linked data systems to study patterns of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and coordinate public health responses from November 2020 through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University of Liverpool’s Professor Iain Buchan, Principal Investigator for the Events Research Programme in Liverpool, said:

“Around the May Bank Holiday of 2021, the Liverpool City Region ran the world’s first experimental reopening of a realistic set of mass cultural events after COVID-lockdowns. We studied the feasibility and effects of risk-mitigations including supervised self-testing, contact-tracing and joint communications between event organisers and public health teams. The events were designed to be realistic, so mask-wearing was not compulsory. Out of 12,256 eventgoers there were 15 event-linked cases detected through research and routine NHS testing – no greater than background rates, which were low then – just before the Delta variant surged. The same surveillance system detected over 50 cases linked to a swimming pool in the area at the time, which did not have pre-attendance testing.”

He added:

“This public health initiative was a response to the social development and mental health needs of young people, who were last to be vaccinated, and among whom mental health referrals were rising. It was also a response to rising unemployment in the events and hospitality sector, and the importance of this sector for social wellbeing. Future pandemic recovery might take greater advantage of digital links between ticketing, events management, and public health systems, including testing and risk communications.”

The live links between different data sources, including events ticketing and public health testing were built by the Liverpool City Region Civic Data Cooperative (CDC), which is funded by Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, and hosted by the University of Liverpool. The CDC is the UK’s first Civic Data Cooperative and was launched just before the COVID-19 pandemic to mobilise health-related data across the city region to improve the health and wellbeing of its residents.

Director of Culture Liverpool Claire McColgan CBE, said: 

“The Events Research Programme remains one of the most challenging projects I have ever been involved with and one that I’m incredibly proud of. At a time when restrictions were in place, we couldn’t mix indoors with family and friends, and mask wearing was the norm – Liverpool stepped up to be the focal point of a pilot project which would help shape national policy and breathe life back into the culture and leisure sector.

“This industry represents more than half of our local economy and it was in our interests to do everything we could to start to bring a sense of normality back. The eyes of the world were on us as we blazed the trail, and worked around the clock with the University, Government and event organisers to make each activity a safety success, and help unlock live events for the rest of the country.  And in terms of legacy, our learning from those projects has been invaluable, shaping how we now deliver major events, such as the highly-acclaimed Eurovision host city programme, and as a result are regarded as an exemplar of best practice in this field.”

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

“Being the first region in the country to reopen its hospitality and events sector in the midst of a global pandemic was no mean feat, yet we knew it was essential one – not only for our economic recovery, but for our collective wellbeing.

“While the rest of the world watched on, we worked with our world-leading scientists, researchers and our ethical Civic Data Cooperative, to safely reopen our visitor economy to the public. Few areas can claim to have made a bigger impact on global health than the Liverpool City Region – and it’s a legacy that we’re proud to be continuing today.”

Click here to read the full paper.

(Image credit: Blossoms Perform / Liverpool City Council)

Our work experience week at KQ Liverpool

Last week, Year 12 students Anthony, Harvey and Kostas undertook a week’s work experience with the KQ Liverpool team, and they have shared some insight into their time with us in the below blog:

Tell us a bit about yourself

  • Anthony: I have just come to the end of my first year of Sixth Form and I am studying Information Technology, Business Studies and Digital Media.
  • Harvey: I’m currently in Year 12 studying Business, IT and Drama.
  • Kostas: I have just come to the end of my first year in Sixth Form, and have been studying A Level Maths, Physics, Business and Religious Studies.

What have you been up to this week?

  • Anthony: This week we have been working as a Project Manager with Knowledge Quarter Liverpool. We have done various activities ranging from attending the ‘summer social’ event, to helping analyse potential improvements on a shuttle bus project encouraging travel to Paddington Village from Lime Street Train Station. 
  • Harvey: We visited the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and were given a tour around their Snakebite Research Centre, which has 400 of the most poisonous snakes, and were given an insight of how they act and also what types of poison are in the snakes. It was amazing to see some of the snakes up close and look at the little details of their scales and patterns on their bodies. We also made a TikTok about them.
  • Kostas:  We were out of the office practically everyday, doing something different and interesting each time showing that not all places of work need to be repetitive and tiring.

What has been a highlight for you?

  • Kostas: In terms of a particular thing that we did, the visit to Elida Beauty was really informative. As well as having a tour around the building and seeing how many of the products are made and tested, we had a talk with Alana Cox (Senior Scale Up Engineer) who gave us some amazing advice on how to stand out when it comes to CV writing and interviews. She also encouraged the use of LinkedIn which made us go and complete our profiles and make some connections.
  • Anthony: The realistic feeling of actually working in this job role has been a great experience for me as I have never really worked a role like this, and it has made me think deeper into wanting to potentially do this job or any other similar jobs like this in the future. 
  • Harvey: My highlight of the week has been making different connections and finding new jobs that I didn’t even know existed, as this gave me a wider range of options. I was also given information on how to improve my interview skills and also CVs. This was my highlight as it expanded my knowledge within different industries while also allowing me to expand my horizons and give better answers when it comes to interviews, while being able to write better and improved CVs.  

What have you learnt about Knowledge Quarter Liverpool?

  • Kostas: There is so much I did not know about the KQ before, like the fact it is an innovation district and a driver for innovation all over Liverpool. Some of the businesses they work with have some of the most exciting new projects and research.
  • Anthony: The Liverpool Knowledge Quarter is a hub of innovation and education located in the heart of Liverpool. The area is a vibrant and exciting place to be, with a range of cultural and social events taking place throughout the year. Whether you’re a student, a researcher, or an entrepreneur, there’s something for everyone in the Liverpool Knowledge Quarter.
  • Harvey: I have learnt that there’s a lot more to it that meets the eye. For example, there are multiple companies involved with KQ Liverpool and there’s a lot more opportunities than I once thought.

What advice would you give for other students going on work experience?

  • Anthony: Ask as many questions as possible to help you understand the pathway of a job role which will help you in the future, because if you end up wanting to do a similar job to your work experience, you will be prepared with what you need to do to meet the requirements of this job role. Also, try to make a good impression with employers in case they see you have skills and think you can undertake this job, as you may even get an offer to work and additional amount of time with the company.
  • Kostas: My advice for other students going on work experience is to make the most of all the opportunities given to you, like when you go out and meet people in the world of business make sure to be friendly and socialise with them, connect with them on LinkedIn to get access to even more opportunities in the future. I would also say to take the experience and reflect on it, think about what you liked and keep a mental note that this is something you would like to do in the future and if you did not like something keep that in mind too, it will all help narrow down a career that you enjoy later in life.
  • Harvey: I would also advise making connections with people during the work experience as this can also help you going forward with future jobs, as they may know a lot about an industry you are looking to go in and be able to lead you in the right direction. Also just have fun, as you won’t take away from the experience as much as you would if you weren’t enjoying it.

£6.9M funding to better understand child mental health

Further funding to enhance the flagship birth cohort study Children Growing Up in Liverpool (C-GULL), which opened this spring, has been announced today (4 July 2023).

The new ‘Microbes, Milk, Mental Health and Me’ (4M) strand, supported by £6.9M funding from the Wellcome Trust, seeks to better understand the early-life origins of mental health conditions.

Poor mental health is a growing public health challenge, particularly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and yet there is still much to be learned about their early-life origins. Compelling evidence suggests that gut microbial colonization, strongly influenced by breastmilk, impacts neurodevelopment and mental well-being, but more research is needed to fully understand the underlying mechanisms.

This funding will enable the collection of additional bio-samples for the diverse birth cohort, including state-of-the-art gut microbiota and breastmilk profiling. Researchers will utilize large-scale genomic and epidemiological data to perform experiments, discover new biological insights, and carry out epidemiology and translational science. They will also establish an internationally unique archive of paired bio-samples from mothers and babies and identify keystone bacteria and milk constituents that influence neurodevelopment and mental health.

The findings from this study will inform new methods for preventing and treating adverse mental health conditions in children. The Children Growing Up in Liverpool (C-GULL) program is the first large-scale birth cohort study in the Liverpool City Region and will follow 10,000 first-born Liverpool babies and their families from early in pregnancy through childhood and beyond.

C-GULL is a partnership between The University of Liverpool, The Wellcome Trust, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Liverpool City Council, The Liverpool Women’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and NIHR Clinical Research Network North West Coast. The study will also introduce further collaborations with University College London, The Wellcome Sanger Institute, and the University of Manitoba.

“The Children Growing Up in Liverpool (C-GULL) study represents a unique opportunity to explore the complex interplay between early-life exposures, gut microbiota and mental health,” said Professor Anthony Hollander from The University of Liverpool.

“We are thrilled to receive this additional funding from The Wellcome Trust which will allow us to further advance our understanding of how we can improve the mental health of children.”

Dr Catherine Sebastian, Head of Evidence for Mental Health at The Wellcome Trust, said:

“Poor mental health is increasing in children and young people, and we need to understand more about how these problems develop to better tackle this public health challenge. The 4M strand of C-GULL will generate important new insights into the relationship between gut microbes, breast milk, and mental health during child development, and will provide a foundation for future research in this field.”

The official opening of the C-GULL research centre will take place later this month in the academic unit at The Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

Participants and prospective participants can find more information on the study at the patient-facing website: