New children’s book based in KQ Liverpool set to inspire next generation of innovators

Dozens of primary school children helped KQ Liverpool and author Natalie Reeves Billing launch our new book, The Animates – Learning in Liverpool, designed to inspire the next generation of innovators.

Pupils from Pleasant Street Primary School joined us at The Spine building for a reading of the book, which tells the tale of a group of animals – including a panda, sloth, ostrich and mouse – that crash land from space at Liverpool Science Park and have to repair themselves and their ship with the help of local innovators around the KQ Liverpool innovation district.

Written for 6-8-year-olds, the aim is to place copies of the book in every Liverpool City Region primary school.

Natalie Reeves-Billing said:

“This has been such a great project to work on. Distilling complex concepts into engaging, fun and palatable stories has been just as insightful for me as for the young readers.

“We want children everywhere to know that there is a place for them and their specific skills and talents within the innovation sector.”

Emily Robson, Assistant Chief Executive of KQ Liverpool, said:

“The Life Sciences Investment Zone plans involve supercharging Liverpool City Region’s economy, creating 8,000 new jobs and saving lives across the world. KQ Liverpool will be at the engine room for those plans and we are keen to show the next generation of innovators the opportunities that exist here.

“Our new book aims to provide a unique way of doing that and, by engaging young children in the ideas of invention and creativity, we hope it allows them to see what their own future might hold.

“It was wonderful to watch the children enjoying the story and see an interest in innovation sparking into life among a new generation of pioneers.”

The Animates – Learning in Liverpool was specially commissioned by KQ Liverpool in partnership with Connected Places Catapult and will also be launched in front of a business audience on Wednesday.
It is part of a major focus on inspiring and training the next generation of local innovators, while retaining more graduates to power the city region’s innovation ambitions.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Executive Director of Investment, Dr Aileen Jones, said:

“These are hugely exciting times for innovation in the Liverpool City Region. Innovation Investment Week will allow us to celebrate and showcase our creativity, entrepreneurship and scientific brilliance.
“We have a new Life Sciences Investment Zone, which like our Freeport, offers significant opportunities to businesses and investors wishing to capitalise on our world-leading innovation capabilities. They also offer massive opportunities to local people through the creation of thousands of high-quality jobs.
“It is vital we give local people the right skills to take advantage of these opportunities. Natalie’s excellent book is sure to fire the imagination of children and inspire some on a creative, innovative and scientific path.”

The book was launched at The Spine which is the northern headquarters of the Royal College of Physicians and is located at Paddington Village, Liverpool City Council’s flagship development site.

The launch ushered in the city region’s first ever Innovation Investment Week which will showcase the region’s world leading innovation and billions of pounds of opportunities.

Four days of innovation-themed activity includes a local launch of the city region’s new Life Sciences Investment Zone, a Dragons’ Den style pitching event, a pharma industry conference and the city region’s third Innovation Investment Summit.

Evening events include a Pint of Science – which features talks by more than 40 academics from the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and Liverpool School of Tropical Science (LSTM) at pubs in the city centre and Wirral.

On Tuesday, University of Liverpool Professor Matt Rosseinsky – recipient of last year’s Eni Award which is often described as the Nobel Prize of energy research – will address a special audience at the Materials Innovation Factory.

Experts from around the world will gather for the day-long Innovation Investment Summit at LJMU’s Student Life building on Thursday, May 16.

Liverpool City Region has more than £725m of live innovation projects with a further £1.9bn in development. The Life Sciences Investment Zone, which started operating in April, is expected to attract an extra £800m of public and private sector investment and create 8,000 new jobs and is in addition to AstraZeneca’s £450m investment in its Speke facility announced in March.
The city region is one of only three places in the UK to benefit from both Investment Zone and Freeport status.

Mayor Steve Rotheram has set a target to invest 5% of the city region’s economy each year on R&D by 2030 – nearly double the UK target. Achieving the 5% target would deliver an estimated £41.7bn of gross economic benefit, a 10% increase in productivity and 44,000 new jobs.
The city region is a world leader in infection prevention and control, materials science and AI solutions and emerging technologies with growing strengths in net-zero and maritime innovation.

Innovation Investment Week events include:

  • Local launch of the Liverpool City Region Life Sciences Investment Zone, showcasing 21 projects designed to supercharge the sector by creating new hi-tech facilities, providing business and innovation support and training the next generation of talent. The Investment Zone paves the way for £800m of public and private investment and 8,000 new jobs.
  • The third Innovation Investment Summit which will bring together business leaders from around the world to blend global experience with local knowledge to drive the innovation agenda. It will attract investors, entrepreneurs, industry experts, researchers, and
    policymakers from across the UK and internationally and will explore investment prospects in one of the UK’s most dynamic and welcoming regions.
  • A Dragons’ Den style pitching event in which innovative businesses from across the region will take the stage to showcase their groundbreaking ideas to a diverse panel of investors. The May 15 event is organised by LYVA Labs and the Infection Innovation
    Consortium: iiCON on behalf of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
  • The 7th industry led Bionow Pharma Manufacturing Conference. Held in the heart of the city region’s UK-leading Speke Pharma Cluster, the event will cover emerging technologies in manufacturing, innovation in digitalisation, skills for the 21 st Century workforce, technology transfer and investing in the North. Andrew Owen, from the University of Liverpool’s Centre of Excellent for Long-acting Therapeutics (CELT), will be among the speakers at the Growth Platform backed event on May 14.
  • Pint of Science. More than 40 University of Liverpool, LJMU and LSTM scientists, researchers and academics will take to the stage between May 13 – May 15 in venues across Liverpool and Wirral including Leaf, Future Yard, Tempest and the Ship and Mitre. From the surveillance state to how a cow and a spreadsheet could stop the next pandemic, there is something to satisfy everyone’s thirst for knowledge.
  • Images from the book can be found here.

Join KQ Liverpool for the launch of Animates Liverpool

KQ Liverpool is hosting a special launch event for its new science and innovation story based here in the city.

The event will give leaders from local businesses, charities and academia a chance to hear more about Animates; Learning in Liverpool, a tale of a team of seven animal inventors who crash land in the Knowledge Quarter Liverpool innovation district and embark on an adventure to explore the different innovations that will get them back into space.

To book your space at the event, please complete this form.

Animates; Learning in Liverpool is designed to introduce young children to the concept of innovation and inspire them to understand the various science, technology and innovation careers on their doorstep.

Author Natalie Reeves-Billing will give an exclusive reading of the book, created by KQ Liverpool under exclusive licence with Connected Places CatapultThis will be followed by a panel discussion focussed on the importance of innovation skills.

Rachael Stevens, head of partnerships at Knowledge Quarter Liverpool, said:

“Animates Liverpool is a unique way of engaging young children in the ideas of invention and creativity. Knowledge Quarter Liverpool abounds with bright minds making incredible discoveries and we hope the book allows them to see what their own future might hold.

“We look forward to welcoming senior leaders from across the city region to hear more about our book and find out more about our efforts to encourage a spark of innovation in a new generation of pioneers.”

The event takes place on Wednesday 15 May (8.30am – 10.30am) at the Manufacturing Technology Centre at Liverpool Science Park.


£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:

New testing facility targets Liverpool’s health challenges

A specialist unit has opened at the new Royal Liverpool University Hospital which will perform clinical trials aimed at tackling some of the region’s most common diseases. 

The opening of the new Liverpool Clinical Research Facility (CRF) unit follows a £5.3m funding award from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).  

A significant proportion of the local population will benefit from the advanced testing at the CRF, as it will explore new treatments and vaccines for a range of diseases prevalent in Liverpool’s communities. This includes research into cancer and heart disease as well as neurology and neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.  

The old Royal Liverpool University Hospital had previously housed the CRF since 2009, where researchers have been investigating high priority health problems for the Liverpool area. Moving to the state-of-the-art Royal Liverpool University Hospital, which was opened in October 2022, will significantly enhance the Liverpool CRF’s capabilities. 

Key benefits of the new site include increasing the number of beds from 12 to 26 and being one of only two NHS units in England that holds M accreditation, an industry standard benchmark for medical trials.  

The unit has been designed with the team’s research needs in mind and is laid out in a bespoke manner to facilitate medical trials, such as having open bed bays and areas for volunteers to relax. This design means the unit can conduct phase one human trials, which is the first step in testing a new treatment in humans.  

To speed up research, sample handling labs and specialist facilities for procedures including bronchoscopies have been created onsite. Operating in alignment with one of the region’s major NHS hospitals means that the CRF has easy access to relevant experts and medical support without adding to NHS workloads and waiting lists.  

The NIHR Liverpool CRF has worked closely alongside Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LUFHT), which runs the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, since it was first hosted by the Trust. Its achievements in this time have seen it awarded the funding to set up a new site as well as establish partnerships with key regional organisations such as the Infection Innovation Consortium (iiCON), The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre (CCC) NHS Foundation Trust, and the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. 

iiCON acts as a catalyst for the CRF to filter trials in the infection space. Established in 2020, iiCON is a world leading centre for infection innovation and R&D based at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, which works in partnership with Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LUHFT). 

The first phase one clinical trial is currently underway at the new facility in partnership with iiCON and Alderley Park based Infex Therapeutics. This trial will progress a novel therapeutic treatment to treat dangerous multi-drug resistant infections into clinical trials over the next 12 months as part of a programme supported by iiCON. The RESP-X programme targets serious recurrent respiratory infections in patients with damaged lung functions. 

Richard Fitzgerald, Consultant in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics and Director of the CRF at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: 

“The research benefits of the new NIHR Liverpool CRF facility will significantly boost our efforts in tackling a range of local healthcare challenges. Thanks to this work taking place within the Royal Liverpool Hospital, one of the region’s major healthcare hubs, many patients will be able to access some of the most advanced medicines and therapies available. 

“Right now, teams are already hard at work on ground-breaking studies into a number of diseases. This activity is a great testament to the world-class medical research taking place in Liverpool and I’m excited to see what advances are going to be made thanks to our new facility.”  

To increase the pipeline of new trials, iiCON is planning to expand its collaboration with LUFHT and the NIHR Liverpool CRF moving forwards.  

Janet Hemingway, iiCON Director, said: 

“The Liverpool CRF has been at the cutting edge of innovative drug discovery for some time and its site at the new Royal Liverpool Hospital will supercharge the capabilities of this exceptionally talented team. 

“The work that’s underway on Infex’s RESP-X programme illustrates the fantastic collaborations our region is capable of. Bringing together advanced researchers with leading industry specialists and clinical experts is at the heart of iiCON’s mission, as it is vital to delivering the next generation of treatments for infectious diseases.” 

The Liverpool CRF at LUHFT played a key role during the COVID-19 pandemic, by working in partnership with the University of Liverpool and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine to test and develop vital vaccines and medicines. 

CDC Launches Solution-Based Thinking for the Future of Public Services

The Liverpool City Region’s (LCR), Civic Data Cooperative (CDC) has redesigned solution-based thinking for the future of public services through the development of their ‘What’s your problem?’ series.

The Good Business Festival 2022

Liverpool City Region’s festival spirit, that has previously delivered unforgettable global events such as The International Festival for Business, will return in 2022 with The Good Business Festival.

Local tech start-up partners with young musician

The Liverpool tech firm Pulse Systems has partnered with Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) graduate Max Hustwick to create a jingle for the company’s YouTube series.

Sharing best practice and regional insight

Colin Sinclair, CEO of KQ Liverpool and Sciontec Liverpool, and Director of LSP and Sensor City, shares his thoughts on the role of innovation centres, future regional developments and levelling up, at a number of online events.

UKSPA: COVID-19 Update: Lessons from the past, the present and future challenges

Thursday 21st January @ 12-1:15pm

UKSPA’s first webinar of 2021 looked at the lessons learnt from the past nine months and considered the challenges, as well as the opportunities, ahead.

Alongside speakers from The Coalition for a Digital Economy, Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands, Exeter Science Park and Harwell Campus, Colin discussed the impact of the pandemic and the role of innovation centres in a post pandemic world.

Colin explained: “Adaptation is key. Innovation centres have to create pandemic resilient buildings and workspaces of the future, as well as dovetailing their region’s specialisms.”

With overall unemployment figures on the rise as a result of the pandemic, it is key that we continue to push ahead with shovel ready schemes, like HEMISPHERE in KQ Liverpool’s Paddington Village,
in order to create new employment opportunities (both knowledge intensive and supply chain).

The future focus should not just be on building buildings however, but on regional strengths. For Liverpool City Region, this is Health and Life Sciences, which is highly relevant in pandemic resilience and recovery.

Liverpool’s unique value proposition is a city powered by knowledge and fuelled by culture, which is now increasingly driven by health innovation. This focus on health, life sciences and tech, and the depth of our talent pool, will improve health outcomes, drive our economic recovery, and become our future USP.

Innovation centres therefore have a significant role to play in providing an environment where this expertise can thrive, making a real difference to the UK’s recovery and future pandemic defence.

Other key themes discussed during the session included Government support for tech start-ups, innovation culture, and customer wellbeing and mental health.

If you missed the webinar or would like to read all speakers’ presentation slides, please click here


Built Environment Network: Future Development Plans – Science & Innovation Parks

Monday 8th February @ 9:45-11:30am

This event will focus on the ever-growing sector that is science parks and innovation corridors – as the UK continues to be a hub for inward investment, education and new emerging technology.

A number of expert speakers from the realm of science parks and innovation corridors, including Rachael Patterson, Policy and Marketing Manager at Sciontec Liverpool, will come together on this unique panel to discuss their future development ambitions, the state of the market, the role that their facilities will play in a post-Brexit world and how their ongoing projects are key to creating a knowledge-based economy.

Registration link:


Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology: Roundtable on levelling up (R&D funding)

Monday 8th February – PM

At the request of Sir Patrick Vallance and Dame Nancy Rothwell, Colin Sinclair has been invited to join a virtual roundtable discussion, to consider the role that research and innovation activity can play in ‘levelling up’; to reduce economic disparities across the UK and promote equality of opportunity.

This exclusive event will be co-hosted by the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology (CST) and the Industrial Strategy Council (ISC) and will build on the CST’s previous advice to the Prime Minister.

The objective of the roundtable is to consider ‘what works’ in place-based R&D investments, from identifying local strengths, needs and opportunities, to ensuring decision-makers – both local and national – have the information and support to enable effective placed-based R&D decision-making.

Colin plans to raise the opportunity to level up in the North by recognising and promoting Liverpool City Region, Manchester and Cheshire’s strengths in Health and Life Sciences, focusing in particular on what the KQ Liverpool partners are doing on pandemic resilience, including mass testing, vaccine trials and digital health/civic data.

We are honoured to have a voice at this table, and Colin’s valuable input will help to inform the advice given to Government.

This is a private event and not available for public registration.

Knowledge Quarter Liverpool reveals new community referral scheme

Knowledge Quarter Liverpool (KQ Liverpool) has today launched KQ Reward, a community referral scheme providing tiered rewards for successful introductions of new customers to KQ Liverpool.

KQ Base soft landing programme launched to encourage inward investment

A new soft-landing programme, known as KQ Base, has been launched today with the aim of de-risking inward investment.