Creating science and business connections in the North West

07 February 2024

Experts from academia, industry and government are set to gather in Liverpool next week to explore scientific opportunities and challenges in the North-West region and build upon some of the excellent initiatives already underway.

The Creating Connections event, convened by the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science, on 14 February 2024 at The Spine, Liverpool, will feature workshops, roundtable discussions on diverse topics including policy, innovation and education, as well as a lunchtime address by the Mayor of Liverpool City Region (LCR), Steve Rotheram.

Mr Rotheram will speak about the work the combined authority has been doing to turbocharge research innovation in the city, including his ambition to invest 5% of LCR GVA (gross value added) on Research and Development by 2030, and how this will drive regional and national economic growth, and create high-quality jobs, improve health and transport and deliver net zero locally.

Other sessions during the day-long event will focus on industry-academia partnerships, both present and future; pandemic-preparedness; the value of open science and innovation; a discussion on the Royal Society’s career development programme for advancing careers and a roundtable discussion on how young professionals can forge connections and shape future innovations with industry partners.

The North-West region is a leading player in UK place-based innovation and is the first place to agree a Partnership and Action Plan as well as a national pilot for Innovate UK’s Launchpad programme.

The region is also home to some of the world’s most influential people in science, health and technology, including Sir Andre Geim FRS, from Manchester, who was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with Konstantin Novoselov for his work on graphene; Professor Brian Cox CBE FRS, a household name professor of particle physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester and The Royal Society’s Professor for Public Engagement in Science; and Professor Janet Hemingway CBE FRS, from Merseyside, an entomologist who, as an undergraduate, was inspired to study how mosquitoes become resistant to insecticide and is now the global leader in the field. Nearly 50 of the Royal Society’s current Fellows come from the region.

Liverpool is a city at the leading edge of innovative public health responses, and with a rich history of tackling emerging infections. During COVID-19 the city of Liverpool’s civic leadership, academic institutions and health infrastructure combined powerfully to develop a city-wide public health research response, which has helped to address the controversial role of mass testing, and determine how to safely reintroduce large public events. Professor Hemingway will be speaking on this topic during a private session at the Creating Connections event.

Liverpool is also home to Sci-Tech Daresbury, a national science and innovation campus and enterprise zone located in the Liverpool City Region and the Knowledge Quarter Liverpool that brings together the city region’s key partners to collaborate in a creative environment and close the economic gap with London and the South-East.

A recent Science and Innovation Audit (SIA) highlighted the Liverpool City Region being home to world class research in infection, materials chemistry and high-performance cognitive computing.

Dame Julie Maxton, executive director of the Royal Society, who will deliver an opening address at the event, said: “Science and technology are essential to delivering the advances that underpin the future prosperity of society. The North-West, comprising 11% of the UK’s population, plays a vital role in this and we are delighted to be able to bring together key players to build on important initiatives and innovations that are already underway in the region. The Royal Society recognises the importance of convening events such as these to not only promote scientific research and innovation in all regions of the UK but to raise awareness of the support the Royal Society can offer.”