The England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020, has awarded £5 million to support the development of a hi-tech sensor hub in Liverpool city centre.
The £15 million ‘Sensor City’ facility, located in the Copperas Hill redevelopment area and part of the University Enterprise Zone, is a joint venture between the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). It aims to create 1,000 jobs and house 300 new businesses over a 10 year period in a bespoke 2,500 sq m building.
The Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) backed project will support companies as they develop and implement novel sensor systems, integrating sensors, firmware and advanced algorithms.
Vice-Chancellor at the University of Liverpool, Professor Janet Beer, said: “The sensor market is growing at more than 10% per year, creating 73,000 jobs in the UK alone. Our universities will provide the entrepreneurial talent to translate innovative ideas from the laboratory to the factory floor, benefitting new and established businesses across the country.”
The UK sensor industry generates £13 billion each year and supports 70,000 jobs, producing £6 billion in exports. Around 1.4 million people in the UK are employed in sensor-aligned professions of which 159,000 are in the North West and 27,000 are in the Liverpool City Region.
LJMU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nigel Weatherill, said: “This joint venture represents a real step change in the way that we are able to combine forces with our colleagues at the University of Liverpool and with partners in the city region.
“I am delighted that we have been able to secure the funding to progress the first stage in this significant initiative to create the physical environment for Sensor City which will be the hub for industrial research, development and commercialisation.”
Sensors are the crucial link between technological devices and the world around them, capturing data on a whole host of areas such as temperature, humidity and pressure. They can be used in everything from home security systems to medical technology and high value manufacturing.
Co-Chair of the ESIF Committee and Chair of the Liverpool City Region LEP, Robert Hough, said: “This ERDF funding is exceptional news for the City Region. Sensor City will provide the necessary platform for the universities to work closely with business and other organisations to share expertise and knowledge that will drive forward innovation on both a local and global scale and create jobs and boost growth for the City Region.”
The Department of Business Innovation and Skills backed the project with a £5 million University Enterprise Zone status award in 2014, which is further supported by the LEP and Liverpool city council.
Co-Chair of the ESIF Committee and leader of Wirral Council, Phil Davies, added: “The EU Programme 2014-2020 was designed by the LEP and local partners to ensure that our economy gets the biggest boost possible, and projects such as Sensor City do just that. Not only will Sensor City support companies working in this field, but it will help in our drive to make the City Region one of the most enterprising economies in the country."
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Patrick Hackett, and Alan Welby, Director of Research and Innovation Services from LJMU, will present the project to delegates at the international real estate show, MIPIM, in France this week.