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Knowledge is power for Liverpool

Thursday, 28 September 2017

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As Liverpool’s Knowledge Quarter looks to position itself as a world leading innovation hub, GVA’s Stephen Cowperthwaite discusses how people, not just the physical real estate, will be key to its success.

On both sides of the River Mersey right now one word you’ll hear time and again is regeneration. The waterfront and immediate surrounding areas are primed for redevelopment, with new residential, retail, leisure and office schemes part of Peel’s Mersey Waters plans, not to mention the proposed new cruise liner and Isle of Man terminals and Everton football stadium, all of which will breathe new life into the area.

The Waterfront is a prime asset for the Liverpool City Region and seeing these developments move forward is fantastic. But redevelopment is taking place right across the city and it is an exciting time as we witness districts growing and evolving.

One area receiving a great deal of publicity is the Knowledge Quarter’s Paddington Village, and rightly so. The 30 acre, £1 billion expansion will breathe new life into the area which is already home to many of the city’s world leading life sciences assets. Delivering additional science, technology, education and health space will build on one of Liverpool’s strengths and help position the city as a major player in the global innovation market. Focussing upon what we are good at has to be the way forward to attracting new investment. It’s not rocket science (quite), but it is Infection, Materials Chemistry, and High Performance Computing & Cognitive Computing!

It is not just about building new commercial developments, but creating a sense of place and real identity for the district. We already have world class assets clustered together in this area but the ambitions of the Knowledge Quarter are to bring them together under one strong and globally identifiable brand whilst also building a community, where people can live, work, play and stay! New residential and leisure offerings centred around landscaped public realm and active frontages will be important, creating spaces that people naturally gravitate towards and enjoy being a part of. It’s about creating a hub where innovators can collaborate, people can mix business with leisure time and feel connected to the space around them. Investment in infrastructure is essential whilst Knowledge Quarter Gateway, including the recently named Circus in the former Lewis’s Department Store, will enhance the visitor experience and link Lime Street and Central Stations.

The ingredients for success for the Knowledge Quarter are already there and the hopes of being a world leading hub are tangible and realistic, but we must also consider speed of delivery. Other UK are also seeking to build strong reputations as centres for science excellence and that’s without considering competition from abroad. But Liverpool is an ambitious city and right now, it is at the heart of a region bursting with opportunities. The Knowledge Quarter provides an opportunity for the leading powers in our city to work in collaboration to capitalise on their expertise and the spirit our people are known for, to create a community of discovery that will push the boundaries of innovation.

When you look at the rapid advancement of the Knowledge Quarter, exciting developments at Liverpool and Wirral Waters, together with the other opportunities in and around Liverpool, you get a sense that these really are exciting times for the City Region.