Sensor City

In January 2014, The Department of Business Innovation and skills issued a funding call to higher education institutions in support of a small number of University Enterprise Zones. These were defined as “… specific geographical areas where universities and businesses work together to increase local growth and innovation”. The two principal research universities in Liverpool (Liverpool University and The John Moores University) collaborated in the creation of the Liverpool Science Park together with the City of Liverpool and, together with Professor Leatherbarrow in the LJMU, a proposal for funding a Liverpool UEZ was submitted in March 2014. Analysing the publication of a Local Enterprise Partnership study of manufacturing in the City Region, it was decided to build the application around the creation of a world-leading UEZ in sensor technologies. I was the Principal Investigator on the proposal which was received most enthusiastically by the Liverpool LEP and, more generally the manufacturing sector with large multi-nationals and SMEs providing strong letters of support for the proposal; The Office of The Mayor also pledged £2m in support.

Sensor City
Sensor City Construction

In July 2014 we were informed that we had been successful and that £5m would be made available from BIS in support of the £15m project. The partner universities provided financial support and together with the £5m a second proposal was submitted late in 2015 to the European Social Infrastructure Fund with regional economic growth and job creation in the technology of sensors at its heart. This proposal received strong support from the Liverpool LEP and once again there was strong support from the business community in the City Region.

During this time, there was intensive work undertaken to create an operating model and business case for the UEZ which we now had named Sensor City. Working together as a large team comprising of university academics and administrators, architects, financial consultants and others under the guidance of a project manager, we spent 12 months designing the processes and also the building which was to be on land close to the centre of Liverpool, owned by the LJMU.

Construction began following my departure from the University of Liverpool and it is envisaged that the building will be completed in Q1 2017. It will provide incubator space for start-up companies generated within the Universities and also spin-in enterprises. There will be technical support with electronic and mechanical engineering workshops, meeting rooms and conference facilities.