Liverpool City Region’s first ever innovation investment summit, on 25 May, saw major new initiatives announced to boost capital, back ambitious companies, provide expert advice and enhance business support.
The event brought together 200 experts from science, technology, corporates, tech ventures, investment and government to assess big opportunities for new ideas.
Mayor Steve Rotheram said “innovation is in our DNA” and that the region was world class in infection control research, material sciences and AI solutions – as set out in the recently published innovation prospectus. The Liverpool City Region already had a £3bn R&D pipeline.
The unique event, at the Spine – landmark location of the Royal College of Physicians – was organised by ICAEW North West, Growth Platform, LCR Connect, the Corporate Finance Faculty and the Liverpool Society of Chartered Accountants.
Nigel Walker, a director at Innovate UK, said that his organisation planned to expand its Investor Partnerships programme, in which fast-growing companies can apply for grant funding alongside equity investment by selected venture capital (VC) firms. Innovate UK is also working with Liverpool City Region to reintroduce its Launchpad concept, which would provide funding and business support to SMEs in high-tech clusters across the country.
The faculty’s Shaun Beaney pointed out that if Liverpool City Region captured only a tiny proportion more of the $2trn VC assets under management worldwide, there would be a huge incremental effect on business growth.
Prominent local corporate financier Steve Stuart chaired the first expert panel, which discussed the challenge of attracting more early-stage investment to life sciences and cleantech, in particular. The panel included Professor Janet Hemingway CBE FRS (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene), Dr Jon Hague (Unilever), John Leake (Sci-Tech Daresbury) and John Whaling (Liverpool City Region LEP).
Elliot Street, co-founder and chief executive of Inovus, a St Helens-based developer of surgical training technology that recently raised £5.6m expansion capital, said the company has benefited from the “geographical arbitrage” of the region, including affordable space, talent and high-quality public-sector support.
In the second half of the Summit, Ken Cooper, managing director of venture capital solutions at the British Business Bank, announced plans to launch a second vehicle to follow on from the £500m Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.
A panel chaired by David Petrie, ICAEW’s head of corporate finance, talked about attracting more private equity and venture capital from across the world. It included Dr Vikki Berryman, chief business officer at CageCapture, Mike Fletcher, managing partner of Arete Capital, and Dave Hudson, chief commercial officer of LCR Connect.
Lorna Green, chief executive of LYVA Labs, reported that the innovation fund had just made its first investment - £175,000 into Frequasense, to develop technology that rapidly detects sepsis.
Simon Bolton, professor of innovation at Edge Hill University, announced plans to create a new “investment readiness” hub for early-stage ventures, alongside other organisations.
More than 200 people attended the Summit in person – making it one ICAEW’s biggest face-to-face events of the past three years, one of Institute’s biggest ever outside of London, and the biggest ever co-devised by the Corporate Finance Faculty beyond London in its 25-year history.
The Summit was organised by Shaun Beaney (ICAEW Corporate Finance Faculty), Alex Pilkington (ICAEW North West Region), Steve Stuart (Liverpool City Region LEP PBS Board), and Danielle Carrington (Growth Platform).