A ‘Golden Triangle’ linking together internationally significant science and technology clusters could form a key component of the government’s Northern Powerhouse strategy.
A panel at the opening morning of the annual Mipim property conference brought together leading figures in property, infrastructure and tech innovation to discuss the investment opportunities along the Cheshire Science Corridor, which spans a crescent that runs from Chester through Liverpool, Warrington and Manchester.
Cheshire already has a strong science and technology base in the key sectors of the life sciences, nuclear, energy, environmental technologies and advanced manufacturing, and benefits from the presence of two world-class universities in Manchester and Liverpool.
The area was awarded Enterprise Zone (EZ) status last year, allowing its Local Enterprise Partnership to retain an estimated £200m in business rates over the next 25 years to reinvest in development. It is estimated the Enterprise Zone will generate 20,000 new jobs and 500 new businesses for the region.
Coupled with the linking of HS2 to a planned new rail hub at Crewe by 2027, it is predicted that the Corridor could form the basis of a new ‘Golden Triangle’ in the North West, which would complement the South’s existing science and tech Golden Triangle between London, Oxford and Cambridge.
The government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper published in January identified science parks like those found along Cheshire’s Science Corridor as vital institutions in supporting innovation. Coupled with the much-heralded Northern Powerhouse initiative aimed at rebalancing growth towards the regions, the Cheshire Science Corridor is likely to play a key role in the Government’s growth strategy.
Michael O’Connor, Partner and National Head of Infrastructure, Projects, and Energy Group at Addleshaw Goddard said:
“Cheshire is already a hive of science, industry and tech activity but the opportunities on offer are substantial. Without a doubt, the building blocks are in place for the Cheshire Science Corridor to both rival and complement the South’s own London-Cambridge-Oxford Golden Triangle.
“The area can count on an array of factors that make it ideal for tech and science firms: the presence of institutions such as Birchwood Park, the home of British nuclear fuel, and the world-class Alderley Park life sciences research hub; the ability to feed off of the pipeline of skills from the world class universities in the area; and superb connectivity for those who want to live either in bustling city centres or charming market towns.”
Victoria Merton, director of corporate affairs at The Peel Group, developers of Protos energy hub, said:
“The Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone is a vote of confidence in Cheshire’s ability to deliver world-class development centred on science. We’re proud that Protos – our destination for energy, industry and innovation – will be a key driver for growth in this sector and will form part of the vision to create an internationally-recognised hub for skills and innovative industries.
“Protos is already transforming the region’s industrial landscape, with new energy-generating facilities in construction and site infrastructure well advanced. It will become a strategic cluster of complementary businesses encompassing energy intensive industries, associated supply chains and energy generation to provide secure, low carbon and low cost energy to occupiers.”
Thomas Renn, managing director at owner-operater of UK science parks Manchester Science Partnerships, said:
“Innovation is by its very nature challenging. Complex industries like biotech need researchers, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, business executives, and service providers to collaborate well. That formula is driving success at Alderley Park, which is the largest single site bio and life science campus in the UK and is justly considered a micro-cluster in its own right, with 150 businesses operating across 1.4m sq ft of lab and office space. It’s the same model that’s long flourished in innovation hubs like Greater Boston.”