Nick Small: The 3Ts for growth
The first ever Liverpool Knowledge Festival ended this weekend.
The Festival was two weeks of events supported by the city's three universities, Liverpool Science Park, economic growth agency Liverpool Vision and the Royal to celebrate Liverpool's knowledge economy.
Not only does Liverpool's knowledge economy contribute £1billion to our economy, but we employ more people in science and technology in the city than in Cambridge.
When I attended Mayor's Knowledge Summit for Business on Friday, Mayor Joe Anderson quoted research from renowned North American urbanist Richard Florida on how the location for high-tech industry has moved from suburban and exurban business parks into the heart of cities. This is an opportunity Liverpool cannot afford to miss. But the key message is that it's technology as part of a wider cultural and societal ecosystem that will drive economic growth in cities. Florida dubs this the 3Ts of economic development - Technology, Talent and Tolerance, each a necessary, but on its own an insufficient ingredient for growth. What cities need for sustained growth, Florida argues, is all three. What strikes me most about this is that by accident or design - it doesn't really matter - Liverpool has reached a tipping point on all three.
Our three universities are at the forefront of world-class academic science and technological research. Whether it's University of Liverpool on life sciences, nanotechnology and materials discovery, Liverpool John Moore's Uuniversity with low carbon technologies, logistics, offshore and marine research and advanced manufacturing or Liverpool Hope University's work on STEM education and dementia, it very clear that the city has been successful in transferring many of these technologies clinically and commercially. We've created from practically a standing start what is now one of Europe's most important commercial knowledge hubs in a City Centre location. The potential impact of the BioCampus - 2m square foot of biobusiness, clinical and research facilities on the edge of the City Centre will, as the Mayor stressed on Friday, help place Liverpool on an international commercial life sciences stage rivalling Boston and Singapore.
But what is often easy to overlook is the work the City Council is doing to attract and retain talent in the city and to celebrate our diversity. This ultimately could be the source of Liverpool's comparable global advantage, as Technology alone will only ever take us so far.
Our universities are sources of Talent. UoL Vice Chancellor Sir Howard Newby's role of the Mayoral Development Corporation will align our universities' agendas with that of the city, making it easier to commercialise innovation. We're making the city a more attractive place to be a graduate, where in the past the universities have perhaps focused only on the student experience. That's why graduate enterprise is a priority for Liverpool Vision's I'm Liverpool, I'm Business start-up programme. It's why the City Council has supported LJMU's Enterprise Fellowships delivered by their Centre for Entrepreneurship and why we've backed Hope's Business Gateway. And it's why we've worked with Liverpool Science Park to offer affordable hot desking facilities in the Graduate Enterprise Centre. Quality of life in our neighbourhoods with safer, cleaner and greener streets and vibrant, varied cultural and leisure opportunities is absolutely vital.
On the third T - Tolerance, the It's Liverpool city branding has diversity at its heart. Linking into this, public-private projects like the Stanley Street Quarter look to boost LGBT-friendly businesses and embedding the city as an LGBT visitor destination. Last Thursday saw the 1578 Investors Summit - to bring more investment from black and minority ethnic entrepreneurs to the Lodge Lane, Smithdown Road, Lawrence Road and Earle Road areas of the city. The City Council has partnered up with Liverpool One's training and skills agency Academy One to offer subsidised sales training in the 1578 area so this part of the city can become Liverpool's first World Host Destination. For the first time perhaps 1578 recognises and looks to building on the cultural diversity of Liverpool 15, 7 and 8. Diversity is no longer part of the problem , as perhaps it was wrongly perceived to be in the past, but part of the solution.
Cillr Nick Small is Liverpool's cabinet member for employment, enterprise and skills, follow him on twitter @cllrnicksmall.