University of Liverpool - Driving digital innovation

The University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) led LCR 4.0, an European Research Development Fund-funded programme that has boosted productivity and innovation in the Northwest through industrial digitisation. 

The VEC worked with the local government and BEIS to bring together a consortium of HEI and research council partners in the city region. The scheme provided manufacturing SMEs and their supply chains with access to technical and R&D expertise that accelerated the adoption of new technology and innovation. 

The VEC's place-based approach presents a new paradigm for knowledge exchange and civic engagement that combines local industrial strategy, and SME needs with HEI R&D capability. Both BEIS and the Financial Times cited this new approach as a national exemplar.

The project resulted in 248 new R&D collaborations and over 300 businesses engaging with the HE research base, many for the first time. 71% of those businesses reported getting a product to market faster, and the project fuelled a 43% increase in employment amongst participants. 

The project generated £53m gross value added and is forecast to create 955 jobs within the Liverpool City Region over six years and is seen as key accelerant for the region on its road to spending 2.4% on R&D and mobilising and linking HE research capability and student skills with the regions science and manufacturing businesses.

Following the success of the LCR4.0 programme, the VEC launched two successors. CW4.0 sees the VEC expanding the approach beyond the Liverpool City Region to neighbouring Cheshire and Warrington sub-region.

LCR4: HOLISTIC will deliver the UK's first city region-wide digital supply chain ecosystem. The program will create a network that will offer partners greater business resilience, create opportunities and facilitate innovation in products and services, boosting the attractiveness of the Liverpool city region as a destination for inward investment in a post-covid economy.”

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