Local author and school children launch book to inspire young innovators

Dozens of primary school children helped well-known local author Natalie Reeves Billing launch her new book, designed to inspire the next generation of innovators.

Pupils from Pleasant Street Primary School joined Natalie at The Spine in Knowledge Quarter Liverpool (KQ Liverpool) today to read extracts from the illustrated book, called The Animates – Learning in Liverpool.

It tells the tale of a group of animals – including a panda, sloth, ostrich and mouse – that crash land from space at Liverpool Science Park and have to repair themselves and their ship with the help of local innovators around the KQ Liverpool innovation district.

Written for 6-8-year-olds, the aim is to place copies of the book in every Liverpool City Region primary school. Natalie said, “This has been such a great project to work on. Distilling complex concepts into engaging, fun and palatable stories has been just as insightful for me as for the young readers. We want children everywhere to know that there is a place for them and their specific skills and talents within the innovation sector.”

Emily Robson, Assistant Chief Executive of KQ Liverpool, said, “The Life Sciences Investment Zone plans involve supercharging Liverpool City Region’s economy, creating 8,000 new jobs and saving lives across the world. KQ Liverpool will be at the engine room for those plans and we are keen to show the next generation of innovators the opportunities that exist here.

“Our new book aims to provide a unique way of doing that and, by engaging young children in the ideas of invention and creativity, we hope it allows them to see what their own future might hold.

“It was wonderful to watch the children enjoying the story and see an interest in innovation sparking into life among a new generation of pioneers.”

The Animates – Learning in Liverpool was specially commissioned by KQ Liverpool in partnership with Connected Places Catapult and will also be launched in front of a business audience on Wednesday.

It is part of a major focus on inspiring and training the next generation of local innovators, while retaining more graduates to power the city region’s innovation ambitions.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Executive Director of Investment Dr Aileen Jones said, “These are hugely exciting times for innovation in the Liverpool City Region. Innovation Investment Week will allow us to celebrate and showcase our creativity, entrepreneurship and scientific brilliance.

“We have a new Life Sciences Investment Zone, which like our Freeport, offers significant opportunities to businesses and investors wishing to capitalise on our world-leading innovation capabilities. They also offer massive opportunities to local people through the creation of thousands of high-quality jobs.

“It is vital we give local people the right skills to take advantage of these opportunities. Natalie’s excellent book is sure to fire the imagination of children and inspire some on a creative, innovative and scientific path.”

The book was launched at The Spine which is the northern headquarters of the Royal College of Physicians and is located at Paddington Village, Liverpool City Council’s flagship development site.

The launch ushered in the city region’s first-ever Innovation Investment Week which will showcase the region’s world-leading innovation and billions of pounds of opportunities.

Four days of innovation-themed activity includes a local launch of the city region’s new Life Sciences Investment Zone, a Dragons’ Den style pitching event, a pharma industry conference and the city region’s third Innovation Investment Summit.

Evening events include a Pint of Science – which features talks by more than 40 academics from the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and Liverpool School of Tropical Science (LSTM) at pubs in the city centre and Wirral. Tomorrow (Tuesday), University of Liverpool Professor Matt Rosseinsky – recipient of last year’s Eni Award which is often described as the Nobel Prize of energy research – will address a special audience at the Materials Innovation Factory.

Experts from around the world will gather for the day-long Innovation Investment Summit at LJMU’s Student Life building on Thursday, 16 May.

Liverpool City Region has more than £725m of live innovation projects with a further £1.9bn in development. The Life Sciences Investment Zone, which started operating in April, is expected to attract an extra £800m of public and private sector investment and create 8,000 new jobs and is in addition to AstraZeneca’s £450m investment in its Speke facility announced in March.

The city region is one of only three places in the UK to benefit from both Investment Zone and Freeport status.

Mayor Steve Rotheram has set a target to invest 5% of the city region’s economy each year on R&D by 2030 – nearly double the UK target. Achieving the 5% target would deliver an estimated £41.7bn of gross economic benefit, a 10% increase in productivity and 44,000 new jobs.

The city region is a world leader in infection prevention and control, materials science and AI solutions and emerging technologies with growing strengths in net-zero and maritime innovation.

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