Mayor pumps extra £3.2m into driving Liverpool City Region innovation

Innovators in the Liverpool City Region have received a major funding boost after Mayor Steve Rotheram unveiled plans to pump an extra £3.2million into local businesses and jobs.

Under the Mayor’s proposals, the city region’s unique innovation investment company, LYVA Labs, will receive additional funding to help innovators across the region to turn great ideas into high-growth businesses and good-quality jobs for local people.

The city region’s Combined Authority approved funding at its meeting on 10 June, enabling LYVA Labs to expand its activity into new sectors, beyond its initial health and life sciences remit.

Speaking about this new funding, Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said, “Our region is home to a thriving ecosystem of innovators who have got the talent, ambition and creativity to rival anywhere else in the world. I want to offer them a helping hand with additional funding that can help them to realise their potential – because when local businesses flourish, the rest of our economy does too.

“I want the Liverpool City Region to develop a global reputation as a place that creates more businesses, attracts greater investment, files more patents – and is ultimately more productive and prosperous. The more we can encourage businesses to tap into their entrepreneurial spirit, the faster we can realise our ambition of becoming an innovation powerhouse.”

As the city region’s dedicated innovation commercialisation vehicle, LYVA Labs will be key to achieving Mayor Rotheram’s ambition to invest 5% of regional GVA on Research and Development (R&D) by 2030 – nearly double the government’s national target.

As part of its drive to boost innovation, the Combined Authority has published its Innovation Prospectus, a multi-billion-pound plan to supercharge the city region’s innovation powerhouse credentials linked to its distinctive world-leading capabilities in materials chemistry, infection control, and AI solutions, plus emerging strengths in net zero.

It has also launched the £2.24m High Growth Innovation Fund to help small businesses innovate, which itself builds on two pilot rounds of the Future Innovation Fund which saw 35 local companies receive support worth £2.1m.

LYVA Labs was initially set up to provide “incubator” services and funding to very early-stage start-up companies in the Liverpool City Region’s health and life sciences sector, which is one of the strongest in the country, involving over £2bn research in infection alone per year.

It recently announced its first funding of £175,000 for Frequasense Ltd to develop technology that rapidly detects sepsis – an infection that affects 245,000 people and is responsible for at least 48,000 deaths in the UK every year.

Lorna Green, CEO of LYVA Labs said, “It’s fantastic to see the LCR Combined Authority and Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram further investing in LYVA Labs, enabling us to recruit four new team members and provide funding for innovative businesses across the Liverpool City Region. We’ve had amazing support from the innovation community for the launch of the Health & Life Sciences Challenge Fund and have already established a strong pipeline for investment. This second phase of funding allows us to work with established businesses across all sectors who want to innovate, and to establish up to twenty new deep tech businesses. The Combined Authority approved an initial £7.5m investment to create LCR Ventures, later rebranded as LYVA Labs, in August 2022, with the intention to allocate a further £3m.”

The additional funding for LYVA Labs is a response to Project Boom, commissioned by the LCR Innovation Board to examine how economic growth could be maximised and accelerated by the distinctive innovation assets of LCR.

This financial boost will enable LYVA Labs to address the three urgent needs identified by the report, namely improving the commercialisation of ideas generated by the city region’s knowledge base; enhancing innovation collaborations between the knowledge base and city region industry; and developing large scale collaborations to exploit the city region’s unique base and capabilities.

LYVA Labs will do this with a four-part programme:

  • Creating a £1m Challenge Fund supporting the establishment of start-ups from the LCR knowledge base.
  • Consultation work to create a portfolio of new high value innovation opportunities linking larger businesses and HEI across a Liverpool City Region.
  • Developing new consortia between established businesses and the knowledge base both by deploying insights and through the provision of grants to fund the development of initial concepts.
  • General support to ensure that initial ideas are supported to access other business support mechanisms within the Liverpool City Region.

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