THE RDA MAGAZINE FEB 2007 ISSUE 11
Auto industry delivers model performance
Rebirth of east Manchester
Wind of change
Gearing up for
THE THIRD DEGREE
Windfall for enterprising councils
Auto industry gears up
RDA priorities for government spending
Business support reorganised
Biocentre to develop new medicines
SKILLS AND EDUCATION
Culture campus link to creative careers
University drive to help industry
PEOPLE AND JOBS
Rising confidence in East Manchester
Liverpool builds bright future
Kingsway to conquer property market
QUALITY OF LIFE
Birthday city celebrates
Meeting the climate change challenge
Tourism awards honour role models
People in the region
Getting in touch
‘A dynamic, sustainable
international economy which
competes on the basis of
technology and an excellent
quality of life for all.’
tel: 01925 400 217
visit www.nwda.co.uk &
Introducing East Manchester –
a brave new world of
world-class sporting facilities,
rising educational aspirations
and soon home to the UK’s first
As the countdown continues
to its year as European
Capital of Culture, Liverpool
has begun a programme
of exciting taster events
designed to whet the
appetite for 2008.
THE RDA MAGAZINE FEB 2007 ISSUE 11
WIND OF CHANGE
Through the Northwest Climate
Change Action Plan, the region is
taking a lead nationally in
establishing a sustainable, low-
carbon economy, which should
help it to gain a competitive
advantage in an emerging
important part in Blackpool’s regeneration
masterplan and was a key transformational
action in the Regional Economic Strategy. Our
next steps will be to work hard with our
partners in Blackpool to identify a way forward
for the resort. Our commitment to helping
Blackpool’s continued economic development
must now be a priority.
Elsewhere in the region, the new University
of Cumbria opens its doors to students this
year and will be vital to retaining talent in the
region. Partners have been working hard for a
number of years to build a stronger higher
education framework for Cumbria in
particular, and this year will see the realisation
of the new University.
Finally, Liverpool begins the countdown to
its European Capital of Culture celebrations
with its 800th birthday in 2007. This year’s
celebrations will set a strong precedent for the
cultural programme of 2008. The city’s Capital
of Culture accolade offers a unique opportunity
to showcase both Liverpool and the Northwest
to the UK and overseas and the Agency will be
working closely with the Culture Company to
ensure that we make the most of the economic
benefits it provides.
Now that everyone in the region is working
towards the priorities identified in the Regional
Economic Strategy, we must focus our
attention and our collective investment on
making sure that they happen. These are
exciting times for the Northwest. Let’s ensure
that we seize these opportunities and build a
truly world-beating region.
2007 promises to be a watershed year for
many of the Northwest’s transformational
projects. In January, the BBC confirmed it will
be moving 1,500 jobs from London to Salford in
Greater Manchester. The move is a massive
boost for creative industries in the North of
England. Not only will this create the largest
BBC presence outside of London, it will also
bring together several departments in Salford
as the anchor tenant for mediacity:uk -
employing 15,500 people and adding £200
million every year to the regional economy.
The BBC’s commitment to the region marks
what I am convinced will be a year of key
progress for England’s Northwest. Another
critical project to get underway is the
reorganisation of business support. The
business base in the Northwest is strong, with
a long tradition of innovation and
entrepreneurship. However, if our businesses
are to improve their productivity, embrace
innovation and raise skill levels, it is crucial that
business support is streamlined and simplified.
The new Northwest Business Link service,
which will be introduced in April, will provide a
high-quality, consistent and targeted service
for businesses. Importantly, it will address
their needs and skills gaps whilst also
impacting positively on the regional economy
through encouraging business development
As this edition of 315 goes to print, the
Casino Advisory Panel has just recommended
East Manchester as the location for the UK’s
first regional casino, which is exciting news for
the Northwest. The casino will build on the
area’s ongoing regeneration, with the
economic benefits felt across the whole of the
region, and the Agency will continue to offer its
support for Manchester’s plans.
We are, however, disappointed for Blackpool.
The regional casino would have played an
Since the NWDA was established seven years ago, we’ve learnt a lot about
what really drives economic growth in the Northwest. One of the most
crucial lessons is that we must focus our attention and investment on
transformational projects that have the most impact on our economy.
employing around 2,500 people, many of
whom are engaged in drug manufacture – our
second largest supply facility worldwide. The
Northwest is also an important global base for
marketing and other strategic activities.
So you have a big impact on the
Absolutely. A recent study on the company’s
economic contribution to the UK makes
fascinating reading. Allowing for the indirect
effects of the company’s activities we support
a total of 12,000 full time jobs in the
Northwest, generate a turnover of £2.5 billion,
a GVA of nearly £1.2 billion and employment
income of £410 million. We also spent
£172 million on buying goods and services on
the region. It’s also worth noting that around
£560 million of the company’s overall UK R&D
expenditure of £749 million took place in the
Northwest in 2004.
Alderley Park has a distinguished history of
drug discovery. How did all this come about?
Leaders of ICI Dyestuffs Division in North
Manchester had the bold vision just before the
Second World War to see that there was a
strategic future in pharmaceutical medicines
and that led to the purchase of the former
Stanley estate in 1950 to pursue that aim. But
it was the invention of beta-blockers by the
Nobel Prize winner Sir James Black that
really put the place on the map. Since then we
have developed a string of world-leading
cancer medicines including Nolvadex and
Arimidex which have become gold standard
treatments for breast cancer. Incidentally, it’s
50 years this year since we established our
first R&D lab on the estate at Mereside.
That sounds like a good excuse for a celebration?
Certainly. There’ll be a series of celebratory
events throughout 2007 themed around
science and innovation. We shall be looking to
establish commemorative links with outside
organisations covering science and the arts.
We’ll be marking the occasion with events that
highlight, for example, our 50 years in
Cheshire and a half-century of contributing to
What will be the drivers of success
in the future?
Innovation, collaboration and continued
investment in people and highly competitive,
specialised facilities. We have invested over
£500 million in the Northwest in the last few
years including £60 million on a new cancer
research centre and £58 million on our Centre
for Advanced Lead Discovery where we identify
compounds to create tomorrow’s medicines.
It always frightens me the amount of money
we invest every day but drug discovery is a
costly, high-risk business. AstraZeneca
THE THIRD DEGREE
“IT ALWAYS FRIGHTENS ME
THE AMOUNT OF MONEY WE
INVEST EVERY DAY BUT DRUG
DISCOVERY IS A COSTLY,
AstraZeneca has a strong presence in the
Northwest. How big is the company’s
It’s very significant. Alderley Park is our
biggest Research & Development (R&D)
centre worldwide. Of the 4,500 employed
there, 3,500 are scientists and one in ten of
those has a PhD so it’s a huge repository of
scientific knowledge and expertise. It’s our
largest global discovery centre for cancer but
it’s also forging ahead with research into
infection, cardiovascular and metabolic
diseases and inflammatory illness. Just down
the road in Macclesfield we have another site
Dr John Stageman is a senior executive (Vice-President) at AstraZeneca, a leader in
the global pharmaceuticals industry with strong roots in the Northwest. Based in a
world-class research environment at Alderley Park, Cheshire, he is currently
spearheading the company’s move into the fast-growing biological medicines market.
He is also an influential figure on the Northwest Science Council.
accounts for one third of all private sector
R&D investment in the Northwest and a
quarter of all regional investment in R&D.
What concerns us is the way public research
expenditure in this region lags behind private
investment. It’s completely the reverse in the
south. The government invests a dominant
share of its R&D expenditure in the Golden
Triangle regions – London, Oxford and
Cambridge – with industry the smaller player.
So we are lobbying Whitehall to think carefully
about how to reverse that trend.
Is drug discovery getting easier or harder?
It’s probably more difficult than it used to
be. The easier targets have been discovered.
The pharmaceutical industry is worried about
its productivity because now it’s more costly
and takes longer to develop new medicines.
Some people say it’s also less innovative.
That’s a major challenge for us. One of the
answers is to seek more interaction with
universities and small bio-companies. In the
past we have been more reliant on our own
internal efforts so we are now putting more
effort and resources into externalisation and
creating further links with outside groups.
How can regional institutions participate in
this diversified R&D model?
As a global company we can only justify
entering into collaborative agreements if our
prospective partners are globally competitive.
What Manchester has done under Alan Gilbert
in building a big single university with clear
focus on those key areas where it wants to be
world-class is an excellent example. There has
been a fantastic transformation and we are
now working much more closely with them on
cancer, biomarkers and breaking areas of
science such as systems biology, non-invasive
imaging and bioinformatics. We have also
signed an agreement with the University of
Liverpool to fund the UK’s first professorship
dedicated to obesity research.
Do you share the concerns of the wider
business community about skill shortages and
educational deficiencies in the UK workforce?
We have several serious concerns. Science is
not being portrayed as an attractive career
option as effectively as it should be and
consequently bright young people are going
into the legal profession, finance and the
media. Ultimately, this will have a serious
knock-on effect on UK plc. Here in Cheshire,
for example, we have recruited over 100
Science and Engineering Ambassadors (SEAS)
from our staff to go into local schools to
connect with specialist projects and
communicate their enthusiasm for science to a
young audience. The teaching of chemistry, or
lack of it, is another worry. Alarm bells have
started ringing in the industry over the short-
sighted, cost-driven closure of university
chemistry departments and loudly so over the
restriction of finance for practical chemistry at
degree level. It’s not causing us a problem right
now but we might not be able to say that in five
years time. Finally it is quite clear to me that
our recent expansion into biological medicines
will severely test the availability of relevant
specialists here in the UK.
The company clearly has a strong social
conscience. Where does it stand on
It’s enlightened self-interest to be concerned
about the environment. R&D people tend to be
a rebellious lot and would not come to work
here at Alderley Park unless we were rightly
concerned about reducing our carbon footprint
and recycling our waste. We have rolled out a
number of energy saving, waste reduction and
green transport initiatives in Cheshire and at
other sites. Recently our Cheshire sites won
the ‘Best Environmental Practice’ award at the
Northwest Business Environment Awards
event. We have a strong belief that personal
responsibility and local actions can reap huge
For further information:
Blackpool, East Pennine and Liverpool and
Sefton are among the successful areas to have
secured national government funding to
promote enterprise and inward investment.
The Northwest raised its game in the second
round of the government's Local Enterprise
Growth Initiative (LEGI) funding, winning £54.5
million or 37% of the £157 million on offer from
the government for disadvantaged areas, far
more than any other region.
In Pennine Lancashire, four local authorities
are teaming up with the area's three
professional football clubs in an innovative,
sport-led programme to stimulate employment
and a stronger enterprise culture.
Backed by a £22.3 million windfall from LEGI
the partnership will piggyback on the area’s
soccer heritage and infrastructure to engage
residents who would normally shun mainstream
business support structures.
One approach will be to convert unused space
beneath the stands at Blackburn and Burnley,
two of the clubs supporting the programme, into
sheltered accommodation, or ‘enterprise
havens’, for business start-ups. The other club
involved is Accrington FC.
Only £4 million of the funding package
awarded to the four borough councils, Blackburn
with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn and Pendle,
will go on capital build projects. The rest will be
used to support the growth of small businesses
in an area where self-employment is viewed
as a last resort.
Elsewhere in the region, Liverpool and Sefton,
who submitted a joint bid, were awarded
£21.4 million and Blackpool £10.8 million.
LEGI is a joint ten-year £300 million
programme between the Department for
Communities and Local Government,
HM Treasury and the Department of Trade and
Industry and was first announced in the
Chancellor’s 2005 Budget.
The Northwest Regional Development Agency
(NWDA) worked closely with Government Office
for the North West on formulating the bids,
which reflect the priorities of the Regional
Steven Broomhead, the NWDA’s
Chief Executive, said the awards “will really
make a difference at grass root level
by boosting employment and building
“ONE OF OUR AIMS IS TO MAKE
SURE THAT PEOPLE ARE
BETTER PREPARED FOR
HEAD OF CORPORATE POLICY
US-owned Handleman, a leading supplier
and merchandiser of home
entertainment products, is creating 400
new jobs in Bolton to support an
expansion of its UK operations. The
investment has been secured with
support from NWDA and partners
including Bolton Council.
Canadian firm Organisation Metrics,
which designs and sells software used in
human resources management, is
relocating its global head office to
Liverpool City Centre, with help from the
NWDA, the Merseyside Special
Investment Fund, the Mersey Partnership
and the DTI. The company is expected to
employ 15 staff in its first year.
Two prominent figures from business and
the trade union movement have been
reappointed to the Board of the NWDA for
a further three years. They are Joe Dwek,
former Chief Executive and Executive
Chairman of Bodycote, and Dave McCall,
Regional Secretary of the TGWU and
Chair of the North West TUC.
Rugged Logic, a new
company that is set to
revolutionise the way
cashflow, has received
over half a million
pounds from the Merseyside Special
Investment Fund, the NWDA and
Business Liverpool. It has relocated from
London to Liverpool.
Booths, the oldest family-owned and run
grocery business in Britain, has been
voted one of the world’s top 25 food
heroes by an international academy of
2000 industry experts. The Northwest-
based company achieved an impressive
second place beating all its British
competitors including Harrods and
Fortnum and Masons.
the new licence fee
settlement, the BBC
Trust revealed that the
move to Salford would be affordable and
approved the continuation of contractual
negotiations to deliver the project. The
move is estimated to benefit the regional
economy by £1.5 billion and will bring
with it 1,500 jobs.
The Pennine Lancashire approach builds on
the idea of football grounds as a new form of
‘village hall’ to reach a target population of
150,000, nearly a third of whom have an ethnic
Steve Hoyle, Assistant Director of
Regeneration at Blackburn with Darwen said
a radically different approach was needed to
draw deprived communities into the
“We looked at how we could use football to
convey the enterprise message and talked to
the three clubs who are already engaged in
extensive outreach activities with the same
audience we want to reach.”
Football – the area was the birthplace of the
professional game – is a strong theme of
Pennine Lancashire’s ‘Ten Great Goals’ bid
proposal which was endorsed by Blackburn’s
Manager Mark Hughes.
The other two Northwest LEGI winners have
been equally imaginative in formulating
programmes to change the lives and
prospects of people living in England’s most
Blackpool aims to launch an ‘Enterprise
Island’ competition with the winners qualifying
for ‘Dragons Den’ type guidance and support to
set up their own businesses.
The borough’s portfolio of projects includes an
aviation and construction academy to train
people from the town’s deprived wards for the
estimated 500 new jobs that are likely to be
created by the expansion of Blackpool
Alan Cavill, Head of Corporate Policy and
Development, said that the town once had one of
the highest business start-ups rates outside
London. “There is still a high business formation
rate but an even higher failure rate and one of
our aims is to make sure people are better
prepared for self employment.”
Start-up support will also be directed at
enterprise minded migrants in the town, mainly
from Poland, to help them put down roots in the
area and improve the local economy. Many of
them currently work in the hospitality industry.
Liverpool and Sefton’s programme (SLEGI) is
built around 18 projects within four work
streams – enterprise in young people, enterprise
in adults, unlocking business potential and
inward investment and franchising.
The target area – six core neighbourhoods of
North Liverpool – is characterised by high
unemployment (in some parts 6 out of 10 people
are on work-related benefits). Self-employment
is also low in the area and business density is
less than half of that of the UK.
SLEGI seeks to capitalise on opportunities in
the nearby port area, from the huge physical
regeneration of central Liverpool, the housing
market and from the visitor economy.
Mike Taylor, Chief Executive of Business
Liverpool and Chair of the SLEGI board,
attributed the bid’s success to close
collaboration between the two councils and a
strong partnership with the private sector.
“The core area is seriously lagging behind the
recent resurgence of the Liverpool City Region
economy and there is a real danger that
continuing economic and social problems in
these neighbourhoods will threaten growth
across the sub region.”
For further information:
tel: 01925 400100 www.neighbourhood.gov.uk
When mother of three Sharon Helsby and
husband Kevin joined St. Helens Chamber’s
Entrepreneur Kickstart project they had
no idea they would end up starring as
The couple launched their own exterior
cleaning venture Eyesore Restore after
attending a Chamber meeting about the
advice and support available for business
They have since become role models in a
major advertising campaign across the
borough to promote Kickstart, a core element
of St Helens’ £13.4 million LEGI programme
which has been running since April 2006.
“It was a big step to start our own business
but we have never looked back. We really
enjoy working together and it’s great for our
children to see us making a go of it,”
The Chamber is working on 11 projects to
boost enterprise activity in the borough’s
most deprived wards. They range from
securing a business commitment for every
school in the town to establishing a new-build
graduate greenhouse for occupation by 2008.
Aidan Manley, Head of Regeneration at
St Helens MBC, said it was sensible to let the
Chamber, one of the most successful in the
region, deliver the programme because ”they
speak the language of business and can
provide the most appropriate answers for
people starting up on their own.”
Nearly 380 jobs have been created in the
first six months (against a full year’s target of
450) and 149 new businesses established with
50 women becoming self-employed.
Over 80 businesses have been connected to
broadband and the support team is working
with the University of Liverpool to set up a
trading portal for the town.
For further information:
tel: 01744 742000
Enterprise haven – Blackburn Rovers is
one of three Pennine Lancashire clubs
supporting the LEGI programme
Big step – Sharon Helsby (left) and
husband Kevin enjoy working together
GEARS UPFOR A
Fine trim – finishing touches are
applied to the craftsmen-built seats
With its elegant looks and state-of-the-art engineering, the Bentley is a byword for quality,
a prestige car lovingly designed and built in the Northwest for the last 60 years.
Bentley is also one of the most famous
names in automotive history, with a rich
heritage and high standard of craftsmanship
that comes with an exclusive price tag to
match. Yet production staff at its Crewe factory
are working flat out just to meet demand.
In four years Bentley has seen annual sales
soar from 1,000 to nearly 9,000, thanks to a
family of five new models that include the
sleek Continental GT, its larger four-door
saloon version, a GT convertible and an
upgrade of the top-of-the-range Arnage.
Since it bought the company in 1998,
VW has invested £500 million on factory
infrastructure and developing new models.
Class act – the Continental GT coupe
is a recent addition to the Bentley marque
This investment, says Christine Gaskill,
Member of the Board – Personnel, has
paid dividends, allowing the business to
“Bentley is known around the world as a
manufacturer of prestige motor cars,” she
explains. “Its renaissance in recent years has
turned its Crewe base into a largely
autonomous centre for engineering excellence
and fine craftsmanship which is highly
regarded within the motor industry.”
This emphasis on craftsmanship is
epitomised by the fact that there are only two
robots on the production line. Little surprise
then that since VW acquired the cherished
Bentley marque the workforce has swelled by
40%, to nearly 4,000.
However Bentley is far from the only success
story in a sector that is worth £9 billion a year
to the regional economy.
Leyland Trucks, part of the Paccar Group,
are building over 14,000 vehicles a year at one
of Europe's most advanced truck assembly
facilities, while nearly 130,000 Astra cars and
vans are produced annually at Vauxhall’s
Ellesmere Port facility.
Another important milestone in the region’s
car industry was reached by Merseyside
following the launch of the Freelander 2, which
has started rolling off the production line at
Ford’s Halewood plant, the first time a Land
Rover has been produced outside of the
When Ford acquired Jaguar in 2000 they
invested over £400 million in Halewood,
transforming the production line and introducing
new ‘lean’ manufacturing processes.
As a result, over the last three years the plant
has received the highest score in a worldwide
manufacturing audit of all Ford-owned plants,
setting a global benchmark for the company.
Now a further multi-million pound
investment means the Freelander is being
produced alongside the Jaguar X-type, a move
that has helped secure the long-term future of
the factory and 2,400 jobs.
One of the region’s most progressive
automotive suppliers has demonstrated its
world-class performance by winning one of
the industry’s top accolades.
Performance Springs of Lytham St Annes
beat off strong competition to secure the
first-ever Northwest Automotive Alliance
‘Company of the Year’ award at a ceremony
held at the International Convention
Based at the Queensway Industrial Estate
where it employs over 40 people, the
company is the UK’s leading innovator in the
field of high performance spring technology.
Judges singled out the firm’s
determination to remain at the forefront of
the sector through a combination of
sustained investment in machinery and
“Our industry is extremely competitive and
we have made sure we are in a position
where we can win new business and
continue our expansion into key markets,”
explains Managing Director Steve Williams.
SUPPLIER IS TOP PERFORMER
“Halewood's transformation was one of the
most ambitious ever undertaken in the
automotive industry,” says Thomas Klein, the
plant’s Operations Director.
“Halewood is unique in having two different
brands manufactured on the same production
line and two vehicles of completely different
architecture and no common component - it
demonstrates Halewood's commitment to
efficiency and flexibility."
The key to all these successes, says
Norman Williams, head of the Northwest
Regional Development Agency’s (NWDA)
Automotive Sector Team, has been the
willingness of companies to invest in the
skills of the workforce and in the concept of
“These world-class manufacturers have
taken a close look at their processes and
implemented some outstanding initiatives
around the principles of ‘lean’,” explains
Williams. “It’s not the ‘dark art’ that many
companies think - in the main it’s just a
question of common sense.”
The Northwest is the second most
important automotive region in the UK,
with over 500 companies employing some
As a result it’s become a base for some of
the industry’s leading suppliers and Williams
works closely with partners at the Department
of Trade and Industry, the Manufacturing
Advisory Service (MAS), and Business Links, to
ensure a co-ordinated programme of
assistance for these companies too.
This has enabled suppliers to address a range
of issues including manufacturing processes,
energy costs and inefficiencies in supply chains
– all factors that, if left unchallenged, will affect
the cost of manufacturing.
The NWDA has further invested in the future
of the sector by creating the Northwest
Automotive Alliance (NAA), a cluster
organisation, which champions engineering
excellence and provides a focal point for the
region's automotive sector.
Its industry-led approach has helped more
than a hundred companies improve
performance, launch new products, win new
orders, and upskill their workforce.
Its Chairman, Stuart Heys, Managing Director
of Leyland Trucks says the region has a deep-
rooted tradition in automotives and is well
positioned from an infrastructure point of view.
“But more importantly, the Northwest has
the right people to deliver a well co-ordinated
and concise programme of assistance for
companies with the foresight and the desire to
stay ahead of the global game.”
It’s not just the big multinationals that have
overhauled their production processes.
Accrington-based Piolax Manufacturing UK,
which makes injection moulded components for
the automotive industry has seen its
productivity rise by 75% on the back of a visit by
MAS’s industry-savvy practitioners.
The MAS team highlighted high levels of
‘wasted’ effort and then set to work with the
company on developing lean processing
techniques which have since been rolled out
across the assembly area.
“The actual changes were quite simple and
involved creating storage space for parts and
improving product flow.” says Company
Operations Director, Tony Dewhurst, “but the
impact has been huge.”
For further information:
Northwest Automotive Alliance
tel: 01772 425446
Lean manufacturing – Jaguars and Freelanders
roll off the same production line
RDA PRIORITIES FOR
Regional Development Agencies (RDAs)
across the North are pressing the
government to use the 2007
Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR)
to refocus policy and investment to
reinforce measures that will contribute
to narrowing the £30 billion productivity
gap between the North and London and
the South East.
Under the banner of The Northern Way, the
Northwest Regional Development Agency
(NWDA), Yorkshire Forward and One
NorthEast have collectively submitted a set of
far-reaching proposals to accelerate the drive
for greater prosperity.
They include incentives to encourage
innovation, transport and connectivity
improvements, measures to improve skill
levels, and a Cabinet Committee for the North.
All are designed to secure greater levels of
private investment, particularly in pan-regional
projects and housing.
The NWDA is also working with government
to secure ongoing support for investment
decisions such as the major BBC relocation to
Manchester, the creation of a national nuclear
laboratory with its HQ in the Northwest and the
new University of Cumbria. It also makes a
case for greater simplification of business
The CSR will set government spending plans
for three years from 2008-09. Whitehall
departments have indicated that the pot of
money for economic development is likely to
decrease, with government having large
commitments to meet in healthcare, education
and overseas aid. A final outcome is not
expected before the 2007 Budget.
“We are in a tighter fiscal climate and the
Treasury has indicated it will not entertain any
bids for new money so we must not adopt a
shopping list approach,” explained Patrick
White, the NWDA’s Director of Policy who
coordinated the Northern Way submission and
is leading the CSR input from all nine RDAs.
“We have to focus our efforts on persuading
government to remove the barriers to
economic growth that exist in the North and to
support effective joint working at a local level.
We have to maximise the resources we have
and use them efficiently.”
In its submission the influential partnership
urges the government to focus on six priorities
to build a prosperous North. Transport and
innovation are seen to be the areas that can
have the biggest impact on the combined
regions’ future competitiveness.
Ministers are being asked, for example, to
support the establishment of a Northern
Transport Development Fund to deliver “early
The government has also been asked to
adopt a three-point plan to fill gaps in the
North’s innovation ‘ecosystem’ by
strengthening and developing the wider
region’s international research capacity,
stimulating business service innovation and
building on knowledge economy locations such
The Northern Way is also suggesting
that government should:
• implement measures pioneered in the
Northwest to improve skills and get more
people on Incapacity Benefit back into work
• strengthen devolution at all levels for
planning and decision making especially in
relation to City Regions
• improve the quality and variety of housing.
The three RDAs also believe that efficiency
and accountability can be improved and
strengthened by ensuring that key public sector
targets are relevant to local and regional needs
rather than just government departments by
appointing a Cabinet Committee for the North
or a Minister for the North.
Steven Broomhead, NWDA Chief Executive,
said the CSR provided The Northern Way with
an opportunity to advise government on the key
investment locations in the North that will
deliver the greatest return.
“We want government to continue working
with us to strengthen the North’s key
knowledge locations by building on our assets
and drawing on lessons which have been
successfully applied elsewhere in Europe and
For further information:
tel: 01925 400100
The new streamlined service will replace
the existing five Business Link operations with
a new head office and contact centre in
Preston – manned into the evening seven days
a week – and a large number of business
advisers located around the region.
The changes are being introduced following
a fundamental review of Business Link
provision by the Northwest Regional
Development Agency (NWDA), which assumed
full management of the service in April 2005.
With an annual income of £18 million and a
staff of 330, the new organisation, branded as
Northwest Business Link, will operate as an
impartial, independent brokerage service and
will align itself with the internationally-
competitive sectors and priorities outlined in the
Northwest Regional Economic Strategy 2006.
The sectors include biomedical, energy and
environmental technologies, advanced
engineering and materials, food and drink,
digital and creative industries and professional
and business services.
The overall aim, says Managing Director
Peter Watson, is to raise the profile and
perception of Business Link and increase
understanding of what it can do. “There is a
great misunderstanding about what it can do
and we now have a wonderful opportunity to
clarify that,” he explains.
“Restructuring will allow us to offer a robust
and sustained level of service that is
consistent throughout the region with one
management team and one back-office
function and it will also enable us to put more
effort into the front-line part of the service.”
Business enquiries will be routed through a
‘universal gateway’ based on the national
Information Diagnosis Brokerage (IDB) model,
with the contact centre handling all
communications, phone, web and email. Self-
diagnostic tools will be available on line.
Another strand of the service will be the
target brokerage, a proactive operation staffed
by some 200 business advisors - called target
brokers’ - co-located with sub-regional
partnerships, the various cluster organisations
and possibly on science parks.
Watson stresses that “anyone can walk
through the universal gateway from the school
leaver wanting to go into self employment to
the chairman of a company that has been
operating for fifty years. Nobody will be
Northwest Business Link will not be
delivering products and services but will
quickly and seamlessly route requests for
guidance and business support to the most
“We think the market is best able to deliver
solutions,” says Watson who took up his
duties in September to prepare the new
service for launch on April 2, 2007.
“We will be working with accredited
suppliers and they will be subject to close
monitoring according to customer
Wholly owned by the NWDA with a private
sector led-board, the new organisation will
run on business-led principles with the aim of
boosting business formation and making
established companies more competitive.
Peter Watson sees the ‘fit for purpose’
restructuring as a logical necessity. “We want
to run ourselves as a lean business reflecting
internally what we want to achieve in the wider
He takes on the task of developing a slicker,
more focused support service with a broad
level of experience in the private sector, having
worked in footwear manufacturing, the house
building sector and the European and UK
For further information:
tel: 01925 644220
www.nwbl.co.uk (from April 2)
Digital industries – another growth sector
High fliers – aerospace is a target sector
IT hub – a contact centre will
handle all communications
Business priority – support will be
offered to biomedical companies
“WE WANT TO RUN OURSELVES
AS A LEAN BUSINESS REFLECTING
INTERNALLY WHAT WE WANT
TO ACHIEVE IN THE WIDER
NORTHWEST BUSINESS LINK
A new revitalised Business Link service for the region, centrally managed but
delivered locally, is to be launched in the spring with the aim of improving growth
and competitiveness in key sectors of the Northwest economy.
A new ultra-clean production facility that
uses living organisms to develop tomorrow’s
medicines has been officially opened in
Speke, Liverpool, further strengthening the
region’s world-class reputation for
The National Biomanufacturing Centre
(NBC) will help new and existing companies
move good research ideas from the
laboratory to the global marketplace within
the right regulatory framework.
Located on the Estuary Business Park, the
centre has attracted major overseas interest
and has been described as a “benchmark
and showcase for British science,” by Dr
Crawford Brown, Chief Executive of Eden
Biodesign, the NBC’s commercial operator.
Funding for the £34 million project, which
has been hailed as the first of its kind in the
world, has been provided by the Northwest
Regional Development Agency (NWDA), the
EU’s Objective One programme and the
Department of Trade and Industry.
Some of industry’s big corporate players
including AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly and Avecia
have provided helpful advice on setting up
Although biologics, which includes
biopharmaceuticals and vaccines, have been
around for 25 years it’s only recently they
have become viable as commercial products.
They currently account for 17% (50 billion
dollars) of the medicines market but industry
experts predict their share could rise to 70%
in the future.
Chemical compounds are used to make
drugs in traditional pharmaceutical
manufacture whereas the NBC’s processes
use living cells – mammalian, viral and
microbial-like mini factories to make
The centre provides a full range of services
necessary to take a novel biopharmaceutical
from proof of concept through to small batch
production for early–stage clinical trials.
Its client focus will be small and medium
size companies (SMEs), research and charity
organisations, the universities and the NHS.
The NBC was borne out of an idea in the
late 1990s by Professor Julian Crampton, a
former Liverpool academic, and has been
brought to fruition largely through the
dedication and drive of Dr. Linda Magee, Head
of Bionow, the Northwest Biotechnology
cluster organisation established by the
NWDA. Her contribution won widespread
praise at the opening ceremony.
She describes the centre as the “missing
link” that should speed up the lab-to-market
process. “It’s a beacon for the wider
Medical researcher Dr Stephen Richardson of
the University of Manchester has developed a
treatment for lower back pain using the
patient’s own stem cells which could replace the
use of strong painkillers or surgery.
Pre-clinical trials are due to start in 2007 and
are expected to rapidly yield a marketable
product. The breakthrough, achieved with the
collaboration of a German biotechnology
company and renowned spinal surgeons,
promises huge cost savings for the NHS.
Dr Richardson’s work earned him the
accolade of ‘Northwest Young Biotechnologist of
the Year’ at the 2006 Northwest Biotechnology
Awards, organised by Bionow, the NWDA regional
The awards, which are supported by
commercial sponsors, including AstraZeneca,
Avecia, Nature Publications, Pannones and
Addleshaw Goddard showcase the very best of
biotechnology in region.
Three other award winners also have strong
links with the University of Manchester. They
include Professor Mark Ferguson, 51, Co-founder
and Chief Executive Officer of Renovo, who was
named as the ‘Bionow Personality of the Year.’
ACADEMIC SPIN OUT
Renovo aims to be the first to market with
a pharmaceutical drug to prevent and
Many of the new discovery companies
springing up across the region have their roots in
academia. Myconostica, the ‘Biotechnology Start
Up of the Year’ is a spin out from Manchester
University specialising in fast and very sensitive
molecular diagnostic tests for life-threatening
respiratory fungal infections.
Dr. Chris Ward of the university’s School of
Dentistry won the ‘Bioprocessing Project of the
Year’ award for his work to develop a novel
method of preventing human embryonic stem
cells from forming into different types of cell.
Farfield Scientific of Crewe, which uses optical
measurement technology to manufacture
instruments for use in drug discovery and the
mechanisms behind diseases, was named as
‘Biotechnology Company of the Year’.
Farfield employs 21 and exports
60-70% of its products.
The award of ‘Biotechnology
Project of the Year’ went to
Manchester-based DxS for
‘Therascreen’, an innovative genetic
analysis product to identify
patients who will respond
well to certain cancer
pharmaceutical community in the region and
we expect it to have an influential role in
attracting inward investment to the Northwest.”
An Access Fund of just under £3 million has
been established to support the work of the
NBC and is already assisting SMEs purchase
services from Eden Biodesign. Grants of
up to £70,000 are available for eligible
companies with higher allocations for those
located in Merseyside.
One recipient company, Onyvax, has started
work on an ovarian cancer vaccine while a
second successful applicant, Aquapharm, is
using the NBC’s expertise to develop products
from marine sources.
The NBC will enhance Liverpool’s drive to
become one of Europe’s premier
biopharmaceutical centres. Around 2,000
people are currently employed in the sector
in south Liverpool, the highest concentration
anywhere in the EU.
Opening the state-of-the-art building,
NWDA Chairman Bryan Gray, a former
chemistry graduate, called it one of the first
“building blocks” in an emerging industry.
“It’s an exemplar project of co-operation
between the public and private sectors”.
Apart from offering advice and guidance to
early-stage companies about moving from
research into development, Eden Biodesign
aims to expand training opportunities with a
view to doubling its workforce to 100 over the
next two years.
It is joining forces with Liverpool
John Moores University to establish a
Bioprocess Summer School in 2007 to
resolve some of the skills deficiencies in the
sector. The partners hope to move towards
an apprenticeship in Bioprocessing that can
be rolled out across the UK.
For further information:
tel: 01925 400100
Centre of excellence – technicians work in an
Professor Mark Ferguson –
Bionow Personality of the Year
State of the art – the National Biomanufacturing
Centre is a showcase for British science
That was in 2003 when Nik, from Newcastle
on Tyne, joined Mocha, a multi-media
production company established by two earlier
“There were only two or three of us from my
course who stayed in Liverpool,” says the
designer and animator who completed a
summer placement with Mocha before his
final year. “A few wanted to try for London but
it’s a difficult time when you finish university.
If people don’t find a job fairly quickly, many
move back home with their parents and start
This is one of the drivers behind Liverpool’s
new Culture Campus, officially launched this
month, which aims to “inspire, support and
enable” the city’s top quality graduates to stay
in the area to develop its cultural sector and
wider creative economy.
Initially funded with £75,000 of European
Objective One funding and £33,000 from both
Liverpool University and LJMU, the Campus
also sets out to help SME development in the
cultural and creative industries sector.
At a time when public policy experts are
acknowledging the value of ‘creativity’ in the
competition to stay ahead in the global
economy, the highly-specialist web-based
Campus aims to add a new dimension to the
city’s cultural success.
Supported by the city’s Tate, Biennial and
FACT, the Campus plans to assist their
growth and development through the provision
of new talent.
“The new Campus wants to ensure that
Liverpool is the place to be for graduates and
post-graduates who want to build a career in
the creative industries,” says Liz Lacey,
Director of Culture Campus.
“Many students made the decision to come
to Liverpool because of next year’s (2008)
European Capital of Culture and have
expectations of making a career here.
We want to improve the chances of them
staying in the city – as well as supporting
SMEs in the same sector to develop and
attract new talent.”
Concentrating initially on the visual arts, it
plans to broaden its scope to include music
and other art forms, with the support of
Liverpool’s Everyman/Playhouse theatres, the
Philharmonic, Bluecoat Arts Centre, Walker
Art Gallery and the World Museum.
Two early practical projects will involve
setting up a ‘dating agency’ to link students
with work experience providers and a system of
bursaries and seedcorn funding to enable
organisations moving in to the city to support
and invest in the cultural sectors.
Professor Jennifer Latto, the Northwest
Regional Development Agency’s Higher
Education (HE) Adviser and a member of the
Culture Campus Board, explains the thinking
behind the project.
“The idea is to link together all the work
going on in Higher Education and in the arts
organisations in Liverpool so Culture Campus
becomes the first port of call for anyone who
wants to set up projects and find particular
expertise and appropriately trained staff in the
very specialist cultural and creative industries.”
LMJU, which has announced plans for the
Northwest’s first Screen School, will build on
cultural education provision in the city by
introducing two new masters’ programmes –
New Media Curating and Cultural Leadership –
in September 2007.
For further information:
tel: 01925 400100
CULTURE CAMPUS LINK
TO CREATIVE CAREERS
When multi-media arts student Nik Bowler graduated from Liverpool John Moores University
(LJMU), he was one of only a handful of his contemporaries to stay and work in the city.
Arts hub – FACT has pledged
support for Culture Campus
SKILLS AND EDUCATION
Scientists, engineers and
mathematicians at the University of
Manchester have been given a new type
of research environment with the opening
of the Manchester Interdisciplinary
Biocentre (MIB). The £38 million facility
will enable up to 80 research groups to
apply novel approaches to finding new
therapies for diseases such as cancer,
meningitis and cystic fibrosis.
Princes Park in Liverpool and
Birkenhead on the Wirral are the latest
areas to benefit from Northern Way
initiatives to drive down the number of
people claiming Incapacity Benefit in the
North. The project, which will build on a
successful scheme in Knowsley, will
target 3,000 claimants in the new areas.
a new era of high
provision with the
official opening of the
European Centre for
Aerospace Training (ECAT), the first
building to be completed on the town’s
£38 million Learning Zone development,
which is receiving £5 million funding from
Bolton Technical Innovation Centre (TIC),
the UK’s first ‘Junior Incubator’, has been
officially opened by the Princess Royal.
Developed with the support of the NWDA,
the TIC has been created to nurture
innovation and enterprise among young
people in Northwest schools. It is the first
of its kind in the UK.
Manchester Metropolitan University is
set to expand its successful New
Entrepreneurship Scholarship scheme
after its Centre for Enterprise won
£1.2 million of additional funding. It will
enable up to 400
people in local
communities to attend
to learn how to
convert their business
ideas into reality.
Professor John Wilson, a qualified
accountant, has joined the University of
Salford as Head of the new Salford
Business School, which was formed in
August from four existing Schools. He has
previously worked at the University of
Teesside, Liverpool John Moores
University and Lancashire County Council.
Pathfinder, a new skills project aimed at
developing higher education tailored to
employers’ needs, is giving the Northwest
“another chance to stand out” for its range
of training opportunities.
The region has been chosen by the Higher
Education Funding Council for England
(HEFCE) as one of three areas to pilot the
£4 million initiative.
This now means that Northwest employers
can access skills training for their workforce
via a brokerage service ranging from basic
literacy and numeracy right through to top
level post-graduate learning.
Dr Celia Brigg, Project Manager and
Assistant Director (Skills) of the North West
Universities Association (NWUA) which is
leading Pathfinder, says: “The Northwest is
now the only UK region to have the full range
of training offered by the Learning and Skills
Council and Higher Education – from Train to
Gain through to the higher level skills.”
Supported by the Northwest Regional
Development Agency, Pathfinder will develop
a database of existing HE provision to
identify gaps, and a brokerage system using
existing regional brokers, who have been
trained in HE.
The NWUA has already started work on
intelligence gathering to establish the higher
level skills needs in four sectors: advanced
engineering and materials, construction,
digital and creative industries and business
and professional services.
Dr Brigg says: “We understand there is a
need for specific technical skills and
management and leadership qualifications
which are not merely generic, but specific to
She says that in line with government
policy, Pathfinder will attempt to achieve a
step-change in the HE sector, encouraging
universities to deliver some courses more
flexibly, including on employers’ sites,
supported by online learning.
The region’s universities are already
responding to employer skills needs by
introducing specialised degree courses, often
with input from business and industry.
Salford, for example, received help from
Adidas, Umbro and Reebok in shaping the
content of a sport equipment design course.
A dramatic growth in digital marketing
spend has prompted Manchester
Metropolitan University Business School to
launch a BA (Hons) degree in Digital
Marketing and Communications, again with
support from industry practitioners.
Lancaster has become one of the first
universities to launch a degree course (MSc)
in Decommissioning and Environmental
Clean-Up, a move that should help small and
medium size firms in Cumbria exploit the
opportunities created by the £70 billion clean-
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is
lending its support by funding a number of
post-graduate scholarships for part-time
industry-based students, recognition of
Lancaster’s excellence in nuclear
engineering. The course will be delivered in
partnership with the Westlakes Research
Institute in Cumbria.
The Pathfinder initiative comes at a time
when the government is driving forward its
ten-year strategy for science and innovation
and emphasising the need for closer links
between HE and employers.
For further information:
tel: 0161 234 8880
“THE NORTHWEST IS NOW
THE ONLY UK REGION TO HAVE
THE FULL RANGE OF TRAINING
OFFERED BY THE LEARNING
AND SKILLS COUNCIL AND
DR CELIA BRIGG
AND ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
UNIVERSITY DRIVE TO HELP INDUSTRY
Ice cool – Salford Design student
Graham Patrick with prototype
equipment for the new sport, Xtreme
Owzat – coaching aid for cricket
Infrastructure to support the development
of a business park on Edge Lane in
Merseyside is set to create 150 temporary
construction jobs. The development of the
site, which received £4.6 million from the
NWDA, is ultimately expected to generate
around 1,000 jobs with the attraction of
science and technology based companies
to the region.
Carlisle is moving ahead with the first
phase of an ambitious renaissance
strategy after being given £1 million of
from the NWDA to
develop the city’s
Local residents are being invited to help
shape the future of the former
Bickershaw Colliery site in Leigh.
English Partnerships has announced
funding of nearly £17 million to develop
a country park which will complement
an approved new NWDA-led
neighbourhood scheme around the canal
basin on the southern part of the site.
Construction has started on a new
£3.5 million development to bring
flexible, short term business space to
Ellesmere Port. Grant-assisted by the
NWDA, the Evans Business Centre on
the Pioneer Business Park, Ellesmere
Port, will provide start-ups and small
businesses with 23 offices and
BakeMark UK, the
producer of bakery
products is expanding
production capacity workforce at its
Bromborough manufacturing facility
after being offered a package of aid from
the NWDA and partners. The investment
will create 20 new jobs and prevent
production being transferred overseas.
Measures to introduce more flexible
working across the region are being
championed following the establishment
of the Northwest Flexible Working
Group. Public and private sector-led, the
group will be charged with delivering a
strategy which aims to benefit both
employers and employees throughout
PEOPLE AND JOBS
In the six years since the urban
regeneration company (URC) New East
Manchester (NEM) set about rejuvenating the
city’s old industrial heartland, over £800
million of public and private money has been
invested in the area triggering a
transformation as impressive as the city
Projects are underway in 15 of the 17 target
neighbourhoods with 3,400 new homes
completed and another 6,000 in the pipeline.
Over 3,000 jobs have been created or
safeguarded and local schools are driving up
The holistic regeneration of a complex area
of 1,900 hectares in size – five times as large
as the city centre – has earned high praise
from Professor Michael Parkinson, an
international authority on cities, in a mid-term
evaluation of NEM activities,
“The success of New East Manchester
tells us a lot about how we should manage
our hard-pressed urban areas in future.
This is not only a fine example of best
practice but raises the bar for urban
regeneration,” he observes.
NEM is a partnership venture between
Manchester City Council, the Northwest
Regional Development Agency and English
Partnerships. It was established in 2000 with
an initial 10-year lifespan although the city
council has always regarded East Manchester
as a 20-year project.
The NWDA has pledged to invest
£120 million in the area’s renaissance of
which £70 million has been spent. The overall
cost of bringing economic and social stability
to the area is estimated at over £2 billion.
Tom Russell, NEM’s Chief Executive, says
the message from the evaluation report was
that good progress had been made on the
delivery of physical change and “normalising”
the area’s economic profile but recovery was
fragile and still needed sustained commitment
from public sector partners.
“One of the threats we face is complacency.
We are pleased with the progress made
but know it is still too early to regard the
job as done. It can easily slide back to its
In his detailed report, Professor Parkinson
highlighted the huge challenges facing NEM
when it began to bring the branding concept of
“the new town in the city” to reality.
The old metal-bashing area had lost 60% of
its employment between 1975-85, and the
housing market had collapsed. It also had a
high unemployment rate with 52% of people on
benefit, high crime, poor health, inadequate
transport links and a low skills base.
Building on the legacy of the
Commonwealth Games, which has left the
area with a world-class sporting
infrastructure, the URC and its partners have
scored a string of notable commercial and
One “incredibly important” milestone,
according to Russell, was securing a major
investment by Fujitsu in a new UK HQ on the
flagship Central Park.
“It’s given the area a modern IT employment
profile and the more of these investments we
It used to be an area of empty factories,
abandoned homes, high benefits dependency
and few opportunities. Today East Manchester is
a brave new world of well-designed housing,
world-class sporting facilities, rising
educational aspirations and soon home to the
UK’s first regional casino.
RISING IN EAST
get the more East Manchester will be seen as
a good location for modern businesses”.
The 182-hectare (450 acres) business park
is already geared up for the arrival of
Metrolink (in 2010-11) following completion of
a £36 million Gateway transport interchange.
Ask: Akeler Developments has completed
275,000 sq ft (25,547 sq m) of new office space
out of a projected 1.4 million sq ft (130,000
sq m) and has begun work on a further
43,350 sq ft (4,027 sq m) of speculative space.
East Manchester is a richly patterned canvas
of physical, economic and social renewal with
dozens of projects completed, at the
construction stage or in the planning pipeline.
They range from new shopping centres,
new schools and health facilities to major new
housing schemes and an innovative use of
heritage assets, such as Ancoats, the Ashton
Canal and Gorton Monastery.
NEM has gone for very strong architectural
statements - functional rather than iconic
- to change the perception of east
Manchester. House builders are being urged
to raise their design standards to provide a
different but better type of housing than that
Lovell and Gleason, the two main house
builders in Beswick, one of the early renewal
projects, are now selling new homes for up to
£250,000. Over 9,000 new homes across the
area have been completed or are in various
stages of construction or refurbishment. Two
thirds of buyers are believed to be from across
the city region or elsewhere.
Education is another measure of progress
with attainment levels moving up to be on a
par with the Manchester average compared to
10% below in 2000. Two of the area’s primary
schools were among the top five most
improved schools in the country.
Russell is confident the public and
private sectors are on track to deliver
investment worth more than £2 billion
over the next 10-20 years.
In its recommendation to government, the
Casino Advisory Panel based its decision to
award the regional casino licence to East
Manchester on the area's "great promise" as
a test bed for social impact and regeneration
need. If approved by government, the decision
could give the go-ahead for over £265 million
investment in a major leisure and
entertainment development, creating 2,700
jobs and a range of community facilities.
“Our success will be measured in our
redundancy,” says Russell, “The sooner
we can withdraw and let the private sector
and market forces take the reins the
happier we shall be.”
For further information:
New East Manchester is adding value to
the overall economic success of the city,
according to Professor Michael Parkinson’s
interim evaluation of the URC’s
performance. Achievements in the period
up to March 2006 include:
Jobs – the area is outperforming national
and regional trends on job growth rates with
3131 jobs created against a lifetime target of
10,000; NEM is performing well on
safeguarding jobs reaching 82% of its target.
Land – NEM has serviced 75% of the land
identified in its lifetime targets; it has also
achieved more than half its target for new or
upgraded floor space.
Housing – over 3,400 homes have been
completed and there are up to a further
15,000 anticipated new builds. At this rate
NEM should reach its original target of
12,500 new homes by 2010.
Morale – satisfaction levels among
residents is rising; in the Beacons New Deal
for Communities area 60% of residents
thought their neighbourhood was getting
better in 2005 compared to 17% in 1999.
State-of-the-art venue – Visualisation of the
casino development at East Manchester
“VITAL INVESTMENT LIKE THIS IS
DESPERATELY NEEDED TO
GUARANTEE A SUSTAINABLE
FUTURE FOR EAST MANCHESTER.
WE KNOW A REGIONAL CASINO
WILL DELIVER ENORMOUS
NEW EAST MANCHESTER
Rising private sector confidence in Liverpool’s
ability to become a prosperous, competitive
city-region is helping to transform its retail
and commercial office core, sparking a
building boom without parallel in the last
Cranes crowd the skyline as developers,
construction companies, fund managers and
public agencies step up the £2.5 billion
physical and economic regeneration of the
waterfront and central business and
Take-up levels in the city centre office
market in 2005 reached a record high of
nearly 500,000 sq ft (46,451 sq m), an
increasing proportion of which is new-build.
Rentals have also risen from £14 to £20 per
sq ft over the past five years and investor
demand has driven capital growth faster than
any other provincial city.
“On the basis of headline rents and yields,
the capital value of new office space has
doubled in that period,” enthuses Jim Gill,
Chief Executive of Liverpool Vision, the Urban
Regeneration Company (URC) charged with
coordinating the city ce