The Liverpool city region can become magnet for global tech companies, according to metro mayor Steve Rotheram.
Rotheram addressed tech entrepreneurs, academics and policy-makers at a digital summit at Shop Direct’s headquarters in Liverpool last week.
He said that a combination of world-class connectivity and predictable renewable energy makes the city region attractive to major tech firms.
He highlighted the area’s uniquely competitive asset base, including the UK’s most powerful computing centre at the Hartree Centre, Liverpool’s Materials Innovation Factory and Sensor City, and an emerging cluster of tech companies beginning to make a real global impact.
He outlined his twin priorities would be to invest in world-class digital infrastructure – linking directly to the GTT trans-Atlantic cable that reaches the UK at Southport – and exploiting the area’s unique potential for renewable energy by harnessing the power of the River Mersey.
“My aim is to make the city region that was the gateway to the first Industrial Revolution a globally important centre in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Rotheram said.
“By combining world-class digital connectivity and a predictable source of renewable energy we can make a uniquely attractive and compelling offer to global tech companies pledged to achieve carbon neutrality.
“When you combine that with a world-class talent pool, there’s no reason why we cannot compete successfully with leading international cities.”
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Showcasing local talent was one of the themes of the summit, which included a mayoral ‘question time’ in virtual reality courtesy of pioneering Liverpool VR company vTime.
The vTime platform enables people in different locations around the world to meet in a series of immersive virtual environments for social or business interaction.
The company, who are establishing a base in San Francisco, recently partnered with Microsoft to bring their ultra-immersive social VR experience to millions of Window 10 users as launch title for the Window Mixed Reality headsets.
The session included a live link-up with Silicon Valley-based academic and tech guru Terry Beaubois, who joined the session from Pala Alto, and also feature vTime’s Vicky Roberts and was moderated by former BBC journalist Mick Ord.
Beaubois said: “I have worked with Liverpool company Red Ninja on smart city projects in India and Silicon Valley for the last few years.
“Liverpool has some amazing innovative companies and it was exciting to discuss how technology can change the city region with mayor Steve Rotheram on vTime.”
The Summit also included key note contributions from Alison Kennedy, director of STFC Hartree; Dr Jon Hague, vice president open innovation at Unilever; Irene Lopez de Vallero, director of research at the UK Digital Catapult; Kelvin Prescott, head of specialist sales at O2; and vTime MD Clement Wangerin.
Carl Wong, CEO of Living Lens – a Liverpool software company who also have a growing business base in the US – said: “Liverpool businesses need to be more ambitious and focus on being the best in the world, not just the best in this city region.
“We have a great talent pool and also a great global brand that we should be willing to shout about.”
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