by Ian Hughes
7th July 2020

Fast-acting, collaborative and innovative forward-thinking has been the hallmark of Liverpool City Region’s rapid response to covid-19 – and things have only just begun.

The recent Liverpool MIPIM/Downtown Liverpool in Business ‘Partnership, Investment & The Ripple Effect’ webinar effectively encapsulated, not only several ground-breaking new initiatives that the city region has already implemented, but also highlighted an exciting path forward, one that’s making other regions sit up and take notice.

Moderated by Liverpool City Region business champion and Downtown in Business CEO, Frank McKenna, the webinar welcomed a selection of our city region’s most influential ambassadors. First up, Managing Director of Future Cities Legal and General, John Cummins revealed why his company is investing big in Liverpool.

The Chief Executive of property giant Bruntwood, Chris Oglesby, outlined why his company’s Sciontec investment deal signifies great faith in our city. Culture Liverpool Director, Claire McColgan MBE talked about Liverpool City Council’s £1.4 billion plan to reinvigorate Liverpool, post covid-19 and KQ Liverpool Chief Executive, Colin Sinclair informed audiences about our region’s £2 billion Knowledge Quarter and how it has the power to lead the city into a new realm of economic prosperity.

To round things up, Liverpool MIPIM Chair and Principal and Managing Partner at Avison Young Liverpool, Stephen Cowperthwaite, discussed how all these things come together at MIPIM Cannes and MIPIM UK; where we cohesively promote our region on a global stage through a partnership that is going digital until we can meet again.

Defiant in the face of adversary. Determined in our mind-set to succeed. Driven to further propel business growth – Watch the genuinely inspiring one-hour webinar video or, if you’re short on time, read our highlights below, to understand how our region is confidently turning the coronavirus crisis into a catalyst for further growth. Strong, decisive leadership never sounded so good.



John Cummins, Managing Director of Future Cities Legal and General


Legal and General have a purely objective assessment of the growth potential of Liverpool’s science quarter. With the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the University of Liverpool, and Liverpool John Moores University; strengths in sports science, and essentially, a practical and pragmatic council and combined authority, What Liverpool has is world-leading.

“Our investment committee and the cabinet committee don’t care that I’m from Liverpool and a LFC fan, they care about the fact that we’ve found An amazing opportunity to create long-term investment, to create jobs and create growth areas in the city and they agree that we need to get away from the Golden Triangle of London, Oxford and Cambridge, in order to fully grow as a nation. They understand that we need to develop the opportunities that we can see in these great northern cities, like Liverpool.

“We stand behind Liverpool with our partners, especially Bruntwood and we also stand behind other northern cities. We’ve been investing outside the M25 corridor for quite some time and we’re glad that t’s not too popular, because it gives us the opportunity to create innovative capitalism and work harder with longer-term relationships.

“Our investment is based purely on the fact that you’ve got some great, world-beating capacities in computers, material science and life science, that will grow even more, now that we can see the opportunity to build an even greater knowledge community and retain the talent that the city creates. When people in these sectors leave university, they won’t need to leave Liverpool and that’s a real improvement for the city region and the whole of the north.”

Chris Oglesby, Chief Executive, Bruntwood


“I feel really positive about the £100 million we’ve invested in the city and the hundreds more that we’re hoping to follow it. When I look at the cities we invest in, one of the things we look for is a world-beating, clear strategy, another is the ability for a place to concentrate on what it is that they are really good at and absolutely drive that home.

“This clear strategy and thinking has been emerging in Liverpool over several years and the Knowledge Economy has been at the heart of that but it isn’t exclusively about knowledge. Culture is also one of the key drivers, as is the cities global brand. Liverpool is out there celebrating these strengths and it doesn’t see itself as needing help.

“Certainly the Project Greyhound bid [Liverpool’s £1.4 billion post-Covid-19 recovery plan] and the publicity that surrounded it was a completely different tone of voice to the one we’ve had in the past, in terms of government strategy. Couple that with the city’s strong culture of collaboration, that keeps building and building and you have something truly dynamic.

“The region’s successful presence at MIPIM has also been a really important for our sector. Our showing at MIPIM has moved away from highlighting individual developments to talking about sectoral skills. That’s where we’ve been having some world-class discussions around the city’s strategy and it’s really got people sitting and waking up to the possibilities within Liverpool.

“I think the other area where we’ve seen that culture of collaboration is in the relationship with government. Our pitch isn’t a beggars bowl, it’s going to government and saying ‘this is how we will help you sort your problems. We are here to solve the problems of the country’ and certainly I think Liverpool’s proposition does this in big, key areas.

“Historically places across the north used to compete with each other and whilst we’ve been fighting it out amongst ourselves, the contract’s ended up going to London or The Golden Triangle. What we need to do is work collaboratively across the north on our shared strengths. Liverpool’s Knowledge Quarter is such a big opportunity and if we get it right it has such a big impact across the whole of the north.


There’s a saying ‘never waste a good crisis’ and covid-19 is going to have a huge toll on us, but ultimately it does create an opportunity as well. We should be using covid as an opportunity to push for greater devolution. The Economist wrote a very damning article last week about the UK government, unfavourably comparing us to the more federal countries that have been able to act more nimbly because they’ve had greater devolution. The fact that in Liverpool you don’t know where you’ve got a covid-19 hotspot or outbreak until a week or ten days after it’s happened, because that data is held centrally, is absolutely crazy.”


Claire McColgan MBE, Director of Culture Liverpool.


“Obviously, there’s been a seismic shock to the system on Liverpool’s culture and the visitor economy. More than 45 per cent of our business rates in the city come from these sectors. The visitor, leisure and nightlife economy each make the city incredibly vibrant and they also brings a huge amount of money in. So, for a city like Liverpool, it’s really important that we get that back on our feet. Culture will always be strong in Liverpool and we can actually use that strong foundation to build a new city over the next ten years.”


“Liverpool works really well when it has a plan and Tony Reeves [Liverpool City Council Chief Executive] and Mayor Joe Anderson played an absolute blinder with this one. On one hand they were dealing with the health crisis and looking after the poorest people in our city, and on the other hand they were looking at how we best navigate the next ten years. If we didn’t the economic downward spiral associated with covid-19 would happen anyway.

“We have to be really pro-active and clear. It was around week one of lockdown that WhatsApp messages were flying everywhere, saying ‘Let’s get the economic recovery together’. Because Liverpool is the way that it is, and it’s different to other places, we were able to galvanise the sectors really quickly.

“We’ve always had a really good relationship with the World Health Organisation, we regularly talk to the DCMS [Department pf Culture Media and Sport]. We’ve never really asked for anything, we’ve always just got on with it and that’s the spirit of this recovery plan and that’s what I’m most proud of.

“We’ve gone to government and said ‘Look, we know how to solve it’. We’ve got incredible businesses around the table, we’ve got investment waiting to go, we’re a city that has got that special something, which is a really big personality, that most places would kill for. You saw it last night with the LFC win, you see it when you talk around the world. We’ve got that and I think that was what was really compelling for government. This is a new Liverpool, one with a really exciting proposal.

“There’s some really clever things in the proposal; Developing our film and TV industry, the pop-up studios, things that we can just get on with, because the demand around film hasn’t stopped through covid, its only paused, but now film and TV production companies want studios here and we’re getting inundated with requests.”


“Liverpool Without Walls was turned around really quickly. The initiative gives small grants to businesses to buy outdoor furniture, so they can start to trade outside, where covid transmission is much less likely. It was a really simple idea, which has not been done anywhere else in the country.

“Closing city centre roads to open them up for retailers and getting the word out to everyone was completed in three weeks. That’s unheard of. It’s that absolute mixture of pragmatism and delivery that is really important, alongside those really big, ambitious ideas.

“In a way it’s reminded me of Liverpool winning European Capital of Culture in the 1990s. That was a big idea that the whole city had to get behind. That’s why Liverpool ONE was built on time, that’s why the ACC Arena was built on time, there’s no doubt about that.

“We had a deadline to work towards and Liverpool works best like that. So I’m really excited about the future and about the stuff I’m hearing today as well. What’s been amazing for me, over the last three months, is how we have just kept our foot on the gas, in the face of everything that’s happened and the absolute collaboration and partnership that we’ve witnessed right across the city region, from all different sectors.

“The recovery plan is incredibly compelling and actually a really good read. It’s not a dull, regeneration document. If you were someone aged 22, wanting to start a business in this city, you would look at that and go ‘actually, Liverpool’s somewhere where really want to be’.



Frank McKenna: “Liverpool Without Walls has captured the imagination of people right across the country. Wherever I’m talking now, people ask about it, and say ‘How have Liverpool managed to turn that around so quickly? It takes us months to just get the local authority involved, just in terms of closing the street off, or in allowing licencing laws to be relaxed.”

Claire McColgan: “That’s ultimately thanks to the good leadership of Mayor Joe Anderson and Tony Reeves. That was an idea that was just an idea, and actually it’s really risky; we’re not going to please everyone. But we could have just sat back and gone ‘Oh well, that’s that. It’s too hard…’ but that’s not the way to behave when you’re dealing with a crisis. The only way to get out of a crisis like this pandemic is to be really proactive and really brave. And we will get things wrong along the way, it won’t all be plain sailing, but then what’s the point if something like this doesn’t galvanise us?

“We’ve just had potentially the worst thing happen to our economy, in all our lifetimes, what’s the worst that can happen by putting tables and chairs out in the street and giving businesses a lifeline. You know, there’s a context to it, of course, but we’ve got a leadership that just says ‘yes’ and then you’ve got to work out how you do it!

Chris Oglesby: “I think that’s the critical piece of success in this one. So often it’s the case that good leadership involves saying yes and committing to doing something and then everyone has to follow your lead, get behind you and make it happen. Every now and then you’ve got to take that risk and I absolutely salute the people that have done that here in Liverpool. It’s just been great for the profile of the city and shows that we really do care about business success here, which is such an important message.


Colin Sinclair, Chief Executive of KQ Liverpool


“I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of what we’re doing with colleagues from Bruntwood and Legal and General and how important the timing of all this is, in the face of the new economic paradigm we are witnessing.

“One thing we can do is create jobs now. We spent two years procuring Sciontec, it’s unique in the country. We implemented a share transaction, of the likes nobody has ever done before. We had a competitive process and Bruntwood SciTech had to work really hard against some fantastic competition, we had global funds bidding with other developers for this and Bruntwood SciTech were the best bidder in the end, by far.

“That procurement process means we can get construction on the ground now. Whether it’s at Paddington Village, or Copperas Hill. Through extending Liverpool Science Park, we can get construction jobs underway this year. And not just construction jobs, but training and apprenticeships. Along with safeguarding our cultural economy, creating those jobs in construction and attracting occupiers is going to be pretty critical. This is about people’s lives and livelihoods and I think our priority has to be around keeping our businesses alive and creating those new jobs.”

“We mustn’t underestimate the importance of marketing the city internationally and looking beyond our boundaries. The £18 million ‘Strength in Places’ bid represented something important that we often don’t talk about, outside of football rivalries. We’ve got to put Liverpool, Manchester and Cheshire together. We’ve got to market them together whenever we can, because they’re often a much stronger global entity as one, than they can be individually.

“What was great about the ‘Strength in Places’ bid is that it was about Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Cheshire, the University of Liverpool and Adderley Park all working together, and that’s important. It’s also notable that everything we’re working on is relevant to now and to this crisis we’re in.

“This week, Liverpool University was listed as third the best university for covid-19 research, just behind Cambridge University and UCL [London Global University]. That life-saving research is happening right here, right now in Liverpool Science Park.

“All of that ties into the things like integrated health data at LJMU, sports science and immersive tech at University of Liverpool, the work of the MTC [Manufacturing Technology Centre] in Liverpool Science Park and the work in robotics and artificial intelligence. Huge plans and ambitions, but all focussed on areas where we truly excel.


Stephen Cowperthwaite, Liverpool MIPIM Chair and Principal and Managing Partner at Avison Young.


“Today is the start of a series of webinars that we’ll be hosting over the next few months, to touch base with the Liverpool MIPIM delegation and continue to run remote events like this one. This webinar is a good example of what we’ve been planning to do with the MIPIM partnership, in terms of looking at themes that enable Liverpool to stand-out on a global stage. The recent Sciontec deal is a great example of Liverpool’s ingenuity and to be able to achieve that success during lock down was fabulous for the city.

“I have seen, right across the Avison Young network, how other cities are responding to the pandemic and I think it’s fair to say that Liverpool is very much as the forefront of the response and I think that the strong, decisive and bold leadership that we’ve seen this week has been great for the city and city region. It’s absolutely what we want to talk about as a partnership.

“We used the MIPIM brand as part of the recovery conversation. We got together key stakeholders; KQ Liverpool, Bruntwood, Peel, Augur and CTP; looking holistically at major projects across the city, and this was probably the first time that this had happened and it was a really positive thing to be able to do.

“Obviously we want to gear ourselves up to return to Cannes next year, in whatever form that may be. But Liverpool is in a really positive position, not with-standing the fact that we are still in the midst of a crisis, but I think that we have to build on that positivity and get that message out there and keep getting that message across. What the Liverpool MIPIM Partnership creates is a conduit to be able to have those sorts of discussions.

“Keep an eye on your inboxes for more information, and there’ll be a series of webinars over the next few months. But can I just say that I’d like to thank the panellists today, because it’s been a valuable, interesting and positive conversation and I hope people join us for our next webinars.”


Even the abridged highlights shown here, from the much broader webinar conversation in the film above, demonstrate a number of important things about Liverpool City Region. Our leaders and influential business people across the city are not about to sit around and wait for growth to happen. They’re going to make it happen.

It’s clear that our region has shown a strong sense of urgency, in regards to dealing with the covid-19 pandemic, both for our citizens and for our businesses. We know where our global strengths lie and how to best utilise them, through collaboration, growing ambition and delivering smart solutions in super-fast time.

In the last few weeks alone, recent success for Liverpool have come in many forms. Simple initiatives to get business back on its feet. Broad coalitions to achieve new levels of success. Major plans to spearhead recovery across multiple sectors, over the next decade. The Liverpool MIPIM Partnership plays an important role in all of this. We work to ensures that our region’s brand, special brand of public and private collaboration and winning international sectors are front and centre on a global stage.

This single, one-hour webinar alone, shows that Liverpool City Region is brave, bold and energised to succeed. We will take-charge in a crisis and we’re driven towards our goals. Businesses everywhere appreciate this enterprising spirit, a spirit that Liverpool has always exemplified.

Join us for more upcoming Liverpool MIPIM webinars in the coming weeks and months and read more about the partnership HERE.

For more on Downtown in Business click HERE.