£12.7m digital innovation hub opens in Liverpool

A £12.7m digital innovation hub has opened at the University of Liverpool and will support collaboration between academics and industry. Tony McDonough reports

University of Liverpool
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram at the launch of the Digital Innovation Facility


A new £12.7m Digital Innovation Facility (DIF) has opened in Liverpool and aims to accelerate innovation between academics and businesses.

Located in the city centre campus of the University of Liverpool, the DIF will offer world class expertise and the latest technology to inspire new developments in computer and data science, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and engineering.

On Monday, the centre was officially opened by  tech entrepreneur and visiting Professor at the University of Liverpool, Sir Robin Saxby, and Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram.

Comprising more than 16,000 sq ft of space, the DIF includes laboratories, the latest equipment and highly-skilled support to facilitate enhanced access for businesses and organisations that wish to collaborate with university experts.

Specialist labs include a mixed reality lab containing the latest in VR technology and equipment, an extreme environment lab that simulates real-world hazardous conditions for testing robotics and autonomous systems and an immersive laboratory that focuses on developing sensory technologies in areas of smell and touch.

Professor Dame Janet Beer, vice-chancellor of the University of Liverpool, said: “The DIF is an incredible asset and we know it will have a significant positive impact on the city region and the North of England as a whole. 

READ MORE: New £39m full-fibre broadband network for Liverpool

“The recent Research Excellence Framework highlighted our strengths and expertise in the areas of computer science, robotics and engineering and this facility will help business and industry access this expertise to lead the way in digital technologies, resulting in further collaborations, inward investment and economic growth.”

The DIF is co-funded by the University of Liverpool and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Local Growth Fund. Co-located in the DIF are the University’s Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC), STFC Hartree and the Civic Data Cooperative.

Mr Rotheram added: “The pandemic accelerated the move towards a more digital world and proved just how important connectivity and technology will increasingly be in all our lives.

“For me, it’s a no brainer for us to invest in projects that marry intelligent businesses with local research excellence and help develop this into practical and lucrative new applications.”

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