Liverpool still lags on foreign direct investment

Liverpool remains a long way behind Manchester when it comes to attracting overseas investors to the city, new figures reveal. Tony McDonough reports

Liverpool waterfront
Liverpool remains a long way behind Manchester for overseas investments. Picture by Tony McDonough


Liverpool saw just seven foreign direct investments (FDIs) into the city in 2022 – way behind Manchester which saw 45 FDIs during the year.

Latest figures from accountancy firm EY reveal the North West was the UK’s third-best performing region for FDIs. It attracted 88 investments during 2002 – up 19% on the 74 recorded in the previous year.

However, Manchester continues to dominate in this area. LBN last reported on FDIs two years ago when Liverpool recorded eight during the year and Manchester 35.

It further illustrates that while Liverpool’s economy may have markedly improved in some areas in recent years, in particular in maritime and tourism, it still struggles to anywhere near match its powerhouse neighbour at the other end of the M62.

Excluding London, Manchester attracted more FDI projects than any other UK city in 2022. Meanwhile, Liverpool and Warrington ranked joint-14th for investment outside the capital.

One particular bright spot for Liverpool in 2022 was US biotech venture Pierian Biosciences which opened a laboratory in Liverpool Science Park as part of a wider £60m investment.

That was thanks to financial support from the Liverpool City Region Inward Investment Fund. And, earlier this month, Pierian announced it was growing its presence in the city with the opening of a second laboratory.

Liverpool is pinning significant hopes on the life sciences sector. A new office building called The Spine opened in 2021. 70,000 sq ft, around half, is occupied by the Royal College of Physicians.

Sciontec, jointly owned by Liverpool John Moores University, the University of Liverpool, Liverpool City Council, and Bruntwood SciTech is looking to build another office building called HEMISPHERE that will offer 120,000 sq ft of space across eight storeys.

While the UK as a whole saw projects in digital technology fall by almost a quarter, the North West bucked this trend, with digital technology projects in the region up by 25% year-on-year. 

Stephen Church, EY’s north market leader, said: “The North West delivered a strong FDI performance in 2022, cementing its place as one of the most attractive regions for foreign investment in the UK.


Image of HEMISPHERE in Paddington Village which will offer 120,000 sq ft of space


“The increase in digital tech projects in the region, amid a nationwide decline in project numbers, is particularly notable.

“This growth aligns with the continuing appetite our transactions teams in the North have seen for investment into digital technologies and capabilities in the mergers and acquisitions market in recent months.

“The North West’s diverse sector mix also played a key role in 2022’s performance, with growth supported by significant year-on-year gains in the finance and transportation manufacturing and supply sectors.

“The excellent results across the North also demonstrate how regional and local leaders can help create business-friendly environments that align with an area’s specific strengths, challenges and needs.”

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