Liverpool city region’s biggest science and innovation campus secured new tenants from across the world with one company founder comparing it to Silicon Valley. Tony McDonough reports
International businesses are flocking to Liverpool city region’s biggest science and innovation campus at Sci-Tech Daresbury.
Latest figures reveal the location attracted 27 new tenants in 2019, taking the total to 150. And eight of those new tenants were overseas companies. Bosses at the site say the launch of its ‘soft-landing’ programme has enhanced its global appeal.
The soft-landing programme offers free workspace and business support to global technology firms based in the campus’s Innovation Centre for up to 12 months, an offer that has caught the eye of a number of international investors.
One international company to have established a presence in 2019 is US biotechnology company, Livful. Its has created technology that powers products to repel biting insects. STAYTEC, its patented technology works with repellents to make them skin-friendly and more effective than any other repellent.
Hogan Bassey, founder and chief innovation officer at Livful, has been so impressed by the setup he is already considering further expansion. He said: “What’s happening at Sci-Tech Daresbury is like Silicon Valley, but the culture is better.
“In the US, it’s as much about the individual hero, but in the UK, people come together more frequently and there’s a different sense of collaboration.
“Sci-Tech Daresbury feels like a community and that creates a different kind of energy which you feel at the Business Breakfast Networking events, when companies come together to share resources and stories.
“Setting up a business is very capital and research intensive. In Silicon Valley it’s three times the cost to set up a lab, but here you can tap into resources to help. There’s something special here.”
Another company to have moved to the campus in 2019, via Sci-Tech Daresbury’s soft-landing programme, is Leaf Global Fintech from Denver, Colorado. The company offers an integrated financial service by converting mobile money through blockchain technology into stable investments.
In practice this means helping to ensure access to finances for vulnerable populations and displaced people across the world initially in East Africa. Leaf Global Fintech was first introduced to Sci-Tech Daresbury when an investors’ delegation from the Liverpool city region visited the US.
Nat Robinson, co-founder and chief executive officer at Leaf Global Fintech, said: “We were interested in operating from the UK because it’s easier to negotiate time zones in Africa, while also the tech environment is great and there are a lot more investors who are open to investing in Africa that we can approach.
It was revealed last year that more than £130 million in sales was generated by the campus in 2018. The study of 112 businesses reported an annual sales growth of 22% the 12 months.
In total, 73% of companies trading have sales outside the UK with Europe continuing to be a key export market, accounting for more than half of export sales and North America accounting for more than a quarter of total sales.
John Downes, group chief executive of Langtree and chair of the Sci-Tech Daresbury joint venture company, said: “A major contributor to our growth has been a direct result of the interest we are receiving from international businesses looking to relocate their operations to the UK and we’re delighted that so many have chosen the campus as their new home.
Sci-Tech Daresbury is a private-public joint-venture partnership between developer Langtree, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and Halton Council.