Liverpool City Region: Leading the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Posted on 17 Sep 2018 by Jonny Williamson

Every new revolution needs its catalysts and enablers. Liverpool helped to create the infrastructure for the first industrial revolution, with its port, roads and railways at the epicentre of international trade.

The Industrial Strategy is setting out a long-term vision for how Britain can build on its economic strengths.- image courtesy of Depositphotos.
The Industrial Strategy set out a long-term vision for how Britain can build on its economic strengths.- image courtesy of Depositphotos.

So, it’s no surprise that the Fourth Industrial Revolution powered by digital technology, sees Liverpool City Region at the forefront of developments.

The UK government’s Industrial Strategy White Paper, launched in November 2017, set out the global ambitions of a post-Brexit Britain with a strong focus on Industrial Digital Technologies.

Many elements of the strategy that will power the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) are at the heart of the research and development being carried out in and around Liverpool.

LCR 4.0 and Sensor City

Liverpool City Region has stepped up and taken a lead in driving forward the digitisation of industry with its ‘LCR 4.0’ project. It is aimed at revolutionising the productivity of the city region’s SME manufacturing base via the application of sensor and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

One key asset for the area’s digital industrial technologies is Sensor City – one of the world’s first incubators dedicated to the development and commercialisation of sensors and IoT technologies.

Its role is to foster the creation, development, production and promotion of cutting edge sensor technologies for use in a wide range of sectors. A purpose-built technical and business support centre has been designed to meet the needs of emerging and established industry partners. By working collaboratively, and creating a connected sensor community, it is making Liverpool a global hub for sensor technologies.

Making body suits for Real Madrid

Terry Nelson, founder of Aqua Running, was a Liverpool FC youth team player until persistent injury forced him to give up the game as a teenager. He has developed a revolutionary aqua running suit combining innovative design and sensor technology.

- Image courtesy of Sensor City
Liverpool’s Sensor City is a world-class innovation hub and centre of excellence devoted to the technologies of sensing.

Sensor City created a model of a correctly dimensioned hydro pad for the suit to be manufactured and made a 3D promotional video to support sales and marketing. Aqua Running now works with many high-profile football clubs like Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal.

Liverpool’s strengths in digital games development are being harnessed by manufacturers. Southport-based Immersive Interactive has teamed up with Sensor City to create a virtual tour of the new global innovation hub based in Liverpool.

Outputs for the project included an immersive VR tour, a 3D structural model, 2D and 360-degree photos, digital measurements and automatically generated videos.

Virtual solutions for Bentley Motors

Located between Liverpool and Manchester, Sci-Tech Daresbury is central to the UK’s industrial digitisation. Home to the one of the world’s largest supercomputers and IBM Watson, and several world-class research centres, where industry partners apply big data and AI technologies.

The Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) is delivering fully immersive solutions across the product lifecycle in a range of sectors including automotive, aerospace, energy, oil and gas. Whether it is supporting surgical planning with VR or encoding ethics into robots, the breadth of expertise challenges orthodoxy and sparks innovation.

An example of the innovative work carried out at the VEC is a three-year collaborative R&D project, STRIVE (Simulation Tools for Rapid Innovation in Vehicle Engineering), which aimed to deliver a new digital supply chain to develop globally competitive products.

To address the challenges set by Bentley Motors, the VEC brought together local tech companies OPTIS and to provide collaborative, integrated solutions. Thanks to the VEC, Bentley Motors has successfully reduced development timescales while enhancing build quality.

Digital Manufacturing Week - The Manufacturer Smart Factory Expo 2017 - image courtesy of The ManufacturerSmart Factory Expo (14-15 November 2018)

Liverpool is hosting Smart Factory Expo, Europe’s biggest showcase for Industry 4.0.

Last year, the two-day event attracted more than 4,000 industrial decision-makers.

This year, it is expected to attract more than 6,000 visitors and 200 exhibitors – making it one of the world’s largest showcases for digital manufacturing.

Locate your next manufacturing project here

Invest Liverpool has a team of business location experts from across Liverpool City Region that can assist with business expansions and relocation projects. The team can provide detailed research on markets, sectors, workforce demographics, support and incentives and can showcase a wide range of sites, premises and development opportunities.