Government challenged to ‘level up’ northern science park provision
24 Oct 2022
The head of a former Liverpool University spin-out has called on the Government to address the lack of science park provision for the chemistry sector in the north of England.
Paul Colbon (pictured), CEO of Liverpool ChiroChem (LCC), claimed there were too few sites in the region that catered adequately for the sector because of the greater costs involved in air handling.
“Many science parks exclude chemistry because of the additional cost of the air handling required for ducted fume-hoods. Chemistry is integral to science and healthcare innovation,” stated Colborn
“If the UK government is serious about the levelling up agenda, they need to ensure we build and maintain science parks that are fit for purpose. The UK must have laboratories suitable for all disciplines of STEM.”
LCC which retains research projects at the university and a management office in Wigan, relocated its operations this month to Runcorn’s Heath Business Park rather than sites in Liverpool or Manchester. Colbon described its new site as one of the very few places in the North-West that has chemistry labs suitable for the company’s operations.
“There is a national shortage of chemistry labs and so we feel very fortunate to have secured labs at The Heath.”
LCC was founded in 2014 by researchers in Liverpool University’s Xiao Group and produces specialist chemicals to support new pharmaceutical drugs’ discovery and development for diseases including cancer and dementia, by customers across the US, Europe and Asia.
Its products are being used for several early-stage drugs undergoing pre-clinical studies before potentially going on to clinical trials added Colbon.
He added that Government action on behalf of the north of England would ultimately boost science provision in the UK as a whole, because of the rising costs and shortage of property in the country’s leading science clusters of London, Oxford and Cambridge.
“Scientists in our sector need facilities that are affordable and accessible. The North-West, North-East and the Midlands are all areas where rents are lower than the golden triangle of London, Oxford and Cambridge,” he emphasised.
Scientists are environmentally conscious, and we want to take public transport to work. We need more science parks like The Heath which are accessible by train from the excellent Universities of Liverpool, Manchester, Lancaster and Chester. This is essential for recruitment.”
Colbon’s comments closely follow reports of a recentreport by science property consultants Ridge and Partners published in Laboratory Talk's sister publication Laboratory News. This revealed a sizeable minority of science and tech firms surveyed were considering possible relocation abroad because of dissatisfaction with central and local government responses to the issue.