Margot James, Minister of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), visited Sensor City last week, as part of an official delegation to Liverpool.

Interested in the work being undertaken in the region, the Minister was welcomed by Dr Joanne Phoenix who gave her a tour around Sensor City and an overview of the technical facilities and business support expertise on offer to its members.

The tour consisted of a walk around the electronic prototyping and mechanical laboratories at Sensor City, with demos of the LPKF electronic circuitry suite, Digital Microscope and 3D printers.

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries said: “It’s great to see 3D printing using eco-plastic made from cornhusks.

“Sensor City are doing great work making this technology available to start-ups and SMEs.”

As well as the technical innovation happening on site, Sensor City is leading the Liverpool 5G Consortium, who were recently awarded a £3.5m grant by DCMS to investigate the opportunities of 5G community Wi-Fi in health and social care..

The project is deploying high value technologies, including low-cost open source 5G networks, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and the Internet of Things, across deprived communities in the Liverpool City Region test bed.

Ann Williams, Commissioning and Contracts Manager at Liverpool City Council, took the Minister on a site visit to a home within the testbed which is putting the new technology to use.

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries said: “5G has the potential to revolutionise every aspect of our lives, from increasing productivity to improving quality of life.

“Our successful Liverpool testbed is key to delivering this progress, exploring how we can harness the power of 5G connectivity to transform health and social care.”

On returning to Sensor City, the Minister then lead a Digital Economy Advisory Group (DEAG) meeting to discuss how to maintain the UK’s leadership position in technology.

Attendees from the Liverpool City Region (LCR) Combined Authority, LCR Growth Hub, LCR Local Enterprise Partnership, Sensor City, STFC, IMB, educational institutions and local SMEs took part in discussions around scale-up challenges, smart cities and digital skills best practice.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Applying innovative world class digital connectivity to drive economic growth and transform people’s lives is one of our primary ambitions for the Liverpool City Region.

“We have a thriving digital economy here, based on entrepreneurial acumen, strong partnerships and mentoring programmes, which is why we are able to successfully deliver pilots such as the Liverpool 5G testbed.”

Dr Joanne Phoenix, Interim Executive Director at Sensor City added: “There is a prominent emerging start-up culture in the region, as well as large corporates collaborating with the academic community to develop world firsts and digital solutions at scale.”

Whilst there remain some untapped skills in the economy, Liverpool City Region is seen to be leading the way in addressing this demographic imbalance, particularly focussing on the role of women in tech and emerging young talent.

Summarising her visit to Liverpool, Margot James said: “There is amazing energy, entrepreneurialism and innovation everywhere you turn.

“I started my day in Liverpool with a fascinating tour of the Sensor City labs and hosted the first revamped Digital Economy Advisory Group in Liverpool. The energy in the room was excellent – very productive.”

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