Brown – Liverpool must embrace knowledge economy

A Treasury report, released yesterday to coincide with Gordon Brown’s 10th budget, raised the now familiar call for Liverpool and other northern cities to take on the challenge of shifting to knowledge-based service economies with a greater degree of entrepreneurship. The report presented data showing that Liverpool, in particular, is lagging other cities with 26 new VAT registrations per 10,000 adults, below Leeds (37), Bristol (39), Manchester (43) and London (60). The Treasury report said the transition should involve the re-engineering of the city’s buildings to make them more suitable for modern business, media and financial-service based industries. It said the large number of quangos involved in regeneration budgets would be cut to ease red-tape and speed the transition, but fell short of more concrete, radical solutions based on “city-regions” which will now wait until the next comprehensive spending review. Meanwhile, Liverpool’s own Phil Redmond is playing his part as chairman of the Merseyside Entrepreneurship Commission. While this sounds like a quango, Redmond notes that his position is outside the public sector and his team includes a range of private business owners. On the back of this, a brand “U can make it in Merseyside” was created amid calls for a single lead agency for entrepreneurship support and for government feedback. Both for Redmond and the Treasury, there is a strong link with education. “This city’s built on the Cunards, the Pilkingtons, entrepreneurs that create world-beating ideas and global businesses,” Redmond recently told the Business Insider magazine. “That’s what my ten-year vision was: to set in place a more enterprising, sympathetic and educational environment out of which six or seven people over the next ten years are going to come up with world-beating businesses.” Continuing the theme, Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City council and regeneration “heavyweight”, will tell the first Downtown Liverpool in Business Property Forum of 2006 that the city needs “focus and leadership” to achieve its full potential. The forum, entitled “A Tale of Two Cities”, takes place today from 2.30pm at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre.

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