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Mipim 2017: can Cheshire’s science corridor carve out its very own ‘golden triangle’?

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Another year, another MIPIM. The annual parade of property’s finest referred to as the “Davos of the real estate industry” in BBC coverage yesterday often fanfares a hubbub of events, declaring some area or another as the next big unmissable investment opportunity.

Alderley Park

Alderley Park is at the heart of the Cheshire ‘science corridor’

Many of these up and coming areas often leverage future promise as part of their pitch. But this morning the Addleshaw Goddard villa at Quai 21 will host a session on an area with plenty of the fundamentals for success already in place: the Cheshire Science Corridor, which is aiming to become a ‘Golden Triangle’ of science and technology excellence in the North West.

Cheshire may ordinarily bring to mind idyllic rural scenes. But not many know that a crescent spanning through Chester, Liverpool, Warrington and Manchester is home to a thriving base of businesses underpinning Britain’s contribution to sectors as varied and vital as the life sciences, nuclear research, energy, green tech and advanced manufacturing.

For example, Birchwood Park near Warrington hosts the national nuclear laboratory and is arguably the home of British nuclear fuel. Birchwood’s nuclear know-how fits well with the nearby Capenhurst Technology Park, which brings together leading energy companies at the former Electricity Council’s R&D centre alongside nuclear giant Urenco’s uranium enrichment and nuclear waste treatment plant.

The corridor also boasts Alderley Park, the world-class life sciences research hub where beta-blockers were first created, saving countless lives and winning their developer Sir James Black a Nobel Prize for Medicine.

Northern Powerhouse

The Cheshire Science Corridor can thank an abundance of factors that allow these tech clusters to thrive. Companies are perfectly situated to recruit from the internationally renowned universities at Liverpool and Manchester, providing them with a vast pool of skilled labour. The cultural renaissance the two cities have seen over the last decade also make it an attractive destination for younger workers, with the charm of market towns such as Nantwich and Northwich appealing to those looking for a more rural lifestyle.

The area already has good connectivity thanks to its two airports and good rail links, set to improve further from 2027 once HS2 cuts London to Crewe journey times to just 55 minutes.

These advantages, along with the Corridor’s natural fit with the government’s much-heralded Northern Powerhouse strategy, saw the area awarded Enterprise Zone status in April last year. The status will allow the area’s Local Enterprise Partnership to retain a potential £200m in business rates over the next 25 years – a boon for development that is estimated will generate 20,000 new jobs and 500 new businesses for the region.

Manchester

Manchester offers great investment opportunities within the Northern Powerhouse - Source: Shutterstock/Shahid Khan

With science parks being identified as crucial to innovation in a government green paper in January, it is clear the Cheshire Science Corridor is set to be key not only to the Northern Powerhouse, but the government’s future industrial strategy..

Without a doubt, the building blocks are in place for the Cheshire Science Corridor to both rival and complement the south’s own London-Cambridge-Oxford Golden Triangle. We hope this morning’s panel can illuminate some of the huge opportunities in the area still to be unlocked.

Lee Sheldon, partner at Addleshaw Goddard

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