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Liverpool City Region Mayor signs landmark innovation deal with South Korea’s second city

  • City regions to foster ‘strategic innovation partnership’
  • Focus on opportunities in science, research, business, investment and trade
  • Co-operation over innovation linked to digital, net zero, and health
  • Paves way for exchange visits to further economic growth
  • Deal signed as Busan Mayor leads delegation on Liverpool City Region visit

A landmark innovation deal was signed today that paves the way for greater co-operation between two of the world’s most famous port cities.

Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Park Heong-Joon, Mayor of Busan Metropolitan City in South Korea, aimed at enhancing ‘mutual understanding, prosperity and friendship’.

The five-year deal will see the two areas commit to active co-operation initially linked to innovation in digital, smart cities, clean energy and net zero, and health.

Busan is South Korea’s second city and the world’s fifth busiest port, serving as Korea’s biggest trading hub.

Under the MOU, the city regions will foster a strategic innovation partnership and promote science, education, trade and investment exchanges.

The Liverpool City Region is one of only four places selected to take part in the government’s UK-Republic of Korea Innovation Twins Programme, delivered by Connected Places Catapult. The programme looks to leverage Liverpool’s world-class innovation ecosystem to drive international collaboration.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

“As a region based around one of the world’s most famous port cities, our area has always been as an open and outward looking place.

“While our reputation for culture, music and sport may precede us on the global stage, we know that our unique strengths and assets in science, innovation and research are what continues to attract partners from around the world to want to work with us.

“I believe we have all the capabilities, assets – and the political will – to take our area to the forefront of UK science and innovation and take advantage of the many thousands of jobs and training opportunities it will bring to our area.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to strengthen our region’s ties with South Korea as we enter a new chapter in our partnership. Working together, I want to take advantage of our shared strengths and unique assets to build a stronger future for our areas and our people.”

Park Heong-Joon, Mayor of Busan Metropolitan City in South Korea said:

“The city of Liverpool is amazing. I’ve been impressed that historical and contemporary features harmoniously coexist.

“Today’s MoU and the Innovative Twins project will become a catalyst to further bolster bilateral ties between the two port cities across various avenues from green technology, smart city, R&D, port regeneration, to culture.

“The two cities share much in common – not to mention, the two cities are home to great musicians, Beatles and BTS. I believe the cities have got huge potential to facilitate co-operation in the years to come and this will mutually benefit our people in the regions.

“And definitely more Koreans and Brits will visit each city more. “

Busan’s high-level visit includes representatives from Busan Techno Park and Busan Metropolitan Corporation and features tours of some of the city region’s world-class innovation facilities at Sci-Tech Daresbury, Glass Futures and Knowledge Quarter Liverpool, including the University of Liverpool’s Materials Innovation Factory and the Digital Innovation Facility.

The Liverpool City Region has been fostering stronger ties with Busan for more than a year, with active support from the UK Embassy in Seoul and the UK’s Connected Places Catapult, part of Innovate UK.

Senior officials from K-Water, the Korean state water corporation that operates the world’s largest tidal power scheme at Sihwa Lake, were in the Liverpool City Region last December to sign a deal to co-operate over development of the Mersey Tidal Power project – which has the potential to generate enough predicable, renewable energy to power up to 1 million homes for 120 years. The move followed initial contact at COP26 in Glasgow and a subsequent visit by a Combined Authority delegation to South Korea.

The region’s Innovation Prospectus, highlighting its world-class innovation and investment opportunities worth more than £12bn, was then translated into Korean – a move welcomed by the UK’s Ambassador to Korea, Colin Crooks, who hailed the city region as a ‘standout example’ of how UK regional authorities can develop international trade links.

Liverpool’s universities have also strengthened links with Busan and the Vice Chancellors of the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University and the Director of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine have all met the South Korean delegation, as have the Science & Technology Facilities Council team located at Sci-Tech Daresbury, the primary northern hub for UK Research and Innovation.

UK Ambassador to South Korea, Colin Crooks, said:

“With 2023 marking 140 years of diplomatic relations between the UK and the Republic of Korea, I am particularly pleased to see two of our most vibrant regions establishing closer links.

“The Liverpool City Region and the city of Busan are natural partners in so many ways. We look forward to continuing our support of this partnership and the civic, business and research cooperation opportunities that will be created.”

Connected Places Catapult’s Chief Executive, Nicola Yates OBE said:

“This Memorandum of Understanding between Liverpool City Region and Busan marks the start of a longer-term collaboration, to develop outcome based, sustainable relationships that deliver tangible projects of innovation collaboration, creating jobs and growth in both regions.

“The scale of the opportunity is large, with the potential to unlock new business and research opportunities for innovative companies, and cross-city learning. Connected Places Catapult is delighted to have helped make this happen.”