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Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, has announced £110,000 of pre-development funding for an innovation centre that could help to make the UK a world-leader in sustainable packaging, and play a significant role in helping to meet the region’s environmental targets.

This initial funding is an important first step towards the creation of a £60 million National Packaging Innovation Centre, that could put the UK at the forefront of the global £1 trillion packaging market and create more than 2000 research and development jobs across the wider supply chain.

Specifically, the funding will enable project sponsor CPI to expand its offices to Liverpool Science Park, which is located in the Knowledge Quarter Liverpool Innovation District, enabling it to drive collaboration with industry and academic partners in the region as development on the National Packaging Innovation Centre continues.

Speaking about the project, Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said:

“The Liverpool City Region is a real hotbed of innovation, especially areas like advanced manufacturing that have a big role to play in cutting our carbon footprint.

“This funding is an important step towards the development of the National Packaging Innovation Centre in partnership with Unilever, that will help put our region at the head of the £1tn global packaging market.

“As well as making a substantial environmental impact, this centre will attract investment to our area and create thousands of jobs and training opportunities for local people. The rest of the world will look and learn from the working we’re doing.”

Darren Ragheb, Strategic Programmes Manager, CPI, said:

“Demand for resource-efficient packaging solutions from consumers, governments and regulators provides an opportunity for the UK to lead the way in this disruptive market.

“With the North West’s ambitious innovation ecosystem, Liverpool City Region makes an ideal location for CPI to expand its offering. Through access to industrially relevant capabilities and expertise for packaging innovation development and demonstration, CPI will support the transformation of industries and improve the long-term health of our environment.

“CPI’s new office at Liverpool Science Park will provide a hub for partnership development with universities, local government, industry, and SMEs to enable the development of the National Packaging Innovation Centre that will drive jobs and productivity in the region.”

Richard Slater, Chief Research & Development Officer, Unilever:

“To tackle plastic pollution, we need bold innovations that challenge existing designs, materials and business models. We support the National Packaging Innovation Centre, enabling world-class scientists and engineers from across industry and academia to work together to create more sustainable everyday products.”

Leanne Katsande, Head of Commercial at Liverpool Science Park, said:

“Liverpool Science Park is already home to a fantastic mix of like-minded and ambitious innovators, developers, creators and scientists and we are excited to be welcoming CPI into that community. Moving into the park is about more than a lease and an office, it is about becoming a part of the innovation ecosystem that we have worked hard to create with our strategic partner, Knowledge Quarter Liverpool.

“CPI’s ambitions and values are perfectly aligned to our own and we are delighted to be involved in the journey towards creating a National Packaging Innovation Centre, here in the Liverpool City Region, from day one.”

The Centre is being co-developed by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and CPI with Unilever as a founder partner. CPI is a deep tech innovation organisation with a long history of working with industry to translate clean tech ideas into new sustainable products and manufacturing processes. Unilever is home to the largest pool of packaging engineers in the UK at their existing Research & Development hub in Port Sunlight.

The Centre would be focussed on the commercialisation of innovations in packaging materials and production technologies, bringing together industry and academia.

The announced support from LCRCA will catalyse engagement with industry partners who would provide financial support to the project, matching requested investment from government.

In addition to around 60 jobs at the Centre itself, the final project would form the core of a wider packaging cluster in LCR, bringing up to 2,000 high-value innovation jobs and supporting businesses across the packaging supply chain.