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Liverpool announces test and development area for drone technology

Project aims to stimulate investment opportunities, employment and skills for the region

A test and development area for drone technology is to be created in the Liverpool City Region as part of efforts to accelerate investment opportunities for the area as well as economic growth, employment and skills creation.

Dubbed Phoenix I, the project will be delivered in a partnership between the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) and consulting firm Drone Major Group. It will entail the delivery of drone services across surface, underwater, air and space environments. According to the organisations, the idea is that projects will be “commercially viable, scalable and environmentally sustainable”.

The project already has a roadmap, with key areas of focus and a pathway to develop drone capability in the segments of urban logistics, the environment, security, maritime logistics, port and maritime, and the wider community. According to the organisations leading the project, the Phoenix programme currently comprises 10 initiatives addressing these sectors in the UK. The project will utilise a common operational model and advanced data analysis.

“The Liverpool City Region is a digital powerhouse,” said Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region. “We have the world-class infrastructure, expertise and ambition to be leaders of the fourth industrial revolution. It’s fantastic to see the Drone Major Group choosing to open their test and development area here.

“This project will deliver new jobs and investment and will attract people to our area, not just to work but to study too, knowing that we are working on cutting-edge and exciting projects such as this, as well as ambitious plans in everything from digital infrastructure to tidal power.”

As well as the Drone Major Group, LCRCA has convened a number of other stakeholders that will be involved in the delivery of the projects, including Peel Ports Group, LogisticsUK, SP Energy Networks, Manufacturing Technology Centre, Liverpool John Lennon Airport, the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University.

It is hoped the initiative will stimulate Liverpool City Region’s investment opportunities, as well as enhancing its reputation as a technology innovation hub. The project aligns with recent announcements such as the combined authority’s emerging Climate Action Plan which outlines the region’s decarbonisation agenda, and the granting of freeport status for Liverpool City Region announced in the Budget on 3 March 2021.

“Drones represent an unprecedented growth opportunity across a huge number of global industries,” said Robert Garbett, founder of Drone Major Group. “Liverpool City Region has clearly demonstrated its commendable intent to adopt a sustainable and commercially viable drone technology system for the city, ahead of the curve, which sets an example to all.”

Garbett said the initiative will create an “overwhelmingly positive impact” on economic growth in the UK and globally, through “enhanced commerce, employment, skills, education and decarbonisation”.

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