The Liverpool City Region has signed a landmark innovation deal with the Korean port city of Busan.
The five-year deal, signed by Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram and Park Heong-Joon, Mayor of Busan Metropolitan City, will see the two cities collaborate initially on projects 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.
Rotheram 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’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 added: “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 to Liverpool 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.
Previous examples include last year’s visit by senior officials from K-Water, the Korean state water corporation that operates the world’s largest tidal power scheme at Sihwa Lake. They were in the area 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 one 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.