The curtain has been lifted on a groundbreaking project to speed up broadband connectivity and revolutionise how companies across Halton harness next generation technologies.

Sci-Tech Daresbury played host to an event earlier today (Friday) which marked the completion of LCR connect, a £30m venture delivering a 214km full-fibre, ultrafast, gigabit-capable network infrastructure across the Liverpool City Region (LCR).

Bosses said it will equip businesses across the six LCR local authorities – including Halton - to access next generation, future-proof and cloud-enabled technologies. They added that the network would deliver some of the fastest internet speeds around and help make the city region the most digitally connected area of the UK.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) at Sci-Tech Daresbury is home to the Hartree Centre’s Scafell Pike, the UK’s most powerful supercomputer dedicated to industrial research, and was the first location to install LCR Connect. Project chiefs said the new setup has doubled Sci-Tech Daresbury’s internet capacity and future-proofed connectivity for more than 150 cutting-edge science and technology businesses based on the campus.

Professor Kate Royse, Director of the Hartree Centre, said: "Enhancing the connectivity of Sci-Tech Daresbury underpins our growth as we look to expand the campus to support 10,000 people working in science and technology.

"This will help us in our mission to reach more UK businesses, ensuring they have the right skills, access to expertise and technologies for societal and economic impact."

The network will eventually provide more than 28,000 local businesses and organisations with access to a new, gigabit-capable service. Businesses showcased at today's event included EnChoice. Based on the Sci-Tech Daresbury campus, it is an award-winning Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and digital transformation solutions company.

Company Director Nickie Mason-Hunt, said: "We work closely with the Sci-Tech Daresbury ecosystem and Liverpool University to ensure we are at the forefront of laying the AI foundation on how businesses create greater value from their information assets. LCR Connect’s reliable, fast connection is a vital part of how we do business."

More than 350 LCR firms are already connected with another 400 signed up, with access available to more than 28,000 businesses and organisations across the LCR.

The LCR is made up of six councils including Halton, and the project is a half-publicly owned joint venture between ITS Technology Group, NGE, and the LCR Combined Authority, led by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram.

He said: "LCR Connect will help us to create thousands of high quality, secure jobs and training opportunities for local people, attract inward investment and ensure that our businesses can keep pace in an increasingly digital world. Best of all it’s half owned by us, the public, so we can reap the rewards of this investment for years to come."