Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

– Case Study


The Challenge

LCR Connect is a breakthrough joint venture that brings together the capabilities of the public and private sectors to stimulate the digital economy in the Liverpool City Region. It will bring more reliable, competitively priced and future-proofed gigabit digital connectivity to the region. When complete, the network will put the region’s businesses and institutions in a prime position to lead the way in a host of growing sectors where the City Region is already strong, from health and sciences to Artificial Intelligence and advanced manufacturing.

The comprehensive network across the City Region will contribute at least £105 million to economic recovery in the short term, and up to £1bn in the longer term, by attracting new businesses, improving productivity and innovation, improving public services and boosting the growing digital and creative sectors. It is expected to create thousands of local job and training opportunities.

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority needed to identify the most suitable private sector operators to partner with in the creation of the LCR Connect and establish a Joint Venture with them to deliver it.

The Solution​

Prism had been retained by ITS Technology Group (a new entrant UK Telecom Operator) to provide market review and analysis and had identified LCRCA as a potential opportunity. We supported early engagement c. 12 months previously to discuss broadband infrastructure and provide advice to LCRCA on engagement options with the market. ITS was not strong enough to bid in its own right, so Prism introduced ITS to NGE (an established infrastructure design and build group) to form a bid consortium. Prism then provided management and support of their entire bid process, using experts from our procurement, technical, market strategy, commercial contract and local authority teams. Prism also engaged and coordinated specialist collaboration and legal advice, GIS and market analysis and financial modelling/analysis.

The most challenging aspects of the 14-month competitive dialogue procurement process were:

  • Coordinating the entire process remotely through Covid Lockdown between new partners based in the UK and France and a Local Authority buyer with limited experience of the market – all with significantly different cultural approaches.
  • Development and refinement across the “buy-side” and “sell-side” of a new commercial contract structure to enable the innovative nature of LCR Connect, particularly in terms of “Dig Once” new build policies across the region, integrated use of this with Openreach ducts and “fair competition” rules between partners over the operation and commercialisation of the network.

The Outcome

ITS and NGE were successfully awarded the LCR Connect contract and established a groundbreaking JV company with LCRCA. This JV is on track to complete a full-fibre backhaul spine throughout the region in 2 years and roll out fibre to premises in the Boroughs of LCRCA commencing 2023.

All three JV partners will see financial returns in excess of 5 times the total £30m equity investment within the 15-year financial projection of the JV, in addition to the regional social and economic benefit LCR Connect will bring as shown in the testimonials below.

The Testimonials

“Our region was at the heart of the first industrial revolution and I believe that this project can help us be at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution, creating thousands of jobs and ultimately generating £1bn for the local economy”

Steve Rotherham, Metro Mayor, Liverpool City Region

“This is a transformational project, one which will not only help our city region recover from Covid-19 but help us rebuild our economy better than before. Gigabit-capable connectivity creates a huge opportunity for those living and working in all six of the boroughs through attracting global companies and industries and creating more jobs”

David Baines, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Digital Connectivity and Inclusion Portfolio