Supercharging creativity through connectivity 


Connectivity is as important as electricity for many organisations. And that’s certainly the case for one social enterprise in the City Region.

Make CIC is a purpose-driven social enterprise with several vibrant spaces across the Liverpool City Region. It unites and enriches communities through creativity, art and culture. Whether that’s about taking part in a class, becoming a resident or commissioning Make for a project – Make is described as a place where “people turn their passions into prosperity”.

Make CIC is the first of what will be a host of community hubs across the Liverpool City Region to benefit from ultrafast connectivity as part as an ‘LCR Connect Community Hub’, a founding objective of the joint venture’s Social Value programme ‘LCR Connect For Good’.

Make is an early beneficiary of gigabit-capable connectivity, funded and supported by the joint venture.

Liam Kelly is CEO and founder of Make CIC, a business he ​co-founded ​​ ​in 2014. Born from an inherent desire to work and collaborate around others, the business formed with a handful of self-employed makers sharing space, from where it snowballed.

“We’ve managed a growing portfolio of properties since we first opened our doors in 2014. The amount of tenants is ​ ​ now in excess of 130 and over the 10 years we’ve worked with more ​than ​2,000 freelancers and small business​es​ – all expanding and going on​ ​to grow elsewhere.”

Liam Kelly, CEO and founder of Make CIC

As a revenue first organisation, a founding principle is that Make remains affordable as well as keeping hubs as supportive, fun and full of activity. That means support from organisations and third parties to enable service.

The programme with LCR connect is a perfect example of this, having a subsidised connection that allows Liam and his team to keep their space affordable ​ ​for people starting businesses.

Working with regional partners

Make CIC work with Liverpool-based technology provider FactCo, a local reseller partner of LCR Connect. It’s through such partners that access to the LCR Connect digital network is delivered, and it’s a key element of ensuring as much resource and investment remains in the local economy as possible.

“When we knew we were going to be located near to the network, we could see there was an opportunity,”

“We have always prioritised connectivity as a key utility – in some respects it’s the second utility after electricity. If our tenants turn up ​ ​ to work in the morning and their electricity is turned off, they go home. If the water is turned off, they wouldn’t go home as it’s less of an inconvenience.

“So for us the internet connection is probably the joint single most important service expected.”

Liam Kelly, CEO and founder of Make CIC

However, Make CIC hasn’t always been in an ideal location. Previously the best they could achieve would be from installing a dish on the roof to gain an internet connection. And although that connection may have had decent speed, it was expensive and unreliable.

“The opportunity to connect to the spine network and partner with LCR Connect for a stable, quicker and more affordable connection was an obvious choice for us, providing amazing opportunities, and we were keen to say yes.”

Liam Kelly, CEO and founder of Make CIC

​​Meet the makers​​​

Most of Make’s tenants operate in the creative sector, ​from ​​ ​ artists working on canvas to designers and marketing companies. In addition, there are third sector organisations, ​including ​a forest school and a mental health charity. And in addition to their tenants, onward services provided support​ to​ nearly 1,000 people, ​ ​ in​ ​areas that have multiple deprivation indicators.

All are dependent on an internet connection: whether it’s simply accessing the web, or providing a service online​, ​​ ​sales​,​ or running a customer-facing website. It’s a key element in bridging the digital divide and providing inclusive opportunities.

“For our tenants, we know there is far less latency in the service, but the most important thing for​ us​ is the consistency in the service and ​ ​having quicker connections and having a balanced upload.

“In general a lot have said they have chosen to be here because the connectivity is good. And the fact that it’s only getting better is a good thing – it’s going to help as people prioritise what they spend their money on.”

Liam Kelly, CEO and founder of Make CIC

Connectivity and connections, whether physical or digital, remains a key focus of the team at Make, allowing it to make an impact in and amongst the communities it serves.

“Many of our businesses are sole traders and put their energy into their business, generating economic activity. We have the network and connections to support them to do these things, providing opportunities to leave precarious domestic situations.

“They will use our hubs to become economically active and having an internet connection of the quality that we have really does help.”

Liam Kelly, CEO and founder of Make CIC

You can read more about Make’s impact in its  annual report.

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