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Norfolk signs historic agreement with Ukrainian region of Lviv

Norfolk County Council, 10 May 2024 09:31
Norfolk signs historic cooperation agreement with Ukrainian region of Lviv

A cooperation agreement has been signed between Norfolk County Council and the Ukrainian region of Lviv which is designed to explore knowledge transfer, educational exchange and trade opportunities.

The historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on Thursday 2 May at the Ukrainian Embassy in London by Leader of Norfolk County Council Kay Mason Billig and in Lviv via video link by Maksym Kozytskyi, Head of the Lviv Regional Military Administration. It is the first such agreement to be signed with Lviv by any part of the UK.

Councillor Kay Mason Billig, Leader of Norfolk County Council, said: "Since the conflict commenced in Ukraine, Norfolk made a commitment that everyone who arrives in Norfolk fleeing the war in Ukraine can get support. We are proud of the progress made supporting and resettling people in our county, with the support of all the district councils.

"It is with this spirit of friendship and cooperation that we establish this MOU, outlining our commitment to fostering relationships across various areas of common interest across our regions.

"The objectives and priorities outlined in this Memorandum reflect our shared aspirations for collaboration and growth. From economic cooperation and education to science and technology, agriculture, arts, culture and beyond, we aim to facilitate knowledge transfer, educational exchanges, and trade opportunities between Lviv region and Norfolk. Together, we will explore avenues for partnership in sectors ranging from healthcare and tourism to aerospace and environmental sustainability."

Maksym Kozytskyi, Head of the Lviv Regional Military Administration, said it was "an unprecedented event" as Norfolk was the first region of the UK to enter into such an agreement with Lviv.

"Both Lviv region and Norfolk have something to share with each other and can share experience and knowledge to jointly build a brighter future for our citizens. I am sure that cooperation between Lviv region and Norfolk County will be fruitful and mutually beneficial. Thank you for your friendship and leadership."

Eduard Fesko, Chargé d'affaires a.i. of Ukraine in the UK, said: "As Ukraine approaches the 70th anniversary of UNESCO membership, having confirmed our fundamental position in the defence of the world`s cultural heritage, it is truly heartwarming to see how two UNESCO-related places are coming closer, thus further building on the unprecedentedly close relations between our nations in the face of the Russian adversity.

"The two regions plan to embark on joint projects in trade, education, science and technology, IT, agriculture, arts, healthcare spheres, and much more. There is a vast untapped potential for cooperation, bringing tangible benefits to local communities of the Lviv region and Norfolk, and we wish the regions every success in their cooperation."

Cllr Mason Billig was joined at the ceremony by Liz Truss MP, as the MP for for South West Norfolk, Cllr Fabian Eagle Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Cllr Chris Dawson, Rural Champion, Chris Starkie, Director of Growth and Investment, and Roberta Willner, Head of Economic Development. Also there to witness the signing of the agreement was Nataliya Klymko, Programmes Coordinator for Growth and Investment.

Liz Truss, MP for South West Norfolk commented: "This is a fantastic initiative by Norfolk County Council and the Lviv region, which will enhance our mutual economic links and boost business in Norfolk."

Both Norwich and Lviv have links to UNESCO: Norwich is a UNESCO City of Literature, and the historic part of Lviv city (300-acre historic centre) is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. In 2022, Lviv was granted Freedom of the City of Norwich in solidarity with Ukraine, and the MoU - similar to a twinning arrangement - will further celebrate and build on these links.

Norfolk and Lviv have identified several key opportunities for collaborative working, including the TechBridge programme, a strategic partnership between the UK Government, Ukraine Ministry of Digital Transformation and Ukraine Ministry of Foreign Affairs to forge connections between our tech ecosystems.

This partnership currently runs to 2025 but may be extended, providing businesses in both locations access to expert advice and support in navigating the barriers to UK-Ukraine trade. There are also specialist investment accelerator programmes for Ukraine tech SMEs looking to expand overseas.

The skills and knowledge the local Lviv tech sector offers are recognised on the international level. For example, Lviv IT specialists developed the Skype app and special effects for films such as Harry Potter and Spider-Man. Norfolk also has a strong growing ICT/Digital sector with several individual clusters, and the MoU will encourage collaboration within the sector between our regions by participating in mutual events of interest.

This not only benefits cluster growth in a key sector for Norwich and Norfolk's digital services and would benefit Lviv through the contribution to the recovery efforts.

Other opportunities for collaboration include an incoming visit to the Theatre Royal Norwich in October by the Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine, led by leading conductor, Theodore Kuchar.
Councillor Fabian Eagle, Norfolk County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, said: "This opportunity all started with a connection that a small business in Swaffham Market had with a former Lviv resident, which shows all of our businesses, regardless of size, have an important part to play in Norfolk's economic growth.

"I am immensely proud we have become the first region in the country to have formed an Memorandum of Understanding like this with Lviv and excited about the opportunities it promises to create across a range of our sectors."

Last modified: 14 May 2024 13:23