Research Wales Innovation Fund Strategy 2023/24 – 2027/28
|RWIF strategy lead:
|Professor Roger Whittaker
Section A: Overview
1. Strategic ambitions
Please provide an overview of your institution’s five year approach to supporting knowledge exchange activities and how these will be supported by RWIF. You may wish to highlight broad areas which you are targeting, and how these align with your institutional mission and internal strategies. [max 250 words]
Research, innovation and civic mission are central themes of Cardiff’s The Way Forward (TWF) 2018-23 strategy. The previous RWIF strategy period saw the opening of our flagship sbarc|spark building (housing our incubator space and the world’s first Social Science Research Park (SPARK)), and our state-of-the-art Translational Research Hub (housing Cardiff Catalysis Institute, the Institute of Compound Semiconductors, and the Net Zero Innovation Institute). In the next period, our ambition is to further build on our infrastructure and culture for innovation and research, using our ‘Innovation for All’ approach established through RWIF. This involves:
- Placing research excellence at the heart of our innovation activities, integrating co-production into our civic mission activities, and continuing to develop greater connectivity across all three areas of the strategy;
- Strategic knowledge exchange activities strengthened by our external partnerships with businesses, charities and civil society organisations, as well as Welsh Government, Cardiff Capital Region, NHS, WIN, GW4 and Western Gateway;
- Growth in collaborative research awards, as well as commercial activity via start-ups and spin-outs, and other income-generating activities;
- Supporting local communities to prosper through coproduced initiatives that put citizens’ needs and voices at their core;
- Impact from innovative training and support for staff and students, enhancing engagement with external organisations, complemented by high-quality CPD to grow skills and widen access to research expertise of value to the Welsh economy;
Central to delivery is a dedicated Innovation Business Manager who is supported by specialist professional services staff (33 are RWIF-funded), working across key innovation-focused teams in the University.
2. Capacity Grant
Provide some narrative on how your institution plans to make use of the £250k capacity grant included within RWIF. How will this be used to support and enhance capacity and incentivise and improve performance in knowledge exchange? [max 250 words]
The Capacity Grant supports our Major Bids team, Impact and Engagement team, and Strategic Partnerships team.
The Major Bids team facilitates development and delivery of strategic large-scale research and innovation bids (e.g., the successful cross-Welsh HEI £50M Strength in Places Fund (SiPF) media.cymru bid, complementing our earlier £44M SiPF CSconnected bid). Increased capacity in the team has enhanced delivery of major data-focused projects (e.g., the £20M Cyber Innovation Hub to establish high-growth companies, raise private equity, and train 1,750 people in cyber skills; and our £10M Cardiff Capital Region Challenge Fund, which started in October 2020 for 3.5 years).
The Impact and Engagement team successfully delivered our £2.1M RWIF-funded ‘Innovation for All’ seed funding programme (supporting c.150 projects). It now leads on delivery of our £4.25M Harmonised UKRI Impact Acceleration Account (H-IAA) programme which includes a comprehensive set of funding calls covering 6 UK Research Councils. The team also coordinates our Knowledge Exchange and Impact Development programme for staff and students, established during the first strategy period, which has so far delivered 24 sessions to 640 participants.
RWIF funding has enabled the Strategic Partnerships team to expand. We now have six Strategic Partnerships, five of which were formalised within the past year: Dŵr Cymru, Airbus, Siemens Healthineers, Amgueddfa Cymru, and DSV. The team continues to deliver ongoing, dedicated professional support for these partners, as well as our first formal partner, ONS, in addition to scoping future strategic partnerships that complement existing partnerships.
Section B: Specific content
3. Commercialisation / income generating activity
RWIF has been designed to incentivise and reward performance, particularly in terms of external income capture.
Provide details of how RWIF will be used to enable your institution to grow its external income as measured by HE-BCI. What are the key areas of investment and growth? How will funding be used to build on previous RWIF investments? What new activity will be supported? Further guidance on this section is available in Circular W23/12HE. Your response should be framed in terms of the impact of RWIF on the social and economic prosperity for Wales. [500 words max] Please highlight centres of research excellence that already operate as innovation hubs.
A recent analysis by London Economics of Cardiff University’s economic impact for the 2020-21 academic year found that for every £1M invested in Cardiff University research (excluding activities that have a knowledge exchange component), £4.89M is generated for UK companies. Further £59M was generated through 164 active spinouts and staff and student start-ups, supporting 1,285 full-time jobs, 665 of which are in Wales. Our collaborative research income (HE-BCI figures) increased by 39% from 2020-21 to 2021-22, just one indication of the effects of our increased emphasis on supporting collaborative activities. Additionally, we were 1st in Wales for consultancy income, CPD activity, number of disclosures and patents and IP income for the HE-BCI 2021-22 period.
Our centres of research and innovation excellence, including our 4 Innovation Institutes, 2 SiPF projects, and new initiatives such as Cyber Innovation Hub, are delivering value to the local innovation ecosystem. media.cymru recently awarded £180K of seed funding to Welsh freelancers and SMEs to undertake early-stage research, development and innovation; CSconnected has launched a series of CPD courses to address the urgent need for skills.
Building on this we will focus on:
Widely embedding innovation to support collaboration and cocreation for high impact social and economic outcomes of value to Wales. We will:
- continue to support centres of research and innovation excellence to expand and deepen their connections with industry in Wales and beyond;
- nurture the next generation of centres of excellence across key areas of growth;
- strengthen our accessibility for industry, SMEs, public and third sector bodies through our Business Engagement and Partnerships team, Impact and Engagement team, and CPD Unit, developing collaborative income-generating opportunities;
- provide partnership support for cocreation, covering the whole lifecycle from initial introduction to wide-ranging strategic relationships;
- accelerate strategic alliances (e.g., WIN, SETsquared, Western Gateway, Cardiff Capital Region (CCR)) to support regional cluster opportunities.
Improving our data and systems, and staff infrastructure to enable more efficient processing and monitoring of research and innovation activities. We will:
- introduce new systems for pre-awards support (co-funded RWIF funding), to provide enhanced tracking of collaborative research bids, allowing real-time interventions for quality and efficient bid development and project management;
- continue to scope further improvements to our systems, including research and innovation contracts, Client Relationship Management, and impact tracking, aligned to research and innovation delivery for staff and partners.
Developing projects and training that meet the needs of our industrial and third sector partners, capitalising on both our sector-leading and developing research strengths. We will:
- use increased capacity to support Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, building on successes, noting three of our recent KTPs received an ‘outstanding’ rating from Innovate UK with one of these winning the KTP National Societal Impact Award;
- support flexible skills development coordinated by our experienced CPD Unit, which offers a blend of online and in-person learning. The Unit will lead on CPD tender opportunities (e.g., Provision of Psychological Services Education and Training, HEIW, £5.7M) to develop courses aligned to sector-specific skills gaps.
3.1 Provide details of your institution’s strategic KPIs for commercialisation and income generating activity
Over the RWIF period 2023 – 2028, our KPIs are as follows:
- 7.5% per annum increase in our collaborative research income (both cash and in-kind). New activity will be driven by continued support from our Major Bids team, new KTP and collaborative activity with our Strategic Partners, as well as improved data capture through new systems for pre-awards support.
- 5% increase per annum in the number of disclosures recorded by the University.
- 1% increase per annum patents filed by or on behalf of the University.
- 3% increase per annum in our IP income with the mean of the previous 3 years as the baseline for the starting year.
- 7% increase per annum of external investment raised via spin-outs.
- Increase the overall value of KTP projects from £3M to £4.25M over the strategy period.
- Support an additional 2 staff per annum to participate in SETsquared ICURe programmes.
- Submit 1 collaborative funding bid per annum with other SETsquared institutions.
- Submit 5 collaborative funding bids per annum with other Welsh HEIs, aligned to the WIN KPIs.
4. New business growth and skills support
Outline the support you intend to provide for new start-ups, spin-offs, and meeting the targets of schemes such as the WG’s Youth Entrepreneurship Programme. Provide information on where RWIF will add value to existing activities, and where it allows you to invest in further growth. Outline how RWIF will be used to develop a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation for students, graduates and members of staff. Further guidance on this section is available in Circular W23/12HE. Your response should be framed in terms of social and economic prosperity for Wales. [500 words max]
During RWIF 2020-23, we have focused on developing a positive innovation culture for our staff and students with tailored skills development support and have seen success in new business growth through an increase in formal spin-off companies (4 to 14 from 2019-20 to 2021-22), and new student start-ups (20% increase from 2020-21 to 2021-22). Our CPD Unit has worked with business to co-develop tailored learning packages addressing key regional skills gaps. Our focus in this strategy is on:
Supporting new spin-outs, through market-specific approaches:
- disruptive technologies: multidisciplinary areas such as hate speech detection and efficiency in building energy consumption offer opportunities to spin-out early;
- medical therapeutics: our close collaboration with NHS and industry partners and a capacity to manage clinical trials means we can build on our Medicines Discovery Institute’s bold approach to create a pipeline of viable IP addressing globally significant diseases;
- social science innovation: sbarc|spark exemplifies collaboration between the social sciences and our wider innovation ecosystem, creating opportunities for interdisciplinary spin-outs as well as social impact.
Deepening and expanding our student enterprise offering through:
our INSPIRE programme, providing a toolkit for students to develop commercial awareness and entrepreneurial awareness, through working on business ideas and social impact projects.
- collaborations with other SETsquared student incubator programmes, developing co-delivered events, where appropriate.
- continuation of our RWIF-funded Innovation and Impact Internships for undergraduates to undertake a summer placement addressing an economic or social issue in collaboration with an external organisation. Scheme evaluation will be undertaken during 2023-24.
- expansion of our business start-up offering to create a start-up and incubation business advice service to include a business development activity pathway, a 6-month stipend, access to sbarc incubation space, and a mentor via sbarc and Big Ideas Wales.
- scoping of a graduate accelerator scheme (based in the sbarc incubation space).
Developing external partnerships to enable organisations to meet their development needs. We will:
- continue to deepen relationships with existing Strategic Partners (ONS, Dŵr Cymru, Airbus, Siemens Healthineers, Amgueddfa Cymru, DSV) as well as cultivate new strategic activity focusing on collaborative research, skills development, regional capacity building and civic mission;
- develop bespoke CPD activities with external partners, linked to our centres of excellence to increase productivity, seize investment opportunities, and grow organisations in a sustainable way;
- use our UKRI H-IAA funding to support researchers in reaching new external partners and deepening relationships with existing ones to produce meaningful impact grounded in rigorous research findings and methodologies;
- develop a framework for increasing our work with PCET providers to promote economic growth through mapping our current PCET collaborations, (e.g., through our CPD Unit, South Wales Civic Engagement Partnership) and identifying areas of further development.
Reaching more staff and students through our Knowledge Exchange and Impact Development programme:
- This covers a comprehensive set of topics from policy engagement to prioritising and engaging with beneficiaries to start-up/spin-out evaluation and support. Our 2023 ‘summer series’ provides enhanced flexibility and increased opportunities for in-person interaction and will inform further development of the programme from 2024 onwards.
4.1 Provide details of your institution’s strategic KPIs for new business growth and skills support
- Increase the generation of new spin-outs with high-growth potential with at least 2 new spin-outs per annum.
- Increase the total number of HEP-owned and formal spin-outs (not HEP-owned) lasting more than 3 years by 10 over the whole strategy period, with an average of an increase of 2 per annum acknowledging that there is unlikely to be a linear profile each year.
- Increase the number of live KTP projects by 2 in first year (2023-24), then 1 per annum (2024-2027), then by 2 from 2027-2028, moving the overall figure from 10 currently to 17 in 2028.
- Increase the number of new student/graduate start-ups from 34 to 60 per annum by 2027-2028.
- Increase the number of graduate start-ups surviving at least three years from 80 to 100 per annum.
- Increase the number of students/graduates who attend Enterprise workshops from 650 to 1400 per annum by 2027-2028.
- Increase the overall financial value of learner days for CPD and CE courses, and the number of learner days by 2% in 2023-24 and then by a further 1% per annum until 2028.
- Engage 200 staff / students in our Knowledge Exchange and Impact Development programme in 2023-24, and 300 per annum subsequently until 2028.
- Engage 90 external partners in collaborative H-IAA activities per annum from 2023-2024 onwards.
- Support 18 placements of researchers into external organisations via the H-IAA in 2023-24. This will increase to 30 people per annum thereafter for placements (researchers into external organisations) and residencies (external partners into the University), except for 2025-26 when rebidding for H-IAA funding is likely to reduce capacity to coordinate placements and secondments for that year.
5. Civic Mission and Public Engagement
Our Civic Mission 2021 sub-strategy outlines our sustainable approach to civic mission activity aligned to our research, innovation, and education. Our renewed focus on public engagement through our National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement Silver Watermark Award provides an opportunity to further embed research and innovation at the heart of our civic mission. Sections 3 and 4 include links to our place-based civic mission, including CPD, enterprise activity, and new business growth supporting the local economy. This section outlines our work with communities in Wales, in the following ways:
Deepening our engagement with schools across Cardiff. We will:
- continue supporting our staff and alumni to become school governors, grow the programme to include recruiting PG students to become governors, provide ongoing support to local schools with a focus on ‘Widening Participation’, and Welsh language schools;
- explore ways to continue involvement in Cardiff Council’s ‘Children’s University’, to develop confidence and aspiration in children from disadvantaged communities;
- continue our work with teachers to enable them to reflect on their teaching practice, e.g., Professional Learning and Educative Mentoring course for schools in Cardiff and Neath Port Talbot.
Embedding existing, and developing new, community-led projects. We will:
- support our long-standing Grangetown Community Gateway project exploring opportunities for community-led social enterprises and activities responding to community voice;
- explore opportunities to continue our involvement in the CAER Heritage, and Green Social Prescribing projects;
- launch a Civic Mission and Public Engagement Progression Fund to support 2-3 community-focused projects per year;
- explore opportunities to collaborate with other Welsh HEIs as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences, building on our 2022-23 collaboration with Bangor University that delivered c.20 research-based community activities.
Supporting our staff and students to engage with communities in an equitable way to redress the power balance from universities to communities. We will:
- continue our 'sharing best practice' sessions, which connect external communities and university staff and students to share successes, challenges, and opportunities for joint action;
- create a public community focus group to enable the public to shape and inform our activity, including representation within our governance structures;
- develop a public remuneration toolkit outlining transparent and standardised approaches to payments for public involvement in university innovation and civic mission activities.
Communicating ways in which we work with local communities, through:
- continuing to increase the visibility of our civic activities and facilities through the development of our ‘Community’ webpages, newsletters, and case studies;
- broadening our participation in Welsh language/cultural events such as National Eisteddfod, Urdd, and Hay Festival;
- scoping an institutional ‘open doors’ event which invites and encourages public interaction with research.
Working with regional actors to increase the effectiveness of civic mission and public engagement across Wales, through:
- our involvement in the Welsh Civic Mission Network and the new South Wales Civic Engagement Partnership (four Cardiff-based HEIs, five FE Colleges, OU in Wales, and CCR);
- refreshing our partnership with the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner with a re-examination of our shared goals and creation of a joint action plan.
5.1 Provide details of your institution’s strategic KPIs for civic mission and public engagement
Over the RWIF period 2023 – 2028, our KPIs are as follows:
- At least two projects per year will be funded by the Civic Mission and Public Engagement Progression Fund.
- Demonstrate that our Civic Mission activity aligns with categories in the Universities Wales Civic Mission Framework, which incorporates the goals and ways of working of the Future Generations Act.
- Undertake one joint Civic Mission / Public Engagement activity per year in collaboration with at least one other Welsh HEI / FE provider (potentially via the South East Wales Civic Engagement Partnership).
- Achievement of our Public Engagement actions linked to the five themes of the Silver Watermark Award action plan:
- 2023-24: ‘Mission’: Public engagement is prioritised in the University’s official mission statement and other key strategies, with success indicators identified, and the narrative of the connection between public engagement and civic mission in University documents / communications is easily identified.
- 2024-25: ‘Leadership’: The Vice-Chancellor acts as a champion for public engagement and civic mission with a member from the University’s senior leadership team taking formal responsibility for public engagement and civic mission.
- 2025-26: ‘Recognition’: An application for a Gold Watermark Award is submitted.
- 2026-27: ‘Support’: An active community of practice inviting public engagement and civic mission practitioners throughout Wales to share and collaborate is developed.
- 2027-28: ‘Public’: The value of public interactions with research is to be showcased via an in-person event and case studies on the University’s website. Diversity and volume of participation, engagement and involvement from the public in research and innovation is increased as assessed via Equality Impact Assessments.
Section C: Alignment to policy and priorities
6. Alignment to Welsh and UK Policy
Describe how your RWIF strategy aligns with relevant place based regional, Welsh, and UK policies such as e.g. local city region / regional growth deals. (See Circular W23/12HE, paragraph 30) [500 words max]
Our strategy aligns with regional, Welsh, and UK policies, of which a number are highlighted here:
- Our strategic approach embodies the WG Innovation Strategy’s vision for innovation through embedding activities in an ecosystem promoting positive culture, equality of access to innovation and civic mission, and collaboration within and beyond our institution. Our innovation strengths and priorities align well with the WG’s four missions, for example, through our research and innovation centres of excellence such as the Net Zero, and Neuroscience and Mental Health UIIs (climate and nature, health and wellbeing), our civic mission themes of building Wales’ skills for the future, and catalysing Wales’ green recovery (education, health and wellbeing) and our increased capacity to embed commercialisation into staff and student activities, and our work with industry to boost regional skills and prosperity (economy).
- Our strategy aligns with the four pillars of the UK Government’s Innovation Strategy, in particular Pillars 3 & 4: Institutions & Places, and Missions & Technologies. As outlined in our strategy, we are working hard to ensure that our research and innovation serves the needs of a variety of organisations such as businesses (large, SME and microbusinesses), civic and community groups, as well as political and governmental bodies. Through our major strategic investments in our innovation institutes as well as externally funded initiatives such as our SiPF projects, we are stimulating innovation to tackle major challenges faced by the UK and the world. Our Digital Transformation UII acts as a convening hub for a wealth of University expertise seeking to drive capability in key technologies through responsible innovation.
- Our close working with Cardiff Capital Region recognises our synergy with their Regional Economic and Industrial Plan. Our innovation goals align with CCR’s key regional challenges: tackling economic disparities and boosting growth, enhancing innovation capability and capacity, decarbonising our environment by 2025, and improving our physical and digital infrastructure. This Regional Economic and Industrial Plan outlines key CCR achievements to date. A number of these achievements are either led by or involve Cardiff University. For example, the two UKRI SiPF awards (CSconnected and media.cymru), and the support for public sector organisations (e.g., local authorities) to become drivers of innovation through the Challenge Fund, which Cardiff University coordinates. We are working with CCR to ensure that the region becomes one that is competitive (e.g., through building innovation capability in our staff and students), connected (e.g., through investing in R&D that seeks new solutions to support a net zero transition in technologies related to energy, transport and logistics, amongst others) and resilient (e.g., through our work on improving skills, and working with local communities to ensure that their voices are heard and acted upon).
7. Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015
Provide specific information on how the RWIF strategy will support the seven goals, and five ways of working in the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015; [250 words max]
Examples of our alignment with the seven goals are:
A Healthier Wales – Our Neuroscience and Mental Health UII is developing innovative approaches to improve treatments and therapies for complex mental health and neurodegenerative conditions.
A Prosperous Wales – Our Institute of Compound Semiconductors and Cardiff Catalysis Institute will deliver technological innovation in healthcare, energy and communications.
A Resilient Wales – Our Net Zero UII is catalysing an interdisciplinary approach to realising net zero bringing together experts including the physical sciences, engineering, and social sciences.
A More Equal Wales and A Wales of Cohesive Communities – Our Social Science Research Park brings together 11 applied research centres seeking to improve equality and benefits to local communities.
A Wales of Vibrant Culture and Thriving Welsh Language – media.cymru provides innovative R&D support for SMEs, micro-businesses and freelancers to compete with global media companies, as well as promote the Welsh Language.
A Globally Responsible Wales – Our International Partnership with the University of Namibia underlies a long-lasting mutually beneficial relationship, which has delivered more than 30 joint activities.
Additionally, we will:
- involve and listen to ourexternal partners to ensure that we undertake meaningful collaboration aligned to their needs;
- balance short- and long-term needs through providing support for time-sensitive activities, while undertaking longer-term planning for sustainable interventions;
- ensure integration through the alignment of our innovation activities and delivery of outcomes with the seven Future Generations wellbeing goals;
- take preventative steps to identify and mitigate challenges related to our strategy monitoring and reviewing progress on a regular basis.
8. Impact on Welsh Language
Outline the positive impact RWIF investment will have on opportunities to use and support the Welsh language. Where appropriate you may wish to refer to the themes in the Cymraeg 2050 action plan.
[250 words max]
In addition to complying with Welsh Language Standards, we will seek additional ways to ensure that our RWIF activities have a positive impact on the opportunities to use and support the Welsh language.
Our established presence at the National Eisteddfod and the Urdd, which will continue through the new strategy period, provides a platform for our Welsh-speaking staff and students to communicate their research and innovation activities across Welsh-speaking communities, contributing to the Cymraeg 2050 Theme 2 of increasing the use of Welsh.
Our School Governors programme has provided targeted support for Welsh-speaking members of staff to become school governors in Welsh-medium schools. We delivered the first all-Wales bilingual e-learning module for new and recently recruited school governors in partnership with Governor Cymru Services and Governors for Schools. We will continue the project over the new period, with support for Welsh-speaking members of staff and Welsh-medium schools, linking to Theme 3 of Cymraeg 2050 to create favourable conditions – improving the socioeconomic infrastructure of Welsh speaking communities.
Our Innovation for All programme has supported several projects with an aim to increase the use of the Welsh language. For example, our project ‘Gwahaniaeth Mawr’ created previously unavailable Welsh-language resources and texts for medical students in Wales who are studying through the medium of Welsh, thus directly feeding into Theme 2 of Cymraeg 2050. We will continue to seek to support high-quality Welsh language-focused projects through our H-IAA funding and our Civic Mission and Public Engagement Progression Fund.
Section D: Use of Research Wales Innovation Funding
How is your RWIF allocation 2023/24 being used to deliver the strategy set out in Section B, and what are your anticipated priorities for the use of RWIF funds in future years? [250 words max – or append a table outlining broad investment areas]
RWIF 2023-24 investment areas:
33 members of staff whose salaries are wholly supported through RWIF funding:
|Civic Mission and Public Engagement Progression Fund
|Innovation and Impact Internships
|Research & Innovation costing and pricing system
In future strategy years, we will continue to support the staff above as they are central to providing sustained professional services innovation expertise and underpin our strategy delivery. We will continue membership of SETsquared and WIN. Evaluation of the CM and PE Progression Fund and I&I Internships will be undertaken at the end of 2023-24; provision in these areas will be adapted depending on the outcome. We will continue to co-fund our R&I costing and pricing system. If budget allows, we would invest further in our research and innovation centres of excellence.
Section E: Regulatory requirements
This strategy complies with Welsh Language Standards 2018
This strategy has been Equality Impact Assessed
This strategy will contribute towards the aims of the WFG Act 2015
I confirm that the University is committed to the principles of the Knowledge Exchange Concordat and is fully committed to its eight guiding principles.
26 June 2023