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Report backs innovation deal for Wales

26 March 2018

Creative Cardiff VR

A new pact between universities, business and government is urgently needed to speed up innovation in Wales, according to a report published today.

Analysis published by National Centre for Universities and Business says Wales needs a shared sense of common purpose to quickly turn research into products, processes and spin-out companies that grow prosperity.

It argues a global shift towards data analytics, quantum computing and Artificial Intelligence, has sharpened the need to bind administrators, academics and entrepreneurs together to foster future prosperity.

‘Making the Connection - a New National Innovation Compact for Wales’ calls for greater Quality Research (QR) funding from Welsh Government to bring ideas to market. Published by the Growing Value Wales Task Force – a group of experts established in 2016 - the report highlights the need for:

  • A new ‘compact’ between government, universities, businesses and other stakeholders in Wales to align interests, build high-quality communications and sustain excellent relationships;
  • Increasing and amplifying QR funding from Welsh Government, using the Reid Review of government-funded research and innovation in Wales as a vehicle;
  • Help from Welsh Government to de-risk and speed up work at on-campus joint research and development hot-spots focused on emerging technologies and major challenges (such as ageing); and
  • More effective work by universities to match the skills needs of employers through co-designed curricula, life-long reskilling, and continuous professional development.

The report has been led by Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor and President of Cardiff University, and Dr Drew Nelson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cardiff-headquartered IQE PLC – the global leader in the design and manufacture of advanced semiconductor wafer products.

“Stakeholders in Wales must come together in a spirit of co-production to promote self-reliance as a proud nation, and to find ways of taking advantage of the opportunities in post-Brexit Britain,” said Professor Riordan.

Dr Nelson added: “Funding streams such as the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, City/Region Deals, the pledged UK Shared Prosperity Fund, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Welsh Government innovation initiatives will be more powerful, transformational and effective for the Welsh economy if the various agencies and actors involved co-ordinate their efforts.”

The report calls for a National Innovation Compact that is enduring (five years minimum) and reports back to an Innovation Compact Commission, composed of leaders drawn from across the Welsh spectrum of government, businesses, public and third sector, as well as vice-chancellors and heads of schools and colleges.

Professor Graeme Reid led a review of research and innovation for the Welsh Government.

“There are some wonderful relationships between businesses and universities in Wales.  This report provides the vision to create even more of them and make them even better.”

David Docherty, Chief Executive of the National Centre for Universities and Business, said: “Since the NCUB’s Growing Value Wales Task Force brought together senior leaders in 2016, the economic landscape has radically shifted, both in the context of Brexit and in terms of global trends driven by technology.

“In Wales, a new Economic Prosperity plan has been launched, City Deals are being agreed and funding arrangements for higher education and research and innovation are in flux. There’s never been a better time to work with a shared sense of common purpose to build wider prosperity.”