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Why Wales needs more winning business teams

23 June 2015

Prof Kevin Morgan

Wales needs more winning business teams to drive growth across the country, says a top Cardiff University innovation specialist

Professor Kevin Morgan, Dean of Engagement, told the city's business leaders that while famous entrepreneurs may grab headlines, smart teams will always trump high-achieving individuals.

Professor Morgan believes creating the right conditions for innovation to flourish is more important than celebrating the achievements of lone business 'stars' like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or James Dyson.

Speaking at CoInnovate 2015 – a flagship Cardiff event designed to bring together world-leading business ideas and technologies - Professor Morgan told delegates: "Although there is a grain of truth in these accounts, they are often wide of the mark.

"Innovation is now recognised as a collective process where smart teamwork brings together a firm's workers and managers, corporate supply chains and in inter-organisational networks.

"Collaboration is needed because no single organisation can ever hope to absorb all the knowledge needed to create new technologies, products or services.

"Building collaboration requires trust, an intangible asset that has a high value but no price. Trust has to be acquired by discharging commitments to partners, and that takes time, patience and understanding. In the long run, high trust relationships save time and money, and they make for fast learning, because high trust partners share information and knowledge more readily."

Professor Morgan said collective working is central to Smart Specialisation, the EU's new regional innovation policy. All regions that hope to use Structural Funds up to 2020 are obliged to have a Smart Specialisation strategy, and Wales is no exception.

"Smart Specialisation calls for businesses and universities to be given parity with regional governments in the design and delivery of innovation projects. The role of regional governments will have to change from being the controller of regional innovation projects to being the curator, by brokering new partnerships and funding streams for example."

How will Smart Specialisation fare in Wales? Professor Morgan believes new core projects will grow at new innovation facilities which are springing up at universities including Bangor, Aberystwyth, Swansea and Cardiff, which is developing a £350m innovation campus.

"The centres will serve as a magnet for international talent and R&D investments like Horizon 2020," said Professor Morgan. "They will connect the worlds of government, business and civil society. Collaborative creativity could well serve as their motto."

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