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IWA joins society’s ‘Superlab’

17 March 2022

Wales’ leading independent think tank is joining sbarc|spark – the UK’s new societal ‘superlab’.

The Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) brings together experts from all backgrounds to conceive ambitious and informed ideas which secure political commitments to improve democracy, public services and our economy.

The IWA joins Nesta, Bipsync and RedKnight as new partners in the building, which opened on St David’s Day (1 March).

Director Auriol Miller said: “We are delighted to be joining the sbarc|spark community. As an independent organisation, co-locating in this fantastic new building will give us proximity to expert analysis and opinion, helping us build collaborative relationships to further develop, mobilise and disseminate our knowledge and research within the social, economic and political ecosystems in Wales.

Professor Damian Walford Davies, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University, said: “Cardiff’s societal and policy-related expertise has helped to shape the output of the IWA since it was founded 35 years ago, and senior Cardiff academics currently sit on its board of trustees. The move to sbarc|spark will further strengthen our collaboration as we work together to shape public policies that tackle a complex array of pressing societal challenges in Wales.”

Dedicated to making Wales better, the think tank and charity will take up space alongside 400 expert social science researchers who collectively make up SPARK – the Social Science Research Park – based in the building. SPARK’s 12 social science research centres, groups and institutes specialise in tackling societal challenges, from child health and obesity to climate change and crime and security.

Professor Chris Taylor, Director, SPARK, said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome the IWA to our sbarc|spark community. Their collaboration over the years with SPARK research centres and institutes has already proven to be of great success – including work on the foundational economy in Wales, the Curriculum for Wales, and the valuable resource, Understanding Welsh Places. We are very excited about the opportunities that membership of SPARK will bring to collaborating on future research and impact activities.”

SPARK’s researchers will share spaces with public, private and third sector partners to create, test and incubate fresh ideas that can help build a better society.

Featuring 12,000m sq of floor space across six storeys, with commercial units and lab spaces for spinouts and start-ups in Cardiff Innovations@sbarc, the building is the focal point for Cardiff’s collaborations and the largest innovation hub of its kind in Wales.

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