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Supporting Wales’ brightest minds

12 November 2012

Supporting Wales’ brightest minds

Business Minister Edwina Hart AM has welcomed the announcement of further funding to support the most talented researchers in Wales.

The continuation and expansion of the Welsh Crucible, a programme of personal, professional and leadership development for promising research leaders of the future, has been secured thanks to additional two-year funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the St David's Day Group of universities.

The £225,000 funding will ensure even more of the brightest minds from all disciplines will be able to come together to explore and expand their creative capacity and problem-solving potential, and ultimately to help tackle some of the economic, environmental and social challenges facing society.

Speaking at a celebration event in the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, Business Minister Edwina Hart said: "Initiatives like Welsh Crucible, that will develop researchers in many different environments, are key activities for now and in the future and fits well with our ambitions for science in Wales, and has my wholehearted support.

Based on a partnership between Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, Glamorgan and Swansea universities the Welsh Crucible was originally made available to the St David's Day group of research universities and researchers working in SMEs. The further funding will mean that the Welsh Crucible is now open to anyone doing excellent research in Wales in Welsh universities, public, private and third sector organisations.

"I am pleased to see the Welsh Crucible will soon be open, not only to all of our universities, but to our entire research community, including people working in industry and the public sector.

"Getting the best from both worlds by blending the more academic rigour and excellence with more specific industrial research skills and capabilities will be key to the future economic prosperity of Wales."

A number of exciting and innovative interdisciplinary and cross institutional collaborations have already been created across Wales, leading to home-grown innovations such as a 'smart pill' to help diagnose gastro-intestinal disorders; a digital app to tackle obesity; and an iPad application to enable non-experts to understand the consequences of climate change in the coastal zone.

Chair of the Welsh Crucible Steering Group, Professor Peter Halligan, and Dean of Interdisciplinary Studies at Cardiff University, said: "This is excellent news for Wales. As universities in Wales remain one of the few indigenous engines of research and innovation on any significant scale, we have a pivotal role to play in building a strong and dynamic research base that is able to support the economic and national development of Wales. This additional funding means that we are able to provide the nation's future research leaders with a career enhancing programme. Unlike more traditional courses, the ultimate success of the programme will be measured by the number of innovative collaborations and partnerships, many of which are already beginning to emerge between researchers."

David Blaney, Chief Executive of the Higher Funding Council for Wales, said: "HEFCW is delighted to support this innovative and important initiative. Welsh Crucible is performing a valuable role in promoting a culture of cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional working among early to mid career researchers in Wales, which is increasingly essential for high quality research performance. We have been very encouraged by Welsh Crucible's achievements to date, and by the obvious enthusiasm of the participants, and we look forward to its continued success."

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