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Find and fund innovation ‘hot spots’ to boost Welsh economy

28 June 2017


Finding and funding future ‘innovation hot spots’ is vital for business growth across Wales, argues a report published today.

And stronger partnerships between businesses and universities are the key to making it happen, experts say.

Professor Kevin Morgan, lead author of Growing the Value of University-Business Interactions in Wales, said: “Wales needs to bring business and universities together to exploit great research. The lack of long-term vision and ambition weakens and dissipates the efforts both are making.

"Future innovation ‘hot spots’ must be identified through strategic collaboration. The approach taken to develop the Institute for Compound Semiconductors at Cardiff University might act as a blueprint for the development of ‘hot spots’ involving key sectors, businesses and Welsh universities."

Professor Kevin Morgan Professor of Governance and Development

The report argues Welsh universities have been at a competitive disadvantage to UK peers since the cancellation of innovation and engagement funding in 2014. Welsh Government is currently considering reinstating support under proposals outlined in its response to the 2016 Diamond Review.

Sponsored by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and published by the Growing Value Wales (GVW) Taskforce, Professor Morgan’s report calls for practical ways of teaming talented university researchers with ground-breaking research and development businesses.

Championed by senior figures across university and business sectors in Wales, and developed by the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), GVW seeks to develop an online portal that helps businesses find expertise, identify collaborative projects, highlight strong ‘case studies’ and offer guidance on working together.

GVW is chaired by Dr Drew Nelson, CEO of Cardiff-headquartered IQE plc, and Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University.

“Growing Value Wales is designed to offer practical help and guidance to policy makers, businesses and the higher education sector and create a simplified ecosystem where industry and research can better collaborate.”

Professor Colin Riordan Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University

Be The Spark

Today’s report complements the launch of ‘Be The Spark’. Supported by Welsh Government, Be The Spark brings nine leading figures from Welsh business, academia and finance together with 300 leaders in Wales to offer inspirational leadership, develop innovation and entrepreneurship, and transform Wales into a world-class destination for companies of all sizes.

“The launch of ‘Be The Spark’ and the publication of the GVW Report create a strong joint platform for future success, inspiring individuals and developing collaborations that can make a difference to all our lives by creating economic and social prosperity.”

Ken Skates Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure

Dr Drew Nelson added: “Wales has a great track record for entrepreneurship and innovation. By launching Growing Value Wales alongside ‘Be The Spark,’ we hope to unleash latent talent in our universities, team it with industry, and seamlessly develop really powerful partnerships for growth.”

David Docherty, Chief Executive of the NCUB, said: “We established the GVW Task Force to support the innovation system in Wales through closer business-university-government partnerships. This report shows clearly the pressing need to support these collaborations in a post-Brexit world.”

The GVW Taskforce builds on the work of the UK-wide Enhancing Value Task Force that fed into the science policy and spending review of 2012 and Growing Value: Scotland and its legacy programme Growing Potential: Scotland’s Innovation Step-Change, exploring how universities, business and government partner to enable a step-change in business R&D and innovation.