Businesses and individuals across Wales are being urged to embrace a new culture of innovation in order to add potentially billions of pounds to the country’s economy over the next decade and beyond.
The call comes today (Monday 2nd June) at the start of the Wales Festival of Innovation, from Ian Menzies, Chair of ESTnet, the Electronic and Software Technologies Network for Wales.
ESTnet, along with the Welsh Government and the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), who support the work of the Technology Strategy Board, are organising the two-week showcase of Welsh innovation comprising hi-tech factory open days, exhibitions, conferences, seminars and workshops for professionals, the general public and young people.
The aim is to raise awareness of Welsh-developed technology and stimulate a new wave of discovery and invention.
Mr Menzies said: “Wales can already claim credit for an amazing array of technologies, although that’s not always widely recognised. By highlighting what’s been achieved here we hope to motivate other talented people to bring forward, develop and commercialise their own ideas.”
He pointed to the UK Innovation survey which showed that just over 40% of Welsh firms with over 10 employees are ‘innovation active’ which means they regularly introduce new or significantly improved products and processes or engage in innovation projects. This is the third highest proportion of the 12 UK ‘regions.’
Mr Menzies who is also a senior director in Wales of hi-tech engineering giant, General Dynamics, added: “On the basis of what’s been achieved so far, I’m confident Wales has the talent and drive to become an international hub of original thinking and ground-breaking products and services. If we can build energetically upon the work to date and nurture a new culture of innovation this could earn the Welsh economy billions of pounds extra and create thousands of new high-quality jobs,” he said.
Most recent figures from the UK Innovation survey show that 22.5% of Welsh company turnover was generated from new or significantly improved products and services, with 5.8% of total turnover coming from products that were totally new to the market.
Over the next fortnight nearly 40 events across Wales will highlight advances made by Welsh industry and academia and give businesses and individuals opportunities to become directly involved in new innovation projects with leading firms and agencies.
Micro-electronics, leading-edge medical devices, advanced software, robotics and next generation nuclear energy are among a host of topics on the festival programme. Manufacturing facilities, universities and research centres will be throwing open their doors to show both professionals and young people first-hand the projects that give Wales a powerful stake in the future of many branches of science and enterprise.
Among the events are open days at leading edge companies such as Rockwool at Bridgend, whose manufacturing recycling technology leads the world and Microvisk in St Asaph whose unique micro-viscometer, based on novel, patented Micro Electro Mechanical Sensor (MEMS) Technology. MEMS Technology has the potential to be utilised in many different market sectors with its first application being in products for the medical field.
A special day-long conference in Cardiff on 11th June will focus on Wales’ contribution to the sophisticated sensor technology in the Bloodhound; the world’s fastest car. Also on show to the public will be the new product development work of Coleg Menai’s Food Technology Centre at Llangefni and the work on the use of sensors in healthcare at Swansea University’s Centre for NanoHealth.
Events in different parts of Wales will enable ambitious small and medium sized businesses the opportunity to talk to major companies such as General Dynamics and Costain and government agencies about financial support and partnership opportunities to pursue projects to develop new technology.
Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport said: “We have first class academia for research and development, cutting-edge technologies and pioneering people and businesses leading the way. Promoting further innovation is a top priority for the Welsh Government and we have key programmes in place to achieve that. The Wales Festival of Innovation is a great way to get the message across that we are very much open for business.”
Dr Steve Welch, domain director of the KTN said: “It has been very encouraging to work with such a broad spectrum of organisations in Wales who have a track record of successful innovation and have the ideas and the energy to create much more in the future. We hope that highlighting their work will prompt others to adopt the same creative and forward-looking approach while at the same time helping facilitate opportunities to connect businesses to drive innovation.”
For more information about events during the Wales Festival of Innovation visit: www.festivalofinnovation.org.