St David's Day Group: Boost for Wales’ innovation culture

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All-Wales project to increase technology transfer between Welsh universities and business

A new initiative to transfer more of Wales’ cutting-edge university research into business to help boost Wales’ economy and build an ‘innovation culture’ has received a funding boost from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW).

The HEFCW funded project will see Wales’ leading St David’s Day Group of research intensive universities - Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Bangor, Glamorgan and Swansea – join forces to create a new network of staff to better identify, protect and commercialise Wales’ leading research.

The project will strengthen the group’s capabilities in the commercialisation of intellectual property and create an effective network to increase technology transfer between universities and Welsh businesses in support of the Welsh Government’s aims. 

It will also forge close links with key industry sectors in Wales in order to create an integrated structure for the commercialisation of new technologies within Wales and internationally.

“Welsh universities already have a tradition for turning new technology and ideas from an academic setting into new and cutting-edge businesses – but we must do more,” according to Cardiff University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Enterprise, Professor Chris McGuigan.  

“The new St David’s Day Group project – the first of its kind for the Group – will help bring Wales’ leading research intensive universities together to create a team capable of firstly identifying and then increasing technology transfer.

”Over the lifetime of the project, it will also help members of the St David’s Day Group forge closer links with key industry sectors in Wales – which is to be warmly welcomed,” he added.  

Dr David Blaney, Chief Executive of HEFCW, said: “I am pleased that the universities of the St David’s Day Group have come together to explore new models for commercialising intellectual property in Wales.

“The IP system is invaluable in translating the research work done in universities into something tangible that can also reap economic benefits or have positive implications for society more widely.

“The expertise required to do this is not inconsiderable. Creating a network of Technology Transfer Officers will not only benefit the universities involved and the companies or organisations they work with; it will also hit one of the key priorities set out in the Welsh Government’s Science For Wales strategy, and ensure that the wider economy derives maximum benefit from IP produced in Wales’s universities.”

Cardiff University - which leads the project – already has a number of successful technology transfer companies.

One such company is in the field of telecommunications.

Mesuro is a spin-out from the University’s School of Engineering, which commercialises a new generation of measurement systems for the wireless communications industry.   

Developed over more than a decade, and involving collaborations with the wireless and communication industry, the technology was taken to market with seed and growth capital investment as well as support from Fusion IP, Cardiff’s commercialisation partner, Finance Wales and ERA Foundation.

Professor McGuigan added: “Within a short period of time, Mesuro was able to commercialise its research through the creation of a Cardiff University spin-out company.

“The technology developed is unique to Cardiff and to Wales and tackles real-world problems. Thanks to this technology, mobile phone manufacturers are able to make their power amplifiers operate closer to theoretical maximum efficiency, something which has not previously been possible.

“The technology has not only changed this industry, but created highly skilled jobs in Wales, graduate employment and secured sales of more than £1.2M in the last 12 months alone.

“There are countless other examples of success stories like this across the St David’s Day Group of Universities – however, with this new funding it will help us do even more.

“As the first major initiative for the St David’s Day Group it will also help forge links between the universities across all parts of Wales, help consolidate the strengths of each and provide a platform for future knowledge transfer activities across Wales.”

The St David's Day Declaration was signed in 2009 by Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Bangor, Glamorgan and Swansea universities. The declaration marked a new chapter in supporting the knowledge economy in Wales.

Working together as five universities they represent over 70% of all students in Wales and more than 95% of the nation’s research activity.

Building on their combined strengths, the declaration aims to bring together the five Universities and use the talents of staff and students to help drive forward the knowledge economy in Wales.