'Wales Has to Be in at Forefront of Today's Knowledge Economy' LEADER IN BIOTECH FIELD UNVEILS PLAN FOR INDUSTRY

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Byline: ROBERT LLEWELLYN JONES

WALES needs a mix of brilliant science and experienced investment, biotech entrepreneur Sir Chris Evans claimed yesterday.

Speaking to the ACCA's St David's Day Business Breakfast, Port Talbot-born Sir Chris said he wanted to see Wales at the forefront of the biotechnology industry.

Sir Chris chairs the Welsh Government's external panel supporting the life sciences sector, and is due to unveil his plans for the future of the sector at the BioWales event later this month.

"It's all about vision and winning and I want to bring some of that to Wales," he said. "Over the next decade we want to build companies here in Wales and make sure they stay.

"Wales has to be in at the forefront of the 21st century's knowledge economy with its innovation and science. These must be mixed with experienced investment to make real money. So it's a combination of brilliant science and knowledgeable investment which in turn lead to brilliant enterprises."

Talking about the plans for the life sciences sector he is set to announce later this month, he said: "We are going to shock the Americans and Asians with what we are going to do here and it starts here with the resourcefulness and streetwise nature of our people.

"We have some clever, smart, people in our universities which in turn have their own vision."

However, he noted that there were significant challenges facing the life science sector in Wales, due to issues such as a lack of funding.

"There are some serious challenges there for us," he said.

"We have seen that after five years companies have gone to America. In the biotechnology sector most chief executives can't find the money to build their businesses. So it's a global thing."

"This is a good time for Wales to get its act together and in the next few years come up with something that's going to work," he said. …