Wales 'Needs a Policy on Science to Boost Innovation'

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Wales 'Needs a Policy on Science to Boost Innovation'


Byline: By DAVID WILLIAMSON Western Mail

An intelligent Assembly Government science policy is needed if Wales' most creative companies are going to become successful enterprises, according to leading experts in the field. Lyn Rees, sales and marketing director of British Biocell International - the Cardiff-based designer of diagnostics technology - said companies such as his could have made a greater impact earlier in their history if they had been able to access appropriate commercial advice.

There was immense potential, he said, for partnerships between innovative companies and academia, but such initiatives were hamstrung in Wales by bureaucracy and inexperience.

His comments came as the First Minister launched a consultation to ask if the Assembly Government should start to formulate a science policy.

In the foreword to the consultation document, Mr Morgan says, 'Whereas 30 plus years ago, when the UK joined the then Common Market, Wales could legitimately claim to be the lowest cost location for Japanese multinationals to assemble television sets and microwave ovens inside the EEC tariff barriers, it certainly is not true now.

'The Far East tiger economies are industrialising and developing fast with the aim that in thirty years time, China will be the world's factory and India will be the world's office.

'What therefore is Wales' future except in the knowledge economy, enriched by science and technology and able to develop specialist niches in products and services that are ahead of the game?

The chances of achieving success in this direction would be much improved if we can marry specialist strengths in science and technology in the higher education sector with private sector strengths in the same science and technology fields.'

A future science policy is likely to focus on health developments, low-carbon energy systems, and using expertise in the natural and social sciences to create economic and social renewal.

Mike Wilkinson, vice president of marketing at Newport Networks, said the key priority of a policy had to be to ensure a steady supply of graduates.

The company is at the forefront of merging traditional telephone systems with the latest internet communications technology.

He said, 'What you're looking for is raw talent that we can inject into the business.'

Mr Wilkinson said he would also like to see evidence that the Assembly Government understood just how pivotal the work being done in the communications sector in Wales was to the future of the internet worldwide.

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