Energising a Hi-Tech Future for Welsh Businesses; Chairman of the Welsh Electronics Forum Dr Drew Nelson Believes the Technology Sector in Wales Is in Good Shape, but That to Maintain a Competitive Edge It Needs to Take Advantage of Opportunities and Form Alliances

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Byline: Dr Drew Nelson

THE speed and innovation shown by companies like Cardiff-based G24i in search of alternative or renewable energy sources (solar, wind and hydro) and the impact of technologies such as solid state lighting (LEDs, etc) on energy use in the global lighting market, is little short of amazing.

However, the introduction of new and exciting technologies or devices is not enough to get the real measure of this pivotal industry or demonstrate that it has the stamina and support to carry us through the next decade.

The Electronics Leadership Council (ELC), charged with providing focused and high-profile leadership for the UK electronics sector, sets out to determine just that.

In its recently published annual report Shaping the future of UK electronics which reviews 2007, the Electronics Leadership Council emphasises the role of the industry as a major enabler for enterprise today and calls for better co-ordination, representation and support.

In Wales, much has already been done to achieve this.

For example, we celebrated the first anniversary of the Welsh Manufacturing Forum earlier this year - the body whose remit it is to speak formally to the Assembly on behalf of all manufacturers - a role called for by the Welsh Electronics Forum nearly five years ago.

Similarly, Dr Chris Young, chief executive of the Welsh Electronics Forum, was appointed as vice-chair of the UK Electronics Alliance to ensure that Wales is heard on the UKstage too. The forum is represented on the Electronics Regulatory Group established by the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) to help ensure that technology businesses in Wales are kept fully in the picture when it comes to new regulation.

In terms of its monetary and human contribution, the technology industry continues to have a sizeable impact on the Welsh economy and we have witnessed a number of successful start-ups, expansions and flotations of tech-savvy firms such as AOI Medical and moneysupermarket.com in recent months.

Yet, we need to ensure that those in government do not over look the industry's role in the creation of a stable and growing economy in favour of a more vertical market approach. As such we will heed the recommendations of the Electronics Leadership Council and celebrate our many successes and continue to emphasise our position as a major enabler for most other markets today.

The report also highlights the ability of the industry to provide solutions to many of the societal challengeswewill face over the coming years.

These challenges include the provision of more effective, energy-saving devices; reducing the carbon footprint of companies and improved security measures.

So it was encouraging to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alastair Darling reiterating this in his Budget announcement earlier this month when he called on carbon emission targets to be brought forward and the announcement of new targets to make all new non-domestic building zero-carbon by 2019. …