Funding a Fresh Wave of Research Collaboration; Pounds 7.4M SO FAR HAS ENCOURAGED COLLABORATION WITH BUSINESS

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Byline: SION BARRY

THE WELSH Assembly is looking to fund a new wave of innovative collaboration projects between business and academia.

Collaborative industrial research projects are designed to encourage companies and institutions to work together, to boost the level of business investment in R&D and bring new or improved products, processes and services to the market.

To date the Welsh Government's A4B (Academic Expertise of Business) programme has allocated pounds 7.4m in support of 35 collaborative industrial research projects.

The funding has enabled higher and further education institutions in Wales to increase the size and scale of collaborative projects by drawing in large companies and supply chains from Wales and further afield.

It has also helped to leverage further funding for projects.

Recently funded projects include the ground-breaking work led by Swansea University to develop respiratory aids which mimic the performance of healthy lungs. Industrial partners include Swansea-based companies Haemair, Haemaflow, DTR Medical and Staffordshire-based EGS Technologies.

Other examples include the "Grassohol" project at Aberystwyth University, which brings together farmers, technology companies, fuel companies and researchers to develop a new sustainable method of producing bio-fuel from perennial ryegrass.

The A4B programme is one of a number ofWelsh Government initiatives to help businesses become more innovative and competitive.

The six-year project was launched in 2008.

Business Minister Edwina Hart said: "We need to ensure Wales maximises the economic impact of its academic institutions and collaboration with industry is the key.

"A4B funding has been essential in facilitating a range of highly innovative projects that are geared to address areas of significant strategic importance to the Welsh knowledge economy."

This latest bidding round is specifically focused on academic institutions in convergence areas and all projects have to involve at least two industrial partners and clearly illustrate the potential benefits for business. …