The importance of Welsh universities as being the catalyst for the future economic prosperity of the nation was underlined today when the first project to be approved in the latest round of £2bn EU funding programmes 2014-20 was from one of Wales’s universities – Aberystwyth University’s Innovation and Enterprise Campus.
The project at the Gogerddan Campus, with an estimated value of more than £35m, will see the construction of a new state-of-the-art, internationally recognised facility to attract further research funding so that companies and researchers can undertake collaborative research projects to boost the bio-economy. The research is expected to generate innovative new products, services and spin-out companies in sustainable food, health, biotechnology and renewable energy sectors.
Welsh Government Finance and Government Business Minister, Jane Hutt said “I am delighted to announce this EU investment for Aberystwyth University, which marks a significant milestone being the first scheme to be awarded EU funds from the new EU programmes 2014-2020. These programmes will greatly benefit Wales, helping us to continue to achieve our goals of building a thriving and prosperous economy. We will utilise EU Funds to drive research and innovation, boost businesses, increase renewable energy and energy efficiency as well as support infrastructure, skills and help people into work.
“This first EU investment will help build a world-class facility to attract private and competitive research funding so that Wales can lead the way in developing new cutting edge technologies, products and services in the biosciences sector, which is vital for increasing jobs and growth in the knowledge economy of our nation.”
The Innovation and Enterprise Campus is a prime example of how Welsh universities are ideally placed to utilise EU funding to drive jobs and growth in the knowledge economy and create a skilled, agile and entrepreneurial workforce. Recent studies show that our universities create some £3.6bn annually for the economy, generate over 38,000 jobs and that for every £100m invested in higher education, a further £103m is generated within the wider Welsh economy. It is vital therefore that Welsh universities remain able to push the boundaries of research to continue to create transformational changes within the Welsh economy, which will ultimately benefit all parts of society.