New £21m networks to boost world-class scientific research in Wales
Science Minister Edwina Hart today (13 March) marked the completion of the first phase of the Welsh Government’s £50m Sêr Cymru programme to bring scientific talent to Wales, with the launch of three National Research Networks.
The networks, that will receive £21m programme funding, will build on Wales’ world-class research in discovering new medicines, innovative engineering and tackling the challenges of green energy.
A recent report found the quality of scientific research produced in Wales outperforms most similar sized countries in the world, but more researchers are needed. The Sêr Cymru National Research Networks will increase research investment in the three Grand Challenge areas, identified as having the greatest potential for Wales.
Professor Javier Bonet heads up the Advanced Engineering and Materials Network, based at Swansea University and Professors Malcolm Mason and Chris McGuigan are directors of the Life Sciences and Health Network based at Cardiff University. Professor David N Thomas appointment as chair of the Low Carbon, Energy and the Environment Network to be based at Bangor and Aberystwyth University completes the three networks.
This follows the appointment of three world-renowned Professors as Sêr Cymru Research Chairs in each of the three Grand Challenge subject areas.
Each network will develop collaborative research projects in their subject area between higher education institutions and other organisations across Wales and beyond. Each receives £7m Welsh Government funding to appoint PhD students and fellows to develop new research and attract more investment to Wales.
Speaking at today’s launch at Bangor University, Minister for Economy and Science, Edwina Hart said: “Science and innovation are key pillars of a thriving economy. Boosting our science research capability is vital to improving our economic wellbeing and securing a more prosperous future for Wales. Researchers in Wales are amongst the best in the world for the sums invested. The Sêr Cymru Networks seek to increase that investment in Welsh science by supporting and growing research excellence.”
Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales, Professor Julie Williams said: “As the Elsevier report demonstrated we already have excellent, high quality research taking place here in Wales but we need more of it. These networks will help us achieve that in areas that have the potential to create long-term, lasting economic and social benefits for Wales and beyond. They are already working on some exciting projects. For example these networks are researching grasses which can absorb more water to reduce flooding, building materials that produce their own energy from the sun and novel treatments for some of the most challenging diseases we face.”
Publication date: 13 March 2014