National Research Network (NRN) in Advanced Engineering and Materials (AEM) to host First Major Engineering Event for Wales on industry academia collaboration

The Sêr Cymru National Research Network (NRN) in Advanced Engineering and Materials (AEM) hosts ‘Engineering Wales’ this October to showcase the best of engineering innovation and enhance the interaction between academia and industry.

Engineering WalesEngineering in Wales has long been celebrated from the copper industry to reigning supreme in iron exports; Wales’ rich history in engineering has come to define the country’s economic and geographical landscape.

Now, with the onset of advanced engineering continuing this legacy, the future of pioneering new materials will continue to make Wales a land of opportunity for future infrastructure investments in addition to boosting its innovative research within Welsh Higher Education Institutes.

In 2015, with support from EU funding, an estimated total of £663[1] million was spent on research and development within Wales. With the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s access to future European funding streams and programmes after leaving the EU, and with changes in the funding landscape being introduced by the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy, it has never been more important for industry and academia to work together to ensure Wales’ RD&I capabilities are exploited to their maximum for commercial and societal benefit.

A key part of this is ensuring that Wales continues to capitalise on its academic research by turning blue-sky thinking across specialist areas such as engineering and technology into products and services it can bring to market, with the benefits from this commercialisation being re-invested in research and innovation.

Engineering Wales will be a first event of its kind for Wales, designed to explore breakthrough science from across Welsh Universities, namely Swansea, Cardiff and Bangor whilst also providing companies with a platform to expand their ideas to scientific researchers, giving an indication of how blue sky research can often act as a catalyst in fulfilling a company’s needs on both a commercial and economic front.

“Research and Innovation is vital for ensuring the continuing strength of our industrial base in Advanced Engineering and Materials. It enables wealth creation through the manufacture of high quality products at reduced cost and ensures that Wales remains competitive in a global market place. 

“A vibrant research and innovation ecosystem is essential for Wales’ economic prosperity and helps create well paid and highly skilled jobs for young industrialists, technologists and apprentices within Wales. This is strengthened through industry and academia working together and my challenge to these sectors is to drive these collaborations hard towards a brave new future of prosperity for all.”

Wales’ Skills and Science Minister, Julie James

The NRN AEM is a well-established network working to champion the ideals of this industry-academia collaboration as it continually exposes the benefits that cross skills can have to the ever changing face of science, manufacturing and production.

The network has invested in 62 research projects across a number of themes from sensors and devices through to modelling and materials – the NRN AEM also has an expanding industrial arm working with many manufacturing giants such as National Grid, TATA Steel, Qioptiq, IQE, BT and Huawei to name a few.

The event will also host an array of workshops and talks centred on the key thematic areas of modelling, materials, knowledge transfer as well as sensors and devices ranging from discussions on the future of manufacturing in Wales from Swansea University based project IMPACT to BT highlighting the future of optical communication systems in Wales.

“We need to appreciate the real strength and breadth of engineering research that we have here in Wales; and Engineering Wales gives the opportunity for academics and industrialists alike to see the efforts that are made and successes that we have in bringing universities and industrialists together to really promote a joint research and forge a collaborative working pattern between the two.”

 - Prof Huw Summers, Director of Sêr Cymru NRN AEM, Swansea University

As major industrial development programmes advance whilst others are set launch in the near future there is now an opportunity for Wales to forge a unique research and development infrastructure - optimising the cohesiveness of its university sector and the long established industrial focus of its Engineering colleges.

One potential development programme is Tidal Lagoon Power, who will lead a talk at the event, will discuss the challenges that marine energy faces at present within the UK as well as highlighting opportunities that engineering science such as this brings to enriching the economic landscape within a country - balancing innovative science with the impact it could have upon the sustainment of the environment’s ecological balance.

“UK millers were harnessing the power of our tides almost 1000 years ago. Today, Wales is on the brink of an industrial and engineering revolution. Working with industry and academia, we are focussed on delivering a new tidal lagoon industry that is at the forefront of engineering science and global technology to generate industrial growth, facilitate community regeneration and deliver one of the cheapest forms of sustainable new power in the UK.

Our work with Universities is a key part of our strategy and we are therefore delighted to be supporting Engineering Wales; an event that really will showcase the international scientific capabilities that we are proud to be a part of.”

- Ton Fijen, Technical Director, Tidal Lagoon Power

Engineering Wales will take place on Wednesday 18th October 2017 at the Mercure Holland House Hotel, Cardiff.

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