This week we welcome the ambition laid out by Welsh Government as they launch the new Innovation Strategy for Wales. This puts creating a strong, consistent and connected culture of innovation at the forefront of helping to enrich our health and wellbeing, economy and our environment.
The new cross-government vision of innovation for a stronger, fairer, greener Wales points the way to a different approach to innovation in the future. This integration will help make sure that that investment in research and innovation aligns in a consistent and co-ordinated way.
It adopts a 'mission-based' attitude and collaboration into the following four areas that can make an impact where it’s needed:
- Health and wellbeing: Wales’ health and social care system is facing unprecedented levels of demand. This mission will see it collaborate with industry, academia and the third sector to tackle these pressures. Such work can facilitate new ways of working that deliver greater value and impact for citizens. This will involve them working together and using innovation to transform key areas such as delayed transfers of care, community-based care provision, cancer and mental health services.
- Economy: this mission involves driving Wales forward to be a leading, innovation-based nation. This will see a Welsh economy that innovates for growth, collaborates across sectors for solutions to society’s challenges, adopts new technologies for efficiency and productivity, uses resources proportionately, and allows citizens to share wealth through fair work.
- Education: this mission helps ensure Wales has an education system that supports the development of innovation skills and knowledge throughout people’s lives in Wales. Such a focus helps cultivate the talent, enthusiasm and incredible potential of our young people who, in the future, will not only benefit the Welsh economy but can make a real impact on people’s lives.
- Climate and nature: this mission will involve optimising our natural resources for the protection and strengthening of climate and nature resilience. We will focus innovation efforts on tackling the climate and nature crises simultaneously, ensuring a just transition to a wellbeing economy.
CEO of Life Sciences Hub Wales, Cari-Anne Quinn, said:
“It’s great to see the importance of the Welsh life sciences sector being recognised as a key component in transforming Wales’ health and care system.
Collaboration plays a vital role in helping us understand and overcome the critical challenges facing health and social care. We’re committed to supporting this; acting as the dynamic interface that helps drive cutting-edge health innovation reach the frontline, in Wales and beyond.”
The strategy demonstrates the firm commitment that Welsh Government will seek to drive up investment from the UK Government and beyond in Welsh research, development and innovation (RD&I). Welsh Government will work closely with UK innovation agencies where shared ambitions exist, aligned to their stated intention to significantly increasing RD&I investment outside London and south-east England.
In addition, the Minister confirmed the Welsh Government’s SMART flexible innovation support will no longer be restricted to businesses and research organisations. Any organisation wishing to engage in RD&I can access this support, including third sector, local authorities, and health boards.
Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:
“This Innovation Strategy is being launched at a crucial time for our country. As existing EU-funded programmes end this year and uncertainty over our participation in future EU scientific initiatives still in doubt, the research, development, and innovation landscape of Wales will change.
The UK’s departure from the EU means Wales is losing money and control, and now has less say over less money. So, this strategy aims to guide us to a different approach to innovation. We cannot compete on all areas, but we can choose missions that maximise our strengths and create new opportunities for public good.
Our missions span many sectors and the challenges we face. Innovation is for all of us, everyone in Wales should have the opportunity to participate in innovation, and to benefit from it.
The Welsh Government is determined and resolute in supporting all stakeholders to deliver genuine innovation and act as a crucible, using its convening power to bring about the collaboration within the ecosystem that’s necessary to help us achieve our ambitions.”
The Welsh Government will shortly publish a supplementary action plan, which will include specific and measurable goals, to take forward each of the missions.