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Wales showcases commitment to innovation and collaboration in Europe

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Welsh universities’ research and innovation was in the spotlight yesterday as senior officials from across the world gathered in Brussels to gain insight into the Welsh R&I sector and celebrate St David’s Day as part of Welsh Government’s St David’s Day Brussels 2024 programme.

Hosted by the Wales Innovation Network (WIN) and Welsh Higher Education Brussels (WHEB), and supported by the Global Wales (funded by Taith) programme, the event on 28 February highlighted the strength and breadth of research and innovation taking place in Welsh universities.

The event emphasised Wales’ dedication to working with partners across Europe and celebrated the association of the UK to the Horizon programme. Welsh universities have continued to establish their presence in Europe through the WHEB office and initiatives such as the partnership between FWO and Global Wales.

The reception showcased Wales’ research and innovation strengths, including decarbonisation, agri-tech, and semiconductor technology. These are areas where Wales can be at the heart of European research and innovation, offering key partnership opportunities to drive forward our economies and societies.

In a speech to attendees, which included key stakeholders, university leaders, and thought leaders in the research and innovation sector including Matthias De Moor, General Representative of Flanders to the EU, the First Minister of Wales, Rt Hon Mark Drakeford highlighted Wales’ readiness to actively participate in Horizon Europe, utilising its rich talent, resources, and ideas to drive forward groundbreaking research initiatives that benefit economy and society.

Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister of Wales, said:

“One of the most remarkable characteristics of our universities is how well they deliver research considered to have an internationally excellent impact. Partnership and collaboration are at the heart of this success – innovation does not happen in isolation.

“While the pandemic and Brexit have affected the global connections of many researchers, Welsh universities remain committed to collaborating with European partners. Now we are fully associated with the Horizon Europe programme, we have a major opportunity to strengthen international partnerships, attract global talent and carry out cutting-edge science and innovation that deliver tangible benefits to society in Wales and beyond.”

Professor Paul Boyle, Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University and Chair of Universities Wales and WIN, said:

“In Wales, we have a long tradition of engaging effectively with EU programmes and are proud of the strength of collaboration across our nation, within the UK and with partners globally. I am delighted that, through this event in Brussels, we were able to showcase the impact of this commitment to partnership, while demonstrating the diversity of the Welsh research and innovation sector.

“We remain eager to collaborate with European partners, following the UK’s association with Horizon Europe, and – by championing collaboration, embracing diversity, and driving innovation – we are confident that the Welsh R&I sector can continue to make a significant contribution to shaping the global research landscape.”

The event provided an opportunity for the Wales Innovation Network to showcase the work that it carries out to European partners. WIN is an innovative collaboration between Welsh universities which facilitates collaborative working across universities in Wales, harnessing the diversity of research and innovation in Wales to create economic and societal impact for this and future generations.

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