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Cardiff joins EADS and Welsh Government to drive technological innovation

15 June 2011

Cardiff University Logo

The University has joined with the Welsh Government and EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services, in setting up a not-for-profit limited company to take forward research and technology projects.

The first of its kind in the UK, EADS Foundation Wales is an academic, government and industry partnership which has already created a number of private sector research jobs and supported research and development with partners in the SME sector and other universities across Wales.

The Foundation will now set aside a considerable fund - £500,000 initially – each year to support new R&D ideas emerging from the SME community and university sector. Companies and higher education institutions will be able to bid for funding for their research, or apply for grants.

EADS and Welsh Government are the funding partners, with the University as a founding partner representing academia in Wales on the Foundation’s Board. The University has been working with Welsh Government and EADS since 1997 to pilot the Foundation.

First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, described the Foundation as a highly innovative partnership between the private and public sectors and academia: "It is essential we increase the rate of research and development undertaken in Wales to ensure businesses remain innovative and competitive so they can drive economic growth.

"The Foundation is designed to stimulate investment in this area in sectors that are strategically important for the economy. It will directly support a range of businesses and research establishments with the aim of enhancing the technological base of Wales and increasing high quality employment."

EADS Foundation Wales will focus on research and development in fields linked to the digital economy, low carbon energy and advanced engineering and manufacturing. In particular, it will focus on the high priority areas of secure mobile and wireless communication; creative industries; opportunities from large-scale renewable electricity; advanced materials – including composites; and autonomous systems

Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant, said: "This partnership has already broken new ground in knowledge exchange and defined an entirely new approach to how universities, business and regional government can work together for mutual benefit. The University is pleased to be a founding partner in EADS Foundation Wales and to be working with the Welsh Government and EADS in delivering significant programmes of fundamental and applied research that will result in positive economic impact, not only in Wales but also across Europe and beyond."

The range of R&D programmes supported by the Foundation already underway in laboratories in Cardiff University includes ‘APOLLO’, a programme based in Cardiff School of Psychology which will input to the next generation of lie detector technologies. With the support of EADS and the Welsh Government, the University is also currently constructing a new and cutting-edge laboratory which will simulate and evaluate the effect of lightning strikes on the next generation of composite aircraft.

The Welsh Government and EADS have each committed a minimum of £900,000 annually for the next five years to fund programmes managed and identified within the agreed operational governance system.

Dr Mark Bentall, Chief Technology Officer at Cassidian Systems, an EADS company with its UK base in Newport, said: "This [Foundation] will allow us to demonstrate that as a ‘Small, Clever Country’, Wales is prepared to innovate and do things differently, at the same time sending out messages that will resonate strongly with strategic investors considering Wales as a place to do business.

"What emerges is a committed single enterprise, with an agreed governance regime and budget, all geared to address an agreed technology road map. The Foundation acts as a research commissioning agency for the mutual benefit of Wales and EADS as the industrial partner. This is no longer an experiment but a long lasting, strategic R&T driver for Wales."

The establishment of EADS Foundation Wales was marked at a Gala Dinner at the National Museum of Wales. The guest speaker was Professor Robert Winston.

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