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New £30m funds launched to boost innovation in Wales

The Welsh Government is investing £30m in new programmes that will help Welsh organisations develop and embed new innovative products and services to help improve people’s lives, grow the economy and address the climate and nature emergency, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething and Climate Change Minister, Julie James have announced today.

The SMART Flexible Innovation Support (SMART FIS) Programme, which is now open for applications, will help Welsh businesses, research organisations, academia and public and third sector bodies to innovate, create new products and services, and improve skills, helping to develop RD&I capability and capacity to support sustainable growth.

Investment will be targeted towards activity which will help deliver the missions laid out in the Welsh Government’s new innovation strategy, Wales Innovates.

The programme will help organisations achieve “Innovation Excellence” by developing Innovation Plans and proposals, working alongside a team of specialists who provide expertise, consultants and funding.

Unlike previous programmes, SMART Flexible Innovation Support is not restricted to businesses and research organisations – it is open to any organisation with eligible projects which help deliver the missions in our innovation strategy, such as the third sector, local authorities, and health boards.

The Welsh Government is also today launching the next round of the Circular Economy Innovation Fund. Ministers are investing £10m in the fund over the next two years (2023/24 and 2024/25).

In line with the Welsh Government’s Net Zero Wales and circular economy strategy, Beyond Recycling, this funding will support investment in manufacturing processes to increase the use of recycled and re-used content in products or components, or to extend the lifetime of products and materials. Businesses can apply for up to £200,000 in funding to support this activity.

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said:

“The Welsh Government is committed to stimulating innovation to improve the lives of people across Wales. We’re doing that by building a Welsh economy based on the principles of sustainability, fair work and on developing the industries and services of the future.

“The innovation strategy I launched earlier this year set out how we are using innovation to create a stronger, fairer, and greener Wales by supporting private, public and third sector organisations to design and deliver solutions to some of the major challenges facing our society.

“The new funds we are launching today will help turbo-charge innovations in Wales by supporting organisations to develop new innovative products and services that help us deliver that vision – helping to improve people’s lives, boosting the economy and help protect our environment for future generations.”

Climate Change Minister, Julie James said:

“Continuing our transition to a circular economy is a critical element of decarbonisation. By keeping resources in use for as long as possible and avoiding waste, it not only benefits the environment, but will enable Wales to take advantage of economic opportunities by shortening supply chains, increasing competitiveness, and improving our resource efficiency.

“The launch of this next phase of our Circular Economy Fund for Business builds upon the successful three-year pilot and delivers on our Net Zero Wales commitment to provide £10m of funding to business to help support them move towards a circular, net zero carbon economy.

“This is a great example of how our Circular Economy strategy, Beyond Recycling and Innovation Strategy are working together to support innovation in areas such as increased resource efficiency and material substitution.”

One of the first recipients of the new SMART FIS funding is Haydale, an Ammanford-based global technology solutions company with operations in the USA and the Far East.

The support will enable Haydale to accelerate the development of its prototype graphene underfloor heating towards a market-ready CE product that can be tested in a home environment.

The programme of support will also drive the commercialisation of Haydale’s graphene-enhanced biomedical inks for sensor and diagnostic applications, accelerating the progress made so far with Cardiff University and Kidney Research UK.

David Davies, UK Managing Director at Haydale said:

“Receiving this support marks a significant milestone in funding our continued innovation and product development. I am delighted that our ongoing relationship with the Welsh Government continues to support RD&I towards delivering our innovation plan and bringing our graphene-enhanced products to market.”