‘Facilitate new jobs, enhance product creation and enabling the transfer of knowledge’, are just some of the objectives announced by VISTA (Valleys Innovation Showcase for Technological Advancement), a new business support programme launched in Blaenau Gwent,
The programme is being delivered in partnership by the University of South Wales and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council.
Funded by the UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund, VISTA aims to engage at least twenty businesses in Blaenau Gwent over the next four months as part of a pilot programme that will offer a range of support options including, access to grants and consultants and leading academics in their field, as well opportunities to work with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), a network of world-leading research and innovation centres working with advanced manufacturing companies around the globe.
VISTA aims to facilitate business growth within Blaenau Gwent, connect enterprises together for shared learning, and create an Event Studio in Ebbw Vale to showcase the talent and expertise prevalent throughout the region. The pilot programme will have a particular focus on product and process enhancements in order to significantly improve productivity and reduce material consumption and CO₂ emissions in the supply chain. Support will be offered to businesses of all sizes including start-ups, by establishing interactions with regional incubators.
Importantly, VISTA also aims to involve school children and the economically inactive in its engagement, ensuring the next generation is aware of the opportunities in the region and what is possible, and the unemployed are given new hope in getting back in work with leading businesses.
Leading the VISTA project team is Prof Nigel Copner, Head of Research and Chair of Optoelectronics at the University of South Wales.
He has big ambitions for VISTA and adds:
This is a huge opportunity for businesses within Blaenau Gwent, the range of expertise available to them is very impressive and whatever guidance is required can be sourced, it really is a programme of support that can be tailored to their specific needs.
It’s a chance for organisations to maximise their potential, whether that is through unique product development, recruitment, help in accessing markets, or improving productivity. The resources and expertise available to them can help deliver their goals and in turn put Blaenau Gwent business on the map in Wales and nationally.
Business support offered by VISTA is delivered through in-person engagement as well as workshops and equates to two days a month of support. Prof Copner adds: “I would encourage any business in the region with an idea to contact us and discuss how we can help. The support they need could be made available to them within days.”