‘Innovation’ is the essential ingredient of prosperity and wellbeing for everyone in our region. But what does it look like and where is it happening in CCR? It takes many forms and it’s happening everywhere, as this first of a two-part special feature shows …
In our previous #InnovationInAction feature, we detailed how ‘Innovation’ is absolutely critical for the future of every individual, community, business and employer in the Cardiff Capital Region – a key pillar of our mission, alongside Connectivity, Sustainability and Inclusion.
And we were honest in scoping both the stark realities and inherent advantages of the unique ‘Innovation Situation’ we find ourselves in, here at CCR.
We’re a custodian of approximately half of the whole Welsh economy – an economy that historically and currently lags behind other parts of the UK by double digit percentage points in terms of productivity (and prosperity).
Yet we’re also a focus for huge innovation, created at a time when Southeast Wales finds itself at the crossroads of Opportunity and Challenge presented by climate change, the fourth industrial age, socio-economic recalibration and regional levelling-up.
We welcome that challenge and seek out those opportunities that only innovation can realise.
We relish that remit to inspire and intensify the level of ingenuity and invention that can catapult our region to become a place where everyone is connected locally and globally – able to enjoy the work, business and life opportunities that make us the place to fulfil potential.
To that end, we’re investors in innovation, collaborators in innovation, catalysts for innovation and, above all, champions of innovation.
And here’s how …
INVESTING IN INNOVATION TO INSPIRE INGENUITY
We’re proud to say that we’re investors in bringing visionary ideas to life – backing our belief in the ingenuity of our region, right across Southeast Wales.
Our investments in innovation are supporting a wide range of proposals – each showing a unique intellectual property, an extraordinary potential for market leadership or an outstanding competitive strength. It’s an ethos geared to realising our world-class ambition, as well as enabling initiatives and empowering enterprises that enhance productivity in our foundational economy – and stimulate accelerated growth in our priority sectors.
That astute and targeted approach has seen us invest with real purpose in building a delivery pipeline that will help achieve our aims of creating a connected, competitive and resilient region – with the goal of creating 25,000 new jobs, a £4bn leverage and a 5% uplift in GVA by 2036.
There are many manifestations of CCR interventions geared to making that vision a reality through inspired investment in major innovations.
Redeveloping Aberthaw as a green energy park …
Our landmark £36.4m investment in the Aberthaw Power Station has brought to life a masterplan development that post demolition will provide a platform for green energy innovations and, in the fullness of time, facilitate the creation of thousands of high-value sustainable jobs, nurturing a new eco-system for the Vale of Glamorgan and well beyond.
As Rob O’Dwyer, Head of Infrastructure for CCR, enthused when the investment was announced in March 2022: “Our purchase of Aberthaw is a real statement of intent to drive forward innovative development projects that support green and clean business growth. The potential we are about to unlock is vast – and augurs well for CCR as a pioneer in this space.”
Creating a world-first ecosystem in compound semiconductors …
When CCR invested £38.5 million in IQE as an anchor company for the whole compound semiconductor foundry based around Imperial Park in Newport, we catalysed a downstream investment that has seen the birth of a world-first ecosystem – sparking a remarkable domino effect that has seen the emergence of phenomena such as the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, a state-of-the-art innovation centre built around a 110-strong team who have initiated over £100m in R&D projects since 2018
Sustaining support for this sector has subsequently seen us support CSconnected in their successful Strength in Places Fund bid and pledge £3.3m to the total funding pot of £43.74m …. giving a clear commitment to nurturing success through innovation in our sunrise industries.
Building Medtech momentum around mould breakers like Creo Medical …
We have been innovative in creating clusters and catalysing strong supply chains in key sectors, making astute interventions such as the £2 million repayable investment to Creo Medical – a remarkable enterprise that early in the pandemic had shown how they could kill 99.99% of airborne C19. As well as bringing a sovereign resilience against COVID in Wales, Chepstow-based Creo has gone from strength-to-strength, becoming a powerhouse of our fast-growing Medtech sector and recently opening a hub in Singapore to increase their footprint in South East Asia.
As Jon Wood, CCR’s Head of Innovation and Clusters, so neatly sums up: “Our appetite for innovation and capacity to invest are two of our biggest advantages in this region – and we can see them at work every day, in each priority sector. We seem to have an innate understanding of the need to both think and do beyond what’s gone before. That ability to envision ‘a new way’ is priceless right now, given the opportunities we have and the challenges we face, for all our industries and sectors.”
Fast-forwarding Pharmatelligence and Livingstone IQ …
Our 2021 equity investment in Pharmatelligence was a commitment to the Cardiff-based trailblazer – enabling them to develop their unique Livingstone IQ analytics platform that unlocks the full power of healthcare data.
As Rhiannon Thomason, CEO Pharmatelligence, notes: “Since CCR’s investment we have doubled in size so we're now a 28-strong team of multidisciplinary experts, securing the right people at the right time, allowing us to get Livingstone IQ to market quickly and speeding up our rebrand as Human Data Sciences.”
Putting Zip World – and RCT – on the adventure destination map …
Home to the world’s fastest seated zipline, Zip World Tower nestles in the Rhigos mountain range at the old Tower Colliery coal mining site. CCR invested £4.4 million in December 2020 to help bring this major adventure destination to fruition: generating many new jobs for people with a wide variety of skills, bringing a new lease of life to an historic landmark – and putting Rhondda Cynon Taff on the global tourism map.
In our second feature next week, we’ll look at the ways in which CCR is creating the conditions for collaboration in innovation – and our vital role in amplifying and celebrating the many ideas and enterprises that are breaking boundaries across a variety of sectors …