Last month more than 550 delegates gathered in Cardiff to discuss the latest developments in the life sciences sector.
Around 100 of these had travelled from overseas, from as far afield as Canada, India and Israel.
The two-day event, the sixth annual BioWales conference, was a record-breaker for all sorts of reasons – attendance (550 delegates, up by 150), number of meetings (1,300, up by 200) – but it was also an indication of how fast Wales’ life sciences sector has grown in recent years, and how vital it now is to the Welsh economy.
It’s a fact I’m proud to keep stating; that life sciences is one of Wales’ fastest growing and most innovative industries.
It employs over 11,000 people in more than 350 companies and is worth around £2 billion to the Welsh economy every year.
International investment funds have chosen to invest in Wales because of our world-class research, skilled workforce, good tax environment, low overheads and joined-up sectors.
The sector is even starting to attract interest from unexpected sources. Last week an event at the Hub heard that angel investors are increasingly drawn to life sciences as a “highly desirable” sector in which to invest, thanks to its ethical stance and the prospect of “significant rewards”.
Thanks to the sector’s incredible success, Wales is now at the forefront of a number of exciting and pioneering developments across various fields, from pharmaceutical to biotechnology.
At the heart of all this is the Life Sciences Hub Wales, in Cardiff Bay. The Hub is the focal point of the sector in Wales, bringing together academic, business, clinical and professional services and funding organisations to provide a commercially driven melting pot of talent.
Its partnership model provides access to significant levels of funding and other support streams to help businesses grow and prosper.
Since it opened in July 2014 the Hub has been instrumental in providing the platform to promote life sciences and its diverse capability and expertise internationally.
I am in no doubt that the life sciences sector in Wales will continue to grow in the coming years, diversifying into new and exciting cutting-edge areas of research and development. And the Hub will continue to be the nerve centre of this vibrant and prosperous sector, helping to drive and sustain that growth.