Policy Forum for Wales

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Next steps for R&D in Wales - funding, developing collaboration between Welsh HEIs, raising the international profile, and contributing to economic recovery

May 2021

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference will examine next steps for R&D and international research partnerships in Wales.

Areas for discussion include:

  • funding - including securing an equitable share for Wales of the UK government’s increased investment in R&D
  • collaboration - improving joint working between universities in Wales, including in knowledge exchange as well as bids for research projects and funding
  • place - ensuring that the benefits of Welsh R&D address regional and local priorities, as well as improving links between researchers, policymakers, businesses and research funders
  • research skills and infrastructure - developing understanding, the evidence base, and strategies for building up assets to underpin a vibrant and effective Welsh R&D system
  • COVID-19 - harnessing R&D for post-pandemic economic and social recovery in Wales
  • Welsh R&D on the world stage - how visibility in the international research landscape can be grown, and next steps for international partnerships

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the Welsh Government; Senedd Cymru; Cadw; the IPO; the FSA; BEIS; Defra; and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory; as well as parliamentary pass-holders from the Plaid Cymru Westminster Group.

The agenda

  • The R&D landscape in Wales in the wake of the pandemic
  • Driving research and innovation, and improving collaboration between Welsh universities
  • Developing a collaborative culture amongst Welsh HEIs - joining up pools of research expertise, streamlining communications, sharing resources and managing intellectual property, and lessons learned during COVID-19
  • Harnessing Welsh research in the post-pandemic economic recovery
    • Priorities for unlocking the full potential of the Welsh R&D system
    • Next steps for collaboration between industry and research
    • Levelling up and spreading the benefits of Welsh R&D locally
    • The role of business-led innovation in boosting Welsh research
    • The central role of R&D in delivering a green recovery
  • Improving the visibility of Welsh research in the international research landscape, fostering international partnerships, and harnessing the potential of international student mobility
  • The role of Welsh universities in supporting Wales’ future

Key areas for discussion:

Implementing the UK R&D Roadmap in Wales - ensuring the benefits of the Roadmap are spread equitably and help level up regions in Wales, and assessing priorities for the R&D Place Strategy:

  • place - how policymakers can improve co-ordination and co-operation with the Senedd, as well as research funders, businesses and higher education institutions, to incorporate place and regional considerations into decision-making on R&D
  • funding - what more is needed from governmental funding streams, following calls for Wales to receive a more proportionate share of UK R&D investment to reflect the size of the Welsh population
  • infrastructure and skills - developing the evidence base and improving understanding of what more is needed to ensure investment in Welsh research infrastructure, and upskilling the workforce to allow for the R&D system to work effectively

Collaboration and partnerships between Welsh universities - implementing the recommendations by Professor Graeme Reid in the Strength in Diversity report, with discussion expected on:

  • research culture - fostering collaborative research environments within and between HEIs and R&D teams, and the potential for carrying over changes in research culture during COVID-19 to post-pandemic collaboration
  • research proposals - making a case for joining up pools of expertise, as well as uniting around research projects and bidding for research funding, and the role of incentivisation of research and of competition in research settings in Wales
  • communication - improving coordination between HEIs, and developing a coherent voice for Welsh universities to effectively communicate needs to funders and policymakers
  • sharing resources - streamlining research collaboration by sharing information, infrastructure, and research data, and building on the experience of collaboration during the pandemic
  • intellectual property - ensuring clarity in IP and the management of ownership rights during collaboration

The role of Welsh R&D in the post-pandemic economic recovery:

  • collaboration between industry and research - improving communication between research bases and industry representatives, harnessing research to identify and address areas of improvement in industry projects, and boosting productivity
  • levelling up regionally - unlocking the potential for Welsh HEIs and the R&D system to spread benefits and act as civic institutions in their localities, identifying regional needs and skills gaps, and creating and promoting new jobs in R&D
  • business-led innovation - incentivising SMEs to invest in and engage with R&D, ensuring access to funding, and developing a joined-up system for sharing business expertise and best practice
  • net-zero aims - integrating wider Welsh policy aims around tackling climate change into the research and innovation system:
    • directing funding towards technologies of the future
    • ensuring the environmental implications of new research are considered
    • dovetailing with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015

Wales in the international research landscape - improving the visibility and standing of Welsh research internationally, and integrating with global research networks post-Brexit:

  • widening the offer - presenting wider and more attractive offers to international research partners by joining up pools of research expertise internally in Wales 
  • international student mobility - promoting Welsh higher education institutions and research through international student exchanges, and improving the attractiveness of research careers in Wales to overseas talent

Relevant developments:

  • Wales must have fair share of R&D funding to fulfil its potential - the Economy Minister highlighting that whilst Wales makes up 5% of the UK population, it only receives 2% of UK investment in R&D
  • the Economic resilience and reconstruction mission - recently published by the Welsh Government, putting the case forward for devolving a large proportion of the increased national R&D funding
  • Strength in Diversity - the report by Professor Graeme Reid, commissioned by University Wales, on the potential for collaboration between universities in Wales in order to more effectively compete for UK R&D funding, recommending:
    • that the Welsh R&D system initially focuses on the Shared Prosperity Fund and other resources focused on levelling up areas across the UK
    • streamlining collaboration and partnerships in Welsh research and innovation, and drawing on larger pools of expertise from across Wales when creating research teams
    • a research collaboration protocol for future for managing areas such as intellectual property and staff working at multiple institutions
  • Cardiff Capital Region’s Investment Prospectus - being submitted to the Welsh and UK Governments, proposing investment in R&D capacity
  • Digital Strategy for Wales - recently published, along with its delivery plan, with the Welsh Government emphasising collaborative use of data, digital access and literacy, and global competition
  • North Wales Growth Deal - including projects on innovation in high-value manufacturing and digital connectivity, as the Deal aiming overall to create jobs, support the economy and deliver investment
  • UK government funding packages for Welsh R&D - including £44m for regional research projects in South Wales and £3.5m towards funding pioneering research in Wales
  • UK-wide R&D policy developments, including:
    • the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) - the proposed creation of ARIA, which will have maximal autonomy, freedom and control, as well as reduced bureaucracy, and a focus on ambitious, high-risk research which may fail regularly
    • Saving and improving lives: the future of UK clinical research delivery - setting out the vision of the UK administrations, with each nation due to publish plans on how to reach the shared priorities
      • with the policy paper setting out ambitions across five key themes: a research-positive culture, participation, efficiency, the workforce and making the most of data
    • UKRI awards £171m in UK decarbonisation to nine projects - including nearly £20m from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for the South Wales Industrial Cluster decarbonisation project, focusing on hydrogen, carbon capture usage and storage, steel and cement
    • the Budget 2021 - including plans for reforming the Global Talent visa, consulting on the R&D tax relief system, and announcing support for the proposed global rail testing centre in South Wales
    • the Future Fund: Breakthrough programme - to be launched by the British Business Bank this summer, encouraging private investment in breakthrough technology companies with high R&D costs
    • The R&D roadmap - the strategy for strengthening R&D across the UK for supporting economic growth, recovery from the pandemic, and reaping societal benefits
    • Budget 2020 - including a commitment to increase investment in R&D to £22bn per year by 2024-2025
    • the upcoming R&D People and Culture Strategy:
      • seeking to improve the sustainability and attractiveness of R&D careers
      • setting up the Office for Talent for attracting global scientific and research talent into the UK
    • the upcoming R&D place strategy:
      • seeking to ensure that the potential of R&D is unlocked across all regions, localities and nations of the UK
      • an R&D Place Advisory group examining ways to increase the focus on place in public R&D investment and in decision-making processes, as well as improve local and national collaboration
    • Funding for upgrading UK science facilities - £213m worth of funding as a part of the R&D Roadmap for upgrading the UK’s scientific equipment and facilities, including state-of-the-art supercomputers being introduced in Cardiff

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the Plaid Cymru Westminster Group and officials from the Welsh Government; Senedd Cymru; Cadw; BEIS; the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory; Defra; the Food Standards Agency; and the Intellectual Property Office.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of the Senedd Cymru and Welsh Parliament and senior officials from the Welsh Government, and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as stakeholders involved with research and development in Wales including university leaders and programme coordinators, science and technical institutes, construction and engineering firms, investment groups, teachers and teacher groups, student bodies, local government, academic researchers and commentators, together with reporters from the national and trade media based in Wales and elsewhere.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Shortly after every Policy Forum for Wales seminar, a briefing document is produced. This is distributed to all delegates on the day as well as to our policymaker contacts in government, and to stakeholders more widely.

A seminar publication provides a timely record of proceedings, and acts as a guide to the latest thinking on current policy issues for those unable to be at the event.

This publication includes


Contributions from keynotes and panellists, including accompanying slides*
*Subject to approval

Delegate Pack

Information from the day, including delegate list, biographies and agenda


Transcript of questions and comments posed to speakers from attending delegates


Supplementary articles from speakers
and delegates