An extra £850,000 of EU funding to help drive Wales’ engineering sector forward has been announced by Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford.
The funding will enable Swansea University’s Materials and Manufacturing Academy to offer more qualifications, including research Masters and engineering doctorates, involving industry-led research projects, which will help to boost the engineering sector.
Almost 150 students are undertaking collaborative research projects alongside companies such as BASF, Royal Mint and Weartech International – developing cutting-edge technologies in their respective industries.
The latest funding will enable a further 16 graduates to be recruited to work on pioneering research in collaboration with companies, including TATA Steel.
The Finance Secretary’s announcement of new EU funding for the academy came as he gave a statement to the National Assembly.
It also follows the decision by the UK Government to act on the First Minister’s calls for a full, lifetime guarantee for all European structural and investment funded schemes. The UK Government will ensure funding is guarantees for all schemes approved before the UK leaves the EU.
Professor Drakeford said:
“This guarantee recognises how important EU funds are to Wales in addressing economic and social disparities. It is the only correct and logical decision, allowing continuity for Welsh communities, businesses and investors while arrangements are made for the longer term.
“The EU funding I am announcing today is another positive example of how we are investing these vital resources to help develop highly-skilled leaders who can support a range of companies, ensuring they stay at the forefront of research and innovation.”
The UK Government’s extended guarantee of EU funds covers the:
• European Regional Development Fund
• European Social Fund
• European Maritime and Fisheries Fund
• European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development – CAP Pillar 2
The guarantee also covers EU funds managed by the European Commission, including the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
The Finance Secretary added:
“We have already invested £830m of structural funds – around 43% of the total allocation for the 2014-20 period, which puts us favourably ahead compared to the performance of other UK regions. We have also invested just over £48m to support businesses and organisations in accessing the EU’s highly-competitive Horizon 2020 programme.
“Our priority is to continue to make funding decisions as soon as we can to maximise our funding allocation and ensure activities get underway at the earliest opportunity.”
The Minister’s announcement increases the funding for the Materials and Manufacturing Academy to £14.8m, of which £9.5m is EU funds.
Dr David Warren, Swansea University’s Materials and Manufacturing Academy project manager said:
“This additional EU funding will allow us to further assist Welsh industry through our leading research and innovation, creating a pool of graduates who are poised to become the next industrial leaders.
“This creation of Masters and doctoral graduates will embed highly-skilled individuals in industry capable of driving forward the next generation of products and processes helping to create a sustainable high tech driven industry.
“The funds will be used to support research from a range of industries such as the resurgence of the steel industry through to the development of additive layer manufacturing.”