More than £16m of EU funds will be invested in two North Wales projects, Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford has announced.
Around 50 businesses will benefit from specialist research and development collaborations with universities and 2,000 people who are out of work take part in training programmes to develop new skills and improve their job prospects.
Mark Drakeford said:
“This is a major investment of EU funding which will finance highly specialised-innovation in an important sector of our economy and target support to people who are finding it difficult to get into work.
“These projects are also good examples of how EU funds are being used in Wales to grow businesses, improve people’s lives and strengthen our economy.”
Almost £12m will support Bangor University’s £17m SEACAMS 2 project, which aims to expand Wales’ marine energy sector over the next four years.
Experts at Bangor and Swansea universities will provide specialist research and development programmes to help businesses exploit commercial opportunities and create new products and patents.
The project aims to create new enterprises in the sector and accelerate job creation in existing businesses.
Professor Colin Jago, director of the SEACAMS project, said:
“We will build on our five years of work with industry during the first SEACAMS funding phase. In pooling expertise at Bangor and Swansea universities, we have the scope of knowledge to provide the detailed technical information required to support these exciting developments, which could change the way we resource our energy needs in Wales.”
A further £4.8m will support Conwy Council’s OPUS project to improve the personal skills and employability of long-term unemployed and economically inactive people aged 25 and over across North Wales over the next three years.
The scheme will provide a range of skills programmes, training opportunities and placements targeted at people who are disadvantaged in the job market as the result of a range of factors, including mental health problems, disabilities and poor basic skills.
OPUS will create 1,000 work experience and volunteering opportunities and aims to help 1,000 people achieve new qualifications or work-based certificates. More than 300 people are expected to be supported directly back into work.
Cllr Sue Lloyd-Williams, Cabinet Member for Housing, Social Care and Health at Conwy Council, said:
“We’re delighted to have secured EU funding to deliver OPUS.
“This is an important project for North Wales which will provide an extra level of support and opportunity for people disadvantaged in the job market and we look forward to working with employers across the region over the coming years.”