Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport
This Written Statement provides Members with a brief update regarding the Tech Valleys programme and indicative next steps.
Since my Written Statement regarding an automotive technology park in Ebbw Vale last June, much work has been undertaken, both internally within Welsh Government and also externally with a range of local and national partners. Members will be aware that, following local stakeholder engagement, the programme was re-branded to Tech Valleys and a vision document was published in December.
The underlying proposition of Tech Valleys remains to invest in skills, in infrastructure and in the right business environment for companies to flourish as well as providing direct and indirect support to businesses wishing to locate and grow in the area. Accordingly a number of financial commitments have already been made to support Tech Valleys property and skills projects.
Today I am pleased to publish a Strategic Plan for Tech Valleys, aimed primarily at officials across Welsh Government, but also our partners and local stakeholders. This sets out the strategic aims and objectives of the programme and builds on the vision statement that was issued last year. In particular, it incorporates the ethos of the recently published Economic Action Plan, with its focus on strengthening regional economies in Wales and the importance of delivery through a partnership approach. This will also reinforce the strategic hub initiative launched by the Ministerial Taskforce for the South Wales Valleys in it delivery plan, Our Valleys Our Future, and the taskforce agenda more generally which aims to get 7,000 economically inactive and unemployed people in the Valleys into fair, secure and sustainable work.
The Strategic Plan highlights that despite being viewed as a unified £100million investment, Tech Valleys will actually comprise a range of stand-alone projects that will vary in complexity, scale and size of investment, delivered over the short medium and long term. These projects will be supported by bespoke business cases, as appropriate, each of which will be subject to rigorous evaluation.
I am pleased to advise that there is a strong pipeline of projects under development, some of which are a legacy of the Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the board for their commitment to date. In terms of next steps, governance responsibility will pass from the Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone Board later this year and transition to the Tech Valleys Strategic Advisory Group. One of the early priorities of the advisory group will be to develop a roadmap for delivery.
It is my vision that the Tech Valleys initiative will attract a flagship centre of excellence to the South Wales Valleys, akin to the AMRI in north Wales, to help transform the economy to one of innovation, research and development and long term prosperity. This Plan provides the framework to deliver this.
To conclude, I am pleased to commend this Plan to you and commit to keeping Members regularly updated on its implementation.