Help to Buy – Wales Shared Equity Scheme »This shared equity loan will make up the shortfall between the purchase price of a property and the funding available to buyers through their cash deposit and mortgage offer.Learn more »
Tunnels investment to improve A55 resilience
Major improvements in the resilience and safety of the A55 will be carried out over the next three years as a result of capital investment by the Welsh Government.
- Jobs Growth Wales reaches record high
- Building a world class qualifications system for Wales
- Tunnels investment to improve A55 resilience
- Local authority environmental permitting fees and charges 2014-2015
- Alternatives to Waste Transfer Notes and other aspects of Waste Regulation
- Proposals concerning the publication of official statistics
- Beyond 2011: Consultation on Census and future provision of population statistics in England and Wales
- M4 Corridor around Newport Consultation
- Undertaking fatal and non-fatal drug poisoning reviews in Wales
Featured consultation »New guidance for the Risk Assessment of Walked Routes to School
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In this section
Section highlightThe Housing (Wales) Bill
The Bill will introduce significant improvements across the housing sector to ensure that people have access to a decent, affordable home and better housing-related services.
Legislative programme 2013 - 2014 »
The First Minister detailed the 8 bills in the Welsh Government’s 5-year Legislative Programme that will be brought forward during the 3rd year of the Welsh Assembly.Learn more »
Section highlightProject pipeline update - December 2013
This Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan annex highlights planned investments and potential procurement opportunities.
Final Budget 2014-15 »
The amount of funding allocated to Welsh Government Departments for 2014-15 is £14.9bn.Learn more »
- Statistics & Research
Upcoming calendar »
See the schedule for all statistics and research releases.
Response of the Welsh Assembly Government to the Enterprise, Innovation and Networks Committees 'Review of Science Policy In Wales'
In responding to this Review, I commend the Committee for considering this important topic thoroughly and taking evidence from so many witnesses and thank the many individuals and organisations that contributed.
The Government accepts the Committee’s main recommendation on the $64,000,000 question that the time is now ripe for us to have an overarching Science Policy. That is the principal reason why we also consulted earlier this year on the basis of the document ‘A Science Policy for Wales?’ and received much detailed and useful feedback.
That and the Committee’s report are important pillars on which I expect to base our definitive Science Policy later this autumn, which will also complement existing strategic frameworks the Assembly Government has already put in place, with a strong relationship with science and technology, especially in economic development, higher education, health, and the environment.
The feedback we received requested that we extend consideration beyond the economic development focus of the consultation document. Economic Development will remain a vital facet of any science policy that will suit Wales. If that was a valid criticism of our Policy document, it would probably be a valid criticism of the Committee’s document. We are either both right or we are both wrong. We will also be addressing the commercialisation of science, education in science and technology, the supply and demand for qualified personnel in science-related fields, the public dialogue on science, as well as the use of Science within Government in areas such as health and the environment. It will set out, as the consultation did, three priority areas, where we believe there is both academic strength and private sector strength developing in Wales. That last point is absolutely fundamental as regards the Committee’s report and our consultation document. It is about identifying those win-win areas, where research will not only provider researchers’ job and grants but will help solve government and societal problems.
We agree with the committee that fostering an interest in and passion for science at an early age, and retaining that enthusiasm, once captured, will be crucial to strengthen our science base in Wales.
On Education, we are already reviewing the curriculum from age 3–16, including science. There will be national consultation in spring 2007. At GCSE, we have already introduced (from Sept 2006) several new GCSEs in Sciences to suit different aptitudes and abilities. Welsh higher education institutions’ strong links with schools include work to show the attractions of studying science, engineering technology and maths.
The areas of difference are those where we have a different definition of what constitutes a science policy. The committee advocate a designated chief scientific advisor with an associated advisory group as part of a science policy package. In our view, the formulation of a set of science priorities must come first. Is it necessary to conclude now that the Assembly Government should have a Chief Scientific Advisor? There are many sources of expert advice on science already available including the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Advisor in Health; a Chief Environmental Scientific Advisor and a Chief Social Research Officer among others. The Government has just appointed the new Ministerial Advisory Groups in enterprise and education including people with both science and commercialisation of science expertise to provide independent external advice.
The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) play a pivotal role in the delivery of science research and teaching in and for Wales, and also contributes important advice on the science base in our Universities.
We believe it is premature for the Committee to put forward organisational and staffing structures, such as a Science and Technology Council, a Science Minister and Science Department at this stage.
The science and technology agenda for Wales has to be considered within a UK science context, as science is not devolved in the main. It is sensible to maintain a close working relationship with equivalent advisors in the UK Government. What is currently under consideration is the right means to ensure co-ordination at a high level between the different facets of the advisory capacity already available – that is the need for an overarching science policy. I believe that strengthening this co-ordination may address the Committee’s concerns in this area.
The Committee’s specific proposals for funding programmes have therefore also been rejected as premature. Getting the Science Policy right should precede any issues around funding. Calls for increased funding should come after agreeing the shape of an actual policy for science, including the process of focussing down on 3 key areas.
There has been extensive debate, as described in the Committee’s report, on Wales’ current share of research council grants. We have set out ambitious targets for the capture of Research Council grants by HE in Wales. ‘Reaching Higher’ funding for collaborations seek to strengthen the Sector’s ability to win this funding.
Science Research Infrastructure Funding (SRIF) funding (non-devolved) is already being provided to the higher education sector specifically to invest in research infrastructure. Combined with HEFCW funding this amounts to over £46m for the period 2006-07 to/2007-08.
We have to identify priority areas – a small country like Wales has to focus because it cannot do everything with world class excellence. We have to search for clusters of science expertise that can develop critical mass at European or global level. It is sensible to play to our strengths, while remaining agile and flexible enough to adapt to fast-changing world markets.
We encourage and help collaboration between Welsh HEIs very significantly in science and technology – examples are the Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience; the Institute for Mathematical and Computational Science and the Aberystwyth/Bangor Research and Enterprise Partnership. The HE sector in Wales is enthusiastic about this approach. ‘Reaching Higher’ incentivizes Universities to secure a higher share of Research Council and European Framework Programme funding. We will encourage best practice to raise Wales’ share in this area.
We welcome the recommendation to facilitate collaboration between Welsh universities in the fields of science and technology. Indeed this recommendation is in effect a commendation of help already going to assist collaboration between our two public sector Research Establishments, with their next door universities, IGER with Aberystwyth, and CEHR with Bangor. It is vital that collaborations of this nature continue to be supported and as a Government we will be doing just that.
Much of the science agenda and funding is not in our gift, but the encouragement of innovation and its exploitation largely is – Funding by SMARTCymru and Regional Selective Assistance (repositioned to favour higher-added value, knowledge-based jobs) support research and innovation in the private sector, to promote long-term scientific and technological development within the key priority areas. Again, current and emerging grant regimes with more focus on innovation, technology and research-related activity addresses partly the Committee’s recommendation on targeting of financial support.
International Business Wales and others will continue seeking to bring new research-based industries, particularly multi-national companies, into Wales. The G24i, Aviza and Inspired Broadcast Solutions announcement over the past 3 weeks are excellent examples. We now facilitate overseas trade missions blending representatives from both business and academia.
This is a very exciting period of expansion for science and technology and the Committee’s work and our following Science Policy document are all part of a strategy for building on an exciting science-based future for Wales.