A new innovation strategy aimed at promoting more flexibility in business and the public sector has been unveiled by the Welsh Government.
Innovation Wales says the public sector needs to be "less prescriptive and more open to fresh solutions."
It adopts a focused approach with a single overriding principle - that while we can promote, encourage and enable innovation across the economy, our key investments should be made on the basis of clear strategic priorities, building on Wales' strengths
We need to recognise these strengths and exploit them more. This means developing distinct and genuine areas of excellence identified in Science for Wales as: Life Sciences and Health, Low Carbon Energy and Environment, Advanced Engineering and Materials, ICT and the Digital Economy.
The public sector can help create the right conditions for innovation to flourish but it is our people, our academics and our businesses that will be the agents for real change.
– Edwina Hart, Economy Minister
The strategy recommends that businesses in Wales concentrate efforts on five main themes:
promoting a culture of innovation
providing flexible support and finance for innovation
Work on the completing the ring road round Cardiff -the A4232- will start before the next Assembly election in 2016, the Economy and Transport Minister has pledged. The western half of the road was built in the 1980s and 1990s but there's been no further progress since devolution in 1999.
That's despite the road currently stopping in Cardiff Bay, less than a mile from the Senedd. Edwina Hart says she will now 'progress' the missing Eastern Bay Link. She says the project is connected to the promised deal with the UK Government on a new M4 south of Newport.
Progress in discussions with the UK Government on financing options is also opening up opportunities that we have not been able to consider up to now. I intend to progress the Eastern Bay Link in Cardiff and an upgrade to Junction 28 on the M4. These projects are an important element in improving access to the Central Cardiff Enterprise Zone. To improve access to the St Athan - Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone, I will fund improvements to Five Mile Lane.
– Economy and Transport Minister Edwina Hart AM
The Five Mile Lane improvements -between Barry and the A48- raise the prospect of another half built route for M4 traffic. The Minister also stressed that work on dualling the Heads of the Valleys Road will continue. Work will also start on several smaller road schemes during the next two years.
We have offered assistance to the maximum level allowable within state aid rules to the company. However, this offer was not taken up by the company, because of their worsening financial and competitive position.
The company’s senior management have thanked the Welsh Government for our offer of support and for the speed and flexibility with which we responded, however, they have reluctantly decided that it is in the best interests of its employees and partners to file for administration, when a buyer for the business may be identified.
We will now work with the Administrators, Grant Thornton, to explore all options for securing the future of the company and we will of course discuss packages of support with any potential buyers.
The Economy Minister says that the Welsh Government offered 'maximum allowable' financial help to the steel firm Rowecord. But Edwina Hart told the Assembly that the company decided to turn the offer down because of its 'worsening financial position.'
The minister said that Rowecord's management thanked the Welsh Government but felt that the maximum financial support was still not enough. She said officials are in contact with administrators to look at a rescue package and said that she would offer support to any potential buyers.
£4 million is being spent on helping nuclear energy workers in North West Wales back into work.
The funding aims to help 1,200 staff at the Wylfa and Trawsfynydd sites prepare for future careers.
Wylfa, on Anglesey, is due to stop generating electricity in 2014. Trawsfynydd has already closed, and is in the process of being decommissione d.
The funding comes from the European Social Fund, the Welsh Government, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and local councils. Workers will be given career advice, mentoring, training and job-search help.
Hopes for a new power station at 'Wylfa B' were set back last month when two leading power companies withdrew their plans for the site.