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Helping the smaller business

21 Tachwedd 2007

Evidence suggests that large international companies are engaging with UK universities very successfully. However many smaller companies do not have formal links with universities and are losing out on technology and development opportunities as a result.

An All-Wales seminar, supported by Cardiff University, has just been held to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) benefit further from the expertise and resources in our universities.

Two simultaneous seminars in North and South Wales, with a videoconference link, explored the benefits of collaboration with universities through case studies of Welsh success stories and facilitated discussion. The aim was to raise awareness of the resources in science, engineering, technology and the arts which are available to small business to boost growth and economic development.

The needs of business in North and South Wales were taken into account at each seminar with studies of businesses in both regions and across a number of industry sectors.

The key findings of the seminars will be incorporated into an independent report to enable all businesses, universities and business support in Wales to benefit from the project. The results will also feed into a UK-wide report by the Royal Academy of Engineering on the level of interaction between SMEs and academia.

The event was presented by television and radio presenter Sarah Dickins and organised by the Royal Academy in association with the Welsh Assembly Government’s Knowledge Exploitation Fund and Cardiff University Innovation Network.

Michael Wright of the University’s Research and Commercial Division said: "This may have been the first opportunity that some small/medium businesses and universities have had to explore how they can work together more effectively and in turn drive the knowledge economy.

"The event aimed to show that Welsh universities are an important source of technology and knowledge which can help increase competitiveness and enhance an innovative culture in the business world. In turn, greater collaboration with SMEs will help universities better understand the needs and requirements of business sectors to ensure the relevance of their teaching and research."

The North Wales seminar took place in St Asaph and the South Wales event at St David’s Hotel in Cardiff.