In 2011, SPECIFIC was one of six UK Innovation and Knowledge Centres (IKCs) created by the UK Government. Nine years on, and countless projects and collaborations later, SPECIFIC is celebrating another two years of EU structural funding from the Welsh Government totalling £6m. The funding will enable SPECIFIC to continue its work assisting West Wales the Valleys companies until March 2023.
Back in 2016, SPECIFIC secured £15m of EU funds to assist companies in West Wales and the Valleys who could benefit from our expertise in solar energy, materials science, low-carbon building energy systems and technologies.
With this funding and a further £5m from UKRI (EPSRC and Innovate UK), the centre has successfully bridged the gap between industry and academia by linking world-class research teams with businesses in Wales, the UK and beyond.
By proactive engagement with SPECIFIC, organisations can solve their real-world challenges by developing new innovations and products in line with SPECIFIC’s own work to develop technologies for ‘Active Buildings’ that can generate, store and release their own renewable energy.
Since 2016, SPECIFIC has assisted over 70 companies in West Wales and the Valleys in many varied ways (including, for example, assisting companies to improve their use of renewable energy, waste heat capture and energy performance monitoring of buildings) To date, the project has attracted £5.3m in private investment support to collaborating SMEs.
SPECIFIC has also been able to dramatically enhance its facilities through successfully winning other competitive UK research and development programmes. These include £2m of new specialist analytical equipment and a £500k cleanroom, pilot manufacturing facilities, and full-scale building demonstration at its Solar Heat Energy Demonstrator (SHED) as well as the prominent and award-winning Active Classroom and Active Office buildings on Swansea University’s Bay Campus. These facilities put the centre at the global leading edge, and have provided further opportunities for organisations, including companies in West Wales and the Valleys, to collaborate with the project.
Counsel General and Minister for European Transition Jeremy Miles said: “SPECIFIC have proved valuable partners in recent years, driving innovation in green energy systems and supporting businesses in their area as well as showcasing the range of benefits Wales receives through our smart, targeted allocation of funds from EU programmes. I am delighted their award-winning research can continue and their expertise shared with partners both in Wales and around the world.”
SPECIFIC’s Commercial Engagement Director Dr Christian Bryant said: ‘We are grateful for the trust the Welsh Government has put in us in awarding this £6M EU funding. It will enable us to further reach out to companies within the West Wales and Valleys region with our expanded offering from our developed research, technology and building demonstrator programmes. It will enable new partnerships and innovations to be developed by companies, thus boosting economic development and jobs in line with Wales and UK’s decarbonisation agenda.’
SPECIFIC is also a vital asset to Swansea University. It acts as a hub for academics, researchers, technology transfer and business development professionals to connect, and creates links with allied programmes in energy, materials and steel development that will benefit of the Swansea Bay region, Wales and the UK well beyond this extension.
It will also help SPECIFIC to realise its exciting long-term vision for Active Buildings, and contribute to the University, Wales, and the future UK green economy.