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Major marine science boost for North Wales

A major £23.6m investment to grow Wales’ growing marine sector by increasing collaborative research projects between business and universities has been announced today (Weds 8th Sept) by Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones.

Bangor University’s SEACAMS (Sustainable Expansion of the Applied Coastal and Marine Sectors) project has been given the go-ahead following EU backing of £12.6m from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Assembly Government. Prince MadogPrince Madog

The project will turn cutting edge research ideas into new processes, services and technologies to encourage over 450 businesses to grow, create new high tech jobs and win more global contracts.

As part of the project, a new Innovation Centre will be set up at the University’s School of Ocean Sciences (SOS) at Menai Bridge, Anglesey.  The Centre will provide laboratory and computing facilities for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

SMEs will also have access to the 40 metre SOS research ship Prince Madog to focus studies on tackling the impact of climate change such as coastal erosion, flooding, water quality and offshore energy generation.

Mr Jones, who is also the Minister for the Economy and Transport said:

“Increasing commercial activity and promoting inward investment in the marine science sector will help secure high quality jobs and contribute to making Wales an international hub for this growing sector.

“Our new economic policy ‘Economic Renewal: A New Direction’ outlines our commitment to help business thrive by exploiting the knowledge within our Universities.  We are also committed to creating opportunities for graduates to build successful careers deploying their skills within their own communities and creating new ventures.”

Professor Colin Jago of the School of Ocean Sciences (SOS) at Bangor University said:

“Wales is strategically situated to exploit the rapid expansion of the offshore energy industry that is already taking place in the Irish Sea. It is imperative that we coordinate our research and business initiatives so that Wales plays a leading role in this industry and SEACAMS is an important component in that process. “

“Climate change presents challenges and opportunities for the coastal marine sector - issues such as offshore energy generation, coastal erosion and flooding, coastal water quality, ecosystem and human health, and sustainable marine resources have wide ranging implications at a local, regional and global level. It also impacts on a large proportion of the human population who are economically and culturally dependent on the coastal marine environment.”

The project is led by Bangor University in collaboration with partners at Swansea and Aberystwyth Universities who are also funding the project with further backing from the Countryside Council for Wales.

Dr Gay Mitchelson-Jacob, the project manager, said:

“Wales has unrivalled academic expertise in coastal marine science; SEACAMS will provide access to this for the benefit of research and development in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the coastal and marine sector of Wales.  It will also provide opportunities for marine science graduates to continue their careers in Wales instead of having to leave.”

Publication date: 8 September 2010

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