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Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education and Welsh Language

First published:
4 August 2021
Last updated:

In an age of increasing globalisation, it is important to monitor how Wales is performing, both in the generation of new knowledge and in the strength of its capacity for undertaking research. Strong performance in these measures remain a valuable indicator of a country intellectual vitality and future innovation potential.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated to governments and the general public, the vital role that science plays in addressing life and economic threatening challenges, but also the critical role that science advice plays for informing government decisions.

I am pleased, then, to announce the publication today of A Performance-based Assessment of the Welsh Research Base 2010-2018 on the Welsh Government’s website.

This independent report, by Elsevier, was commissioned by Professor Peter Halligan, our Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales, to give an up-to-date assessment of Wales’ comparative research performance, looking back over about a decade.

There is a lot of welcome news for Wales in this report’s findings – the key details of which are highlighted on an infographic on the website with the report. Our Welsh research and innovation base has long been a crucial asset for Wales’ overall intellectual and economic productivity and international reputation. The report confirms that the quality and productivity of Wales’s SDG related research is impressive, particularly when taking into account what is produced from a small country, with relatively limited resources.

The research base continues to deliver economic, social, cultural and health benefits for Wales. It is also highly collaborative, establishing research relationships throughout the UK and across the wider world.

A critical factor in Wales’s success is the extent to which researchers collaborate extensively, across borders and sectors. Welsh research showed the highest impact for those areas where Welsh researchers worked collaboratively with others, regardless of geographies and sectors, demonstrating the productive outcome of years of international networking.

The findings reveal our researchers are some of the most efficient and effective, among small countries, at translating relatively low levels of research income into highly-regarded published research.

It also highlights how useful and effective the Welsh Government’s major Sêr Cymru programme has been, in supporting and growing excellence and research capacity in our universities, across Wales.

This up-to-date evidence ably demonstrates that Wales has strong future potential for continuing to grow innovation and research collaborations and for developing global relationships and inward investment. We need, however, to be mindful of the  uncertainly and challenges that the research sector faces, in winning research funding in a tightening and more competitive UK funding scene, where Wales lacks the scale to compete fairly with other, better funded, parts of the UK.

This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.