More than €9m of EU funding will be invested in a new two-nation project to expand the life sciences sector in Wales and Ireland.
The funding will support research and development programmes at more than 240 small and medium sized businesses in the two countries over the next four years.
The programmes will form part of the new Celtic Advanced Life Sciences Innovation Network (CALIN), which will be led by Swansea University in partnership with Irish and Welsh universities.
Businesses will benefit from research and development partnerships with experts from the participating universities and global healthcare leaders, including Unilever and GE Healthcare.
The scheme has been funded through the EU’s Ireland-Wales co-operation programme, which aims to strengthen economic links and stimulate cross-border collaboration in areas including innovation, climate change, cultural and natural resources, heritage and tourism.
The Welsh Government’s Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said:
“Life science is a key sector in Wales and Ireland and this funding will support research and development, which is vital to the creation of new products, technology and jobs.
“It is excellent news for more than 240 small and medium-sized businesses and I’m delighted that expertise in the participating universities will be shared and used across both our countries.”
Irish Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe said:
“The Ireland-Wales programme shows how EU funding can contribute to successful cross-border cooperation – in this case across our maritime border with the UK. The CALIN project is an excellent example of how it supports research and development in universities for the benefit of enterprises of all sizes, leading to new jobs and further investment in new technologies.
“This announcement shows funding under the Ireland-Wales programme is going ahead and that programme beneficiaries can plan for the future with confidence. The Irish Government strongly supports the programme and is committed to its successful implementation.”
As part of CALIN, businesses will have access to specialist technology and a network of experts and industry partners, including those involved in supply chains, markets and healthcare provision.
The network aims to support the development of new technologies, products, processes and services, leading to new jobs and further investment in the life science sectors in Ireland and Wales.
In addition to €9.3m of EU funds, the network has been co-financed by €2.6m from the participating universities.
CALIN director and Swansea University professor Shareen Doak said:
“This initiative will strengthen our combined research base and create strong commercial foundations for life sciences both regionally and globally.
“A key focus will be to support partnerships that will last beyond the term of the programme and create a legacy for the future wealth generation of network-linked SMEs.”