£13m investment boost for strategically important digital technology sector
A £13m investment designed to boost the growth and competitiveness of the strategically important digital technology sector in Wales is launched today (Tuesday October 5) by Lesley Griffiths, Deputy Minister for Science, Innovation and Skills.
Software Alliance Wales (SAW) will target support to ICT businesses and professionals working in the industry to ensure they keep abreast of the rapid pace of technological developments. It also aims to increase higher-level ICT skills across all business and industry sectors.
The project has a specific focus on the highly specialised area of software development and is backed with £8m from the European Social Fund through the Welsh Assembly Government.
Led by Swansea University, and delivered in partnership with Glamorgan, Bangor, Aberystwyth and Wales Trinity Saint David Universities, SAW will benefit businesses and individuals throughout West Wales and the Valleys.
It is anticipated that more than 2400 businesses and individuals will benefit from the initiative over the next four years.
Research has highlighted the fact that, if fully exploited, the ICT sector could generate an additional £1.4billion in the Welsh economy over the next five to seven years.
The Deputy Minister (pictured)
said the digital economy was a central element of the Assembly Government’s new Economic Renewal programme and offered businesses across Wales opportunities to innovate and grow.
"We will be launching Digital Wales later this year – a framework to create a truly digital nation – so I am particularly pleased to launch Software Alliance Wales which supports this vision.
“Software Alliance Wales will exploit new technologies, support employers and practitioners in the software sector to identify and address skills needs to drive forward the knowledge economy.
“ICT and the creative industries are priority sectors with the potential to make a major contribution to the knowledge economy in Wales.
“It is, therefore, vital that its workforce has the skills to succeed and that businesses are equipped with the skills to maximise opportunities presented by new technology.”
A key part of the project is the creation of a recognised ICT Continuous Professional Development programme for professionals to acquire new skills in the latest emerging technologies.
The project will also help businesses to gain Accredit UK certification, a quality benchmark recognised throughout the UK designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of companies.
SAW will also offer students the chance to undertake collaborative ICT based development projects within SMEs to improve their learning while providing knowledge and expertise for the businesses involved.
This builds on the principles of the successful ITWales* project, which is renowned for its student placements and support for Welsh ICT Business.
Training workshops will also be held for companies working in any sector to increase the general awareness and understanding of ICT and the opportunities it presents to improve performance.
The business ICT workshops will cover a range of topics and trends ranging from online marketing to search engine optimisation. The workshops will also provide businesses with opportunities to network and collaborate with academia and partner organisations.
Swansea University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard B Davies, said: “The ITWales team at Swansea University has a strong track record of working effectively with small and medium sized companies in Wales and helping them access the skills available within universities. This ambitious, high-impact project builds upon this experience. I know that the ITWales team is totally committed to its success.
“The project will provide a network for Software Developers across Wales. It will also give them a chance to raise their profile through an accreditation scheme as well as an opportunity to further develop their skills through the Continuing Professional Development programme.
“Computer Science students will also get the chance to showcase their skills through the Student ICT Development Projects where they will be able to put theory into practice when they link up with businesses. It is really a win-win situation for all involved and I look forward to this project being a huge success.”
*SAW is the latest project to come out of ITWales, which was launched in 1993 as the industrial liaison unit of the Department of Computer Science at Swansea University. Initially the primary functions of the programme were to create awareness and understanding of emerging technologies amongst business in Wales and improve local graduate employment opportunities.