Science minister salutes Wales’ role in “innovation nation”

Posted on 23 Sep 2015 by Victoria Fitzgerald

Universities and Science Minister, Jo Johnson has praised Wales’ part in what he has called an “Innovation Nation” following the completion of the five millionth Raspberry Pi at Sony Technology Centre in Bridgend.

Johnson also unveiled a total of £4.6m in funding to help fund potentially life-changing research into the future of cities and modern aircraft.

Universities and Science Minister, Jo Johnson.

During a visit to Cardiff University, he announced a £2.6m project led by Cardiff University and Airbus to help protect aircraft from lightning.

Increasing the use of new and advanced materials such as carbon fibre composites in aircraft structures means the aerospace industry needs to fully research their behaviour under extreme conditions.

The research will be undertaken in collaboration with the university’s Morgan-Botti Lightning Laboratory.

The Minister commented: “As a One Nation Government we are backing science and innovation across the UK. We want to be the best place in Europe to innovate which is why we are investing in Cardiff University’s unique project to create new ideas for developing Wales’ world-class aerospace sector.

“Today I have seen first-hand the exciting technologies being developed at Cardiff University and at Raspberry Pi in Bridgend. This is the kind of expertise we are supporting to safeguard the future success of our economy.”

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson’s visit to Wales:

  • Iconic Raspberry Pi mini-computer reaches the 5m milestone at Bridgend factory
  • £2.6m project by Airbus Group, Cardiff University and partners to research protecting aircraft from lightning strikes
  • UK cities invited to bid into £2m research fund to become healthier, more prosperous and more sustainable

Head of Airbus Group Innovations UK, Ian Risk added: “This is a key project for the aerospace industry, allowing us to enhance our fundamental understanding of what occurs during a lightning strike on a composite aircraft structure.

“This funding will be used to improve our understanding of what occurs physically and chemically when a plane is struck by lightning to continually improve the design to be more efficient and economical.”

Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University said: “Universities exist to create and share knowledge and the impact of that on UK society is huge.

“The research conducted in our Lightning Laboratory is just one example, among many, demonstrating how fundamental research supported by the Research Councils is developed into translational research of real value to the UK through partnership with industry, Government and Innovate UK.

“We are really proud of our long record of industrial collaboration across a wide range of sectors.”

The Minister also used his visit to encourage Cardiff and other UK cities to bid for a share of the £2m Urban Living Partnership, which will harness research and innovation expertise to make cities healthier, more prosperous and sustainable places to live.

Up to five individual pilot city projects, each led by a consortium of researchers, local authorities, service providers and businesses, will use their diverse experience and expertise to identify, understand and address interconnected challenges ranging from community health and crime to social inclusion and employment.

Johnson also witnessed the production of the five millionth Raspberry Pi computer at the Sony UK Technology Centre in Bridgend, as the iconic credit card-sized computer reaches its latest milestone.

The mini-computer was developed in the UK to inspire children and adults of all ages to learn about computing and since Sony UKTEC began working with the Raspberry Pi Foundation in 2012, 70 jobs have been created in the Bridgend area with an additional 30 opening by the end of the year.

The visit comes a week after the UK was ranked second in the world in the Global Innovation Index – higher than all its G7 counterparts.