Cardiff Capital Region and Catalan Government forge new dynamic collaboration on high tech

Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) welcomed Catalonia’s Trade and Investment Agency to Cardiff for two days of constructive talks on commercial collaboration, especially focused on innovation and cluster expertise, which will lead to increased regional wealth and job creation.

 Three senior members of Catalonia’s Trade and Investment Agency (ACCIÓ) spent two days in the Welsh capital exploring ways of working together with CCR on cluster development, innovation and knowledge transfer, focusing particularly on the creative and compound semiconductor clusters.

Oscar Martí, Jesus Buenafuente and Oriol Vidal Bayés were welcomed by Kellie Beirne and Colan Mehaffey, CCR’s Director and Head of and Digital Innovation respectively.  In addition to a full fact-finding programme with CCR they also spent time with the Welsh Government exploring issues of mutual interest.

Collaboration picks up pace

Both teams are very keen to start collaborative talks and are discussing the areas that will be developed in several fields including skills and training, employability, talent management and a focus on laying down an entrepreneurial foundation and framework that allows specialist companies to flourish. One of the end results of this renewed collaboration is the intention to ensure that people are trained up for work readiness, especially in specific sectors and this in turn will make both CCR and the Catalan region attractive areas for inward investment.

Clusters are the key

CCR is currently focused on five main cluster groups, namely medtech, fintech,  cybersecurity, creative industries and compound semi-conductors. It was the latter two groups that were of specific interest to the team from ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment and meetings were set up to facilitate better understanding of how clusters are developed and nurtured in the Cardiff Capital Region. The Catalan region is already well-known for its cluster expertise and over the past 25 years its Cluster Programme has nurtured 25 clusters which cover over 2,300 companies with a combined annual turnover of €69bn.

Tour of CSA Catapult

The CCR team took the members of ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment for a series of meetings and a tour of CSA Catapult based in Newport’s Imperial Park where they were welcomed by CEO Martin McHugh and Dr Andy Sellars, Strategic Development Director. CSA Catapult is a critical element of the UK’s compound semiconductor industry and has already participated in over 25 projects totalling over £145m in the three years of its existence.

Renewing the agreement and knowledge transfer

Both sides have agreed that the relationship is on a good footing and that a critical element will be the potential for a ‘friendship agreement’ between CCR and ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment with defined formal areas of collaboration. Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are a possible way of effectively exchanging information and both sides agree that a flexible approach is needed, this will allow for both sides to benefit from shared intelligence.

Kellie Beirne, CCR Director said:

“CCR has an ambitious agenda to forge a prosperous future based on the building blocks of Innovation, Sustainability, Inclusion and Connectivity. We are pioneering work on priority sectors and innovation clusters that will deliver increasing value for Cardiff Capital Region and beyond; this means jobs, upskilling for our local population, inward investment and increased prosperity. We are delighted to start working with our colleagues in the Catalonian Government’s Trade & Investment team who have so much to offer us in terms of the knowledge required to take our clusters even further. Likewise, we also offer the Catalans the opportunity to work with our experts in the creative, cyber, fintech, medtech and compound semiconductor sectors. It’s definitely a relationship that adds value to both sides.”

Dr Andy Sellars, Strategic Development Director for CSA Catapult said:

“We were delighted to welcome Catalonian Government’s Trade and Investment team to the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, showing how the Catapult helps UK companies – from start-ups to multinationals – translate ideas into commercial products using compound semiconductors. We look forward to working with companies in the Catalonia photonics cluster, building relationships for future collaboration.”

Oscar Marti, ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment Director in London said:

“Catalonia and Wales share economic interests in sectors such as life sciences, advanced manufacturing, fintech and audiovisual. This visit to Cardiff served to learn more about Wales’ great strengths in these areas, as well as to define concrete opportunities for collaboration between our two regions.”