Welsh Crucible Profiles: ‘Spotlight on the cream of Welsh research talent’

The Welsh Crucible is a new programme of personal, professional and leadership development which brings together 30 of Wales’ most promising researchers to encourage the development of novel and sustainable multi-disciplinary ideas and collaborations.
Welsh Crucible team member Jadine Wringe introduces the scheme and outlines its objectives.

Wales today is host to a wealth of world-class research, much of which is carried out in its top universities.

This research is innovative and relevant, spanning a wide range of disciplines. This includes the Welsh Government’s priority areas of the digital economy, low-carbon economy, health and biosciences; and advanced engineering and manufacturing.

Through knowledge transfer projects and interaction with business, this research brings vital income to the economy of Wales, and its groundbreaking discoveries impact not just locally and nationally, but on a global level. Research is especially important in the current economic climate to ensure Wales is at the cutting edge of technology, and well placed for future growth.

Professor John Harries at Welsh Crucible 2011

Professor John Harries at Welsh Crucible 2011

Chief scientific adviser for Wales, Professor John Harries, said: “Our vision in Wales is of a learning country, where highly- skilled and highly-qualified people are employed in high- technology, high added-value companies.”

Research is a significant source of income for Wales, and in 2009/10, universities in Wales received almost £236m in research income. This funding allows for much of the high-impact research to take place within Welsh universities and particularly within the St David’s Day Group, which comprises of Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, Glamorgan and Swansea Universities.

These institutions are currently collaborating on Welsh Crucible, an innovative project which highlights the quality of research expertise within Wales.

The 2011 Welsh Crucible Programme, based on the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts’ highly-successful Crucible development programme, was funded by Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, with contributions from the five-partner universities. The programme brought together 30 highly-promising Welsh researchers who took part in three intensive two-day workshops. They were encouraged to make connections with researchers from other disciplines and share research ideas.

The workshops explored the ways in which the researchers could work together to tackle the current challenges facing Wales, harnessing their collective creativity and knowledge.

The 30 participants come from a diverse range of research backgrounds, ranging from biological and environmental science to the arts and humanities.

Professor Peter Halligan at the launch of Welsh Crucible 2011, with Professor Teresa Rees, Director of the Leadership Foundation (Wales), and Dr Sara Williams, Welsh Crucible Programme Manager

“Unlike more traditional courses, the success of the programme will be demonstrated by the number of innovative collaborations and partnerships which are already beginning to emerge between researchers,” said Professor Peter Halligan of Cardiff University, and Welsh Crucible’s academic lead.

The Welsh Crucible programme is another example of the increasing efforts made by Welsh universities to collaborate and draw upon the very best of research knowledge and expertise across the country.

The results of such collaboration are not only an invaluable asset to the Welsh economy, but also to society in general. The discoveries can lead to practical benefits in fields such as health-care, environmental sustainability and many others.

“In the cross-disciplinary areas of research that are producing many of the most exciting new discoveries, collaboration, both within Wales and with the best institutes outside Wales, is vital,” said Professor Harries.

More than the next 30 weeks, the 30 participants of Welsh Crucible will be presenting their own unique research experiences as part of a regular column in the Western Mail.

These pieces will showcase some of the innovative research taking place in Wales.

Their new collaborative links will give the research leaders of tomorrow the basis for a prosperous career. These networks will help shape the future research landscape of Wales.