Sony and IQE in Welsh electronics festival

A two-week festival – the ‘Wales Festival of Innovation’ – is bidding to raise the profile of Wales as a centre for electronics technology.

Ian Menzies

Ian Menzies

Technologies on show at various companies range from micro-circuitry and robotics to healthcare sensors and systems for defence and aerospace in 40 events.

Companies taking part in the Wales Festival of Innovation include Sony, General Dynamics and semiconductor wafer producer IQE as well as nano-health researchers from Swansea University.

There will facility visits, seminars, workshops, exhibitions and networking events targeted at professionals, the general public and young people.

“Wales can already claim credit for an amazing array of enabling technologies, although that’s not always widely recognised,” said Ian Menzies, chair of ESTnet, the electronics and software technologies network for Wales, is senior director in Wales of General Dynamics.

Menzies pointed to the UK Innovation survey which showed that just over 40% of Welsh firms with over 10 employees are ‘innovation active’ which means they regularly introduce new or significantly improved products and processes or engage in innovation projects.

“If we can build energetically upon the work to date and nurture a new culture of innovation this could earn the Welsh economy billions of pounds extra and create thousands of new high-quality jobs,” he said.

Most recent figures from the UK Innovation survey show that 22.5% of Welsh company turnover was generated from new or significantly improved products and services, with 5.8% of total turnover coming from products that were totally new to the market.

Among the home-grown Welsh companies showcasing their work was Cardiff-based IQE whose semi-conductor wafers are used world-wide but who marked the festival with an event at St Asaph, designed to establish innovation partnerships with Wales-based electronics firms.

Also at St Asaph, Microvisk invited visitors to hear about its pioneering micro-viscometer, based on novel, patented Micro Electro Mechanical Sensor (MEMS) Technology. It has the potential to be utilised in many different market sectors with its first application being in the medical field.

This week both the Sony UK Technology Centre at Pencoed, Bridgend and General Dynamics’ EDGE innovation centre at Oakdale, Gwent will stage special facility visits, while ESTnet holds its Welsh Software Exhibition at Cardiff City Stadium and KTN hosts a day-long conference in Cardiff focusing on the technology behind the Bloodhound, the world’s fast car, including Wales’ contribution to the sophisticated sensor technology in the vehicle.

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