This year, on 22 May, the 14th Annual Science and the Assembly took place in Cardiff. Organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry, it brought together representatives from key scientific industries in Wales to speak about the important links between science and industry, and how they support Welsh infrastructure. A large number of learned societies and professional bodies attended alongside Members of the National Assembly for Wales with the aim of fostering closer engagement between the sector and policymakers.
The day began with a welcome event led by Russell George, Welsh Conservative Assembly Member for Montgomeryshire. This was followed by a keynote presentation from Professor Peter Halligan, the Chief Scientific Officer for Wales and by two panel sessions.
The first panel session was comprised of a series of short talks by representatives from Innovate UK, Tata Steel Strip Products UK, Airbus and the Steels and Metals Institute at Swansea University. It was excellent to see such diversity presented in this session, which focussed on collaboration, innovation, partnership and collaboration for the economic and social benefit of Wales.
The second session took a similar panel format and was led by representatives from the Campaign for Science and Engineering, Cardiff University Research Innovation and Engagement, the National Network of Excellence for Science and Technology, and Ser Cymru supported projects. Ser Cymru comprises several schemes that are part funded by the European Commission. This aims to increase research capacity in STEM-related subjects, and the success of the scheme was evidenced by Professor Paul Meredith, of Swansea University, and his work on integrative semiconductor materials.
We then had a chance to explore the exhibitor stands, which included several Welsh Universities, Techniquest (Cardiff’s science museum) and a number of UK-wide professional bodies and learned societies. This offered an excellent opportunity to network meet some of the Assembly Members who then gave speeches to round off the event. Attendees represented a wide variety of scientific disciplines and specialisms, and it was encouraging to see the high level of engagement and discussion between delegates, Assembly Members and exhibitors.
Science and the Assembly certainly afforded the opportunity for Wales to showcase itself as a leader of innovative discovery borne from strong links between the science and industry sectors. As someone who works in research at a Welsh University, I was extremely encouraged to see the strides being made by science and industry to help to grow existing Welsh research and innovation strengths.