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UKRI Chief Executive visits M-SParc 

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Prof. Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UKRI, kicked off her two-day tour of Bangor University and everything it has to offer this Thursday (1-12-22), by visiting M-SParc and its tenants.

UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) believes in close collaboration with others to build a thriving, inclusive research, and innovation system. This philosophy is also very close to our hearts here at M-SParc. They offer funding and support across all academic disciplines and industrial areas from medical to astronomy, AI to AgriTech.  

Now that the UK is unable to access European Research and Development funding, UKRI funds opportunities and programmes become increasingly important to Welsh businesses, including our own tenants.  As Dame Ottoline notes in her own blog, UKRI’s job is to engage deeply with people right across this landscape to understand the challenges people are facing, and the connections between them, and then to act to support the system as best we can.  The visit today brought this to life.  Especially when Ottoline visited our tenant companies.  

What became apparent during the visit were the strengths of the region and some of its weaknesses. Clearly, we have innovative ideas, but colleagues from UKRI also commented on the sense of community that they felt at M-SParc and how close and collaborative the eco-system is here in North Wales. The challenges of securing finance both R&D and private capital in the region were also discussed. We certainly need to see more of it flowing in Wales despite the excellent in-roads made by a number of our tenant companies. Interestingly the success rate of applications into Innovate UK from Wales is far higher than those from other UK regions, we simply submit less bids and for less funding.  

Dame Ottoline and colleagues then visited innovative tenants Haia, Animated Technologies, PlantSea, Pai Language, Aerialworx, Menter Mon’s Tech Tyfu, and the University’s Thermal Hydraulics Research Centre, to get a real flavour of the innovation which takes places daily here at M-SParc. Of those tenants, Haia and Plantsea have received UKRI funding for building an online events platform and creating a seaweed alternative to plastic, respectively.  

Dame Ottoline said: “I was so impressed by the entrepreneurial community spirit at M-SParc. It was great to see so much variety under one roof, spanning high-growth sectors including low carbon technologies, VR, AR and many other digital technologies. I congratulate M-SParc and their tenants on their work.”

Pryderi ap Rhisiart summed up the visit by saying “We always value the opportunity to showcase the activities of ourselves and our tenants to new audiences. Our tenants did us proud again today, proving innovation is at the heart of north Wales. It’s at times like this that we ourselves can take a step back and see anew the fantastic work that happens here every day.” 

To join M-SParc’s ecosystem, you may want to read more about our Virtual Tenancies, or our events – open to everyone!

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Tom Burke

Digital Innovation Manager

Tom used to work at the KFC in his hometown of Colwyn Bay before it mysteriously burned down. He then spent several years “on the lam” in East Germany, where he worked as an animator in Berlin. When the wall fell, Tom came home.

He enjoys climbing and hates ice-skating.