Recent plans for a new science park project in Anglesey are set to increase graduate opportunities in North Wales.
The Menai Science Park was given the go ahead by the Welsh Government after last year’s budget negotiations secured the future funding of the park, with the pledge of £10m capital to be raised over two years. The future of the project has also been assured further by the appointment of Ieuan Wyn Jones as project director, who will step down from his role in the Welsh Assembly in order to take on the job.
The aim of a science park is to create a dedicated site that links current academic research to commercial and corporate development, leading to the overall economic improvement of the local area through the creation of high value jobs in the scientific field. Science Park Director Ieuan Wyn Jones has stated his hope that the park will ‘play host to industry facing and science based research projects, either located currently within Bangor University, within the SME community and within large corporates.’ Wyn Jones is hopeful that the Park will be up and running by 2016.
Leaders of the project have picked out their preferred site out of three possible locations. It is a 50 acre site, located at Gaerwen, Anglesey, and is currently owned by Anglesey County Council, meaning it would be able to take advantage of the Enterprise Zone currently established on Anglesey, which would also attract corporations to the area. The site is ten miles away from the main university building, which may be problematic for students wishing to visit the park who don’t have easy access to transport.
While the development of this site will undoubtedly be an enormous benefit to the sciences at Bangor, as Wyn Jones stated that the site will ‘offer opportunities for post graduate students to work on industry facing research projects with a sound science base’, it will also benefit the university at large. Due to the relatively small size of the city, Bangor does not have a wide range of employment opportunities for graduates. However, this project would actively promote the growth of scientific industries, as well encouraging people who are at the head of their fields to relocate to Bangor, this would create more job opportunities for graduates from the sciences. Furthermore, the presence of leading researchers in this project will raise the reputation of the university as a whole, benefitting everyone who studies there.
Local residents in Bangor and Anglesey are also supportive of the plan, as the funding going into the site will ensure an increase in jobs in the area, as well as an overall boost to the economy. Vice Chancellor of Bangor University John G. Hughes commented that the Menai Science Park was an ‘exciting initiative which has tremendous potential.’ He added: ‘Having seen and been involved with similar ventures in the past I’m delighted that North Wales will shortly have a Science Park of its own, and I’m grateful to the Welsh Government for the support they’ve given to make this happen.’
The Vice Chancellor’s previous experience with this kind of project includes the inception of a Science Park in the Republic of Ireland at the University of Maynooth, where he was president for six years. The success of the project created strong links with the intel industry and tripled the research income from €10 million in 2004 to €34 million in 2009, and an increase in post graduate student numbers of more than 50% to 1,800.