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Cardiff University hopes to stimulate economic growth with 'Innovation System'

Cardiff University has announced plans to invest up to £300 million in the construction of four new research centres. The plans are part of their ambitious vision to boost the Welsh economy by establishing Wales as an international leader in technological innovation.

World's first Social Science Research Park take centre stage

The Glamorgan Building, Cardiff University by ceridwen on GeographThe project, dubbed the Cardiff Innovation System, is expected to transform a disused industrial site located on Maindy Road in Cathays into a cutting-edge university campus. The plans include a Social Science Research Park (SPARK) that has been designed to help the University to become a prominent space for creativity, innovation and enterprise.

The research park is the first of its kind worldwide, and is expected to foster a collaborative working and learning environment for both postgraduate research and research leaders worldwide, whilst also strengthening the Welsh economy through an increased focus on research and development. It is also hoped that the park will provide an increased number of employment opportunities in both the private and third sectors.

SPARK isn't the only planned development, however, as the university have also announced the construction of three other economy-boosting buildings: the 'Innovation Centre', which would offer a high-quality, affordable space for start-up companies in the Welsh capital, a Translational Research Facility that has been designed around the prospect of turning academic research into practical applications, and a Research Institute for Compound Semiconductor Technology, which promises to provide 'cutting-edge' facilities devoted to demonstrating and testing new technology, from smart phones to biotechnology, in a realistic environment.

Upon completion of development, Cardiff University hopes that the research centres will promote Cardiff as a European leader in innovation as well as in each of the building's respective fields, specifically those of Social Science and translational research, though the project also seeks to improve upon several areas within Wales, including healthcare, economy and local culture.

Facilities to help Wales become an 'engine for future prosperity'

Announcing the plans at the University's first Innovation Fast Forward Festival on 2nd October, Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Riordan stated:

“Cardiff Innovation System will help us demonstrate the relevance of our work to the communities we serve, better connect industry, business, government and charities with our academics, and nurture student entrepreneurship and grassroots business development.”

The university will be working closely with both the Welsh and UK Governments, as well as discussing plans with local authorities such as Cardiff Council and the NHS in Wales, to work towards placing Cardiff and Wales at the forefront of international innovation. Business cases outlining potential investment opportunities are currently in the development stage, and will need to be put forward to the university's governing body for approval before the plans move ahead.

Traffic fears raised by local residents

While the 'Innovation System' is good news for current and prospective Cardiff University students as well as entrepreneurs across the country, the announcement hasn't been positively received by everyone. Finding Cathays to be an already overly-congested area, some local residents have voiced concerns that the project could result in an increase in traffic that the area is ill-equipped to handle, though Cardiff University has already issued a statement confirming that both the Council and the residents will be constantly informed as development on the research centres progresses.

The unveiling of these plans follows Cardiff University's recent re-entry into the top 125 universities in the world for the first time in four years, further reinforcing its reputation as a prestigious and welcoming university in every aspect.

If you're a Cardiff student interested in the potential opportunities offered by the proposed 'Innovation System', or a Cathays resident worried about the impact the plans could have on your area, get in touch on our Facebook, Twitter or Google + pages. As a student-focused lettings agency, Capital Properties has a number of properties available to rent, so if you're searching for a house or flat to call home, contact us today, or visit us at our Cathays office and let us help you.

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