Welsh manufacturing firms should be at the “forefront of innovation as we leave the EU”, according to Secretary of State Alun Cairns.
Mr Cairns is set to call on Welsh manufacturing businesses to maintain their competitive edge and keep firing on all cylinders, as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.
He will deliver a keynote speech to firms at this evening’s annual EEF dinner (26 October), where he is expected to outline plans to address Wales’ low productivity rate, through the UK-wide Industrial Strategy, which calls on Welsh firms to be at the forefront of innovation and export trade, so that prosperity is shared across the country.
The Secretary of State for Wales is expected to say: “If we want to stimulate every part of our economy, then we need to create the right conditions for generating ideas and innovation – we need to foster entrepreneurship.”
“Wales has the advantage of a strong innovation base – be that compound semiconductors in Cardiff, agri-tech in Aberystwyth, or advanced manufacturing in Deeside.”
“The UK Government will invest an additional £4.7 billion by 2020-21 in research and development funding and create a new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to help the UK capitalise on its strengths in science and innovation in manufacturing.”
Wales currently benefits from its economy’s manufacturing base, which employs around 150,000 people and is made up of over 5,000 companies, 97% of which are SMEs.
But Wales is the least productive region in the UK, with productivity only 80.5% of the UK average.
Mr Cairns will add: “We know Wales has huge potential when it comes to trade and investment, as there are currently more than 3,800 businesses in Wales that export.”
“I’d like to see businesses in Wales taking advantage of the world-class support on offer from the UK Government and Welsh Government so that Wales and the wider UK is the best place in the world to do business.”
The UK Government has said it will pump another £4.7 billion in research and development funding by 2020-21 and create a new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to help the UK capitalise on its strengths in science and innovation in manufacturing.
There are currently more than 3,800 businesses in Wales that export, with a combined value of £13billion in the first quarter of 2017.
Wales is also an attractive place for inward investment, with latest figures showing that 85 foreign direct investment projects were secured in Wales, creating 2,581 new jobs and safeguarding almost 9,000 more.