Wales Innovates: New Arloesiadur Innovation Directory

Arloesiadur (Innovation Directory, in Welsh), a new web platform for mapping innovation in Wales has been unveiled today.

A joint initiative between Nesta and Welsh Government, Arloesiadur uses new data (interactive data visualisations and open datasets) to measure and visualise Wales’ industry, research and tech networks with the goal of informing policies to drive growth.

Nesta is a global innovation foundation. It backs new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time. Nesta’s innovation mapping team uses new data sources, methods and technologies to measure and map innovation to inform better policies.

Working closely with Welsh Government, firstly scoping the needs of Welsh innovation policymakers, Nesta has created Arloesiadur to provide visualisations which can be used to answer big questions about Wales’ industrial and research strengths, its collaboration networks and future economic opportunities. This is based on new analyses of business datasets from Office of National Statistics, open data published by Research Councils and Innovate UK, and web data from Meetup, an event platform.

Highlights of the data reveal:

  • Wales is rapidly gaining jobs in high paying industries: between 2011 and 2015, the number of people working in sectors like R&D, Aerospace or Telecommunications grew by 73% (from 22,200 to 38,500 jobs)
  • Wales is already competitive in several high knowledge, high value added Manufacturing industries like Aerospace or Instruments, as well as sectors related to the green economy such as Energy and Environmental Services which should gain importance in tomorrow’s sustainable economy
  • A corridor of Manufacturing activity running from the North East to Bristol Channel has added almost 7,000 jobs between 2010 and 2015 (an increase of 12.5%)
  • Wales has become more competitive in scientific and technological areas, with a particularly strong recent showing in Engineering and Technology, Medical Sciences and Mathematics and Computing, where projects led by Welsh organisations were awarded £71m in funding in 2015-16, compared with £55m in 2007-08
  • Wales is also developing new strengths in knowledge intensive and creative sectors such as R&D, creative services, computing and knowledge intensive business services – however, most of this activity seems to involve small entrepreneurial organisations rather than larger employers. In 2015, businesses in these sectors represented 6.5% of Welsh businesses (20% more than in 2010), but only 1.5% of Welsh employment.
  • Analysis of research trends suggests growing strengths in Wales in research areas related to the data revolution such as robotics and cybernetics, prosthetics, robotics and health, bioinformatics, statistics and data analysis, and security.
  • Analysis of tech communities using Meetup data supports the idea of a thriving cluster of data innovation in Wales, with 8 active groups and 1,741 participants in 264 data-related events. Interestingly, attendees from all over the UK are coming to Wales to participate in meetings about the data revolution, including topics such as big data, data science and machine learning.

Juan Mateos-Garcia, head of mapping at Nesta explained: “Economists and policymakers recognise that innovation is one of the main ways to address the big challenges of our time. In order to support this innovation, we need to understand it first.

“With Arloesiadur, we have tried to achieve this with new data sources, data science methods and visualisations and so far, our work suggests that this can generate useful information for innovation policy. Moving forward, we need to monitor how they are used by policymakers, and identify the processes, skillsets and policy instruments that have to be in place to augment their impact.”

Welsh Government Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James added: “The Arloesiadur collaboration marks an important milestone for developing innovation in Wales and is a clear demonstration of our commitment to our programme for government, Taking Wales Forward. This information can help make important evidence-based decisions and develop policies to strengthen innovation in Wales which will improve productivity and provide a boost to our economic future.”

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