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New report finds Wales ‘punches above its weight’ in global research

02 Aug 2021 4 minutes Read
Welsh flag. By Welsh Government

Wales’ research institutions achieve results beyond their scale, according to a report published today.

The review, ‘A Performance-based Assessment of the Welsh Research Base’, was commissioned by Professor Peter Halligan, the Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales.

It was carried out by Elsevier, an international information analytics company, and looks at the research produced by Welsh universities, partnerships and other institutions between 2010 and 2018.

The report shows that over the last 20 years, Wales has boosted the volume, quality, and international reach of its research base to become one of the most efficient UK nations at converting relatively small levels of funding into highly-regarded and innovative research.

Despite Wales comprising 0.1% of the world’s researchers and securing only 0.05% of global Research and Development funding, it succeeds in producing 0.3% of the world’s research articles; 0.5% of citations and 0.5% of the most highly-cited articles.

Some of the other key findings in the report include:

• Wales’ share of the top 5% of most highly-cited publications is twice the global average;
• Wales’s citation impact is 80% above the global average and 13% above UK average;
• Despite a comparatively small research base, Wales is highly efficient in terms of output vs spending;
• Collaboration between corporations and academic institutions in Wales grew by a fifth between 2010 and 2018;
• Wales has 3.4% of all of the UK’s researchers, but they produce 4% of its output.
• More than half of Wales‘s research output was produced in international collaboration.

‘Examples’

Recent examples of ground-breaking Welsh research work include the establishment of a UK-wide network to test for Covid-19 in wastewater by Bangor University.

Backed by Welsh Government funding, the new epidemiology network helped to inform public health decisions during the pandemic; built up future pandemic preparedness and highlighted the important role played by the wastewater industry in public health.

Another example is Swansea University’s Active Building Centre Research Programme (ABC-RP), which brings together 10 leading universities across the UK to crack a number of decarbonisation challenges – including improving energy networks and thermal storage technology, and collecting useful data from more than a thousand “green” homes.

Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, said: “This is yet another example of how a sector in Wales punches above its weight category, with our research institutions, universities and partnerships producing internationally significant research.

“During the pandemic, we’ve seen just how valuable good scientific research can be – and it’s especially encouraging to note that natural science and medical and health science are our most prolific subject areas, accounting for 54% and 39% of all of Wales’ research output.

“While the efficient approach our research sector has taken and the successes they’ve achieved deserve praise, the sector continues to face challenges following our leaving the EU, with a tightening and more competitive UK funding scene.”

Minister for Economy, Vaughan Gething, who has Cabinet-level responsibility for science and research in the Welsh Government, said: “I very much welcome this report, which shows our researchers are some of the most efficient and effective, among small countries, at translating relatively low levels of research income into highly-regarded published research, which delivers significant economic, social, cultural and health benefits for people and communities in Wales.

“This up-to-date evidence ably demonstrates Wales has strong future potential for continuing to grow innovation and research collaborations, and for developing global relationships and creating new inward investment opportunities, which will help us deliver our ambition of creating new high quality jobs in the industries of the future.

“However, we need to be mindful of the uncertainly and challenges the research sector faces. While the Welsh Government invested almost £400m of EU funds in research and innovation since 2014, the UK Government’s plans for replacement funding put the sector at a considerable disadvantage in the years ahead.

“They need to change course urgently so that all sectors in Wales have fair access to this funding, which will enable our institutions to go on producing research that has a positive impact on the lives of people not only here in Wales, but across the globe.”

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Quornby
Quornby
1 month ago

Re-Tweet and Hart will be over the moon to hear this…… no?

Crwtyn Cemais
Crwtyn Cemais
1 month ago

Newyddion da a chalonogol iawn! ~ Very good and heartening news!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

I might suggest that Dave Collins of the Gwent Angling Society gets in touch with Bangor University’s water testing department over the pollution of Afon Llynfi.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

NRW has adequate testing facilities and what is needed is swift detection of pollution sources and swift and savage enforcement.
It may well be easier and more efficient to bring cases under civil rather than criminal law where the “burden of proof” is lighter.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

I should hope so, but do they have the resources and the will?

#1Chris
#1Chris
1 month ago

BRACE YOURSELVES. Angry unionists telling us we don’t in 3…2…1…

defaid
defaid
1 month ago
Reply to  #1Chris

We certainly won’t be doing so for much longer. Wales’ achievement exceeding the UK average is surely a prime target for levelling up…

CJPh
CJPh
1 month ago

da iawn chwi oll, daliwch ati!

Last edited 1 month ago by CJPh
Ieuan Evans
Ieuan Evans
1 month ago

Don’t tell the man from Wolverhampton or the man from New York. Mustn’t spoil their day.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
1 month ago

Da iawn, Cymru am byth 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago

Best attitude is to keep going, but keep quiet about success. Much work to do still.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

If this were England instead of Wales it would be on the UK news with Boris carrying on about how wonderful the English Tory state is and that this is all down to Brexit.

Conversely if Wales punched below its weight it would also get on the UK news with Boris blaming it on devolution and the Labour administration in Caedydd and Boris’s Broadcasting Conservatives would be loving every minute of it.

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