Sport and medical tech clusters could bring over 1,000 new jobs to Swansea
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
Sport and medical technology clusters planned in Swansea could bring 1,000-plus jobs to the city, according to project leaders.
Swansea University is behind the proposal, which forms one of the City Deal projects for the Swansea Bay City Region, along with the area’s two health boards and Swansea Council.
The university wants to develop a new sport and medical tech building adjacent to the athletics track, off Sketty Lane, which could serve as a gateway to a future sports village.
The building would sit alongside the existing pavilion, subject to planning consent.
The university also wants to create a joint clinical research facility at Morriston Hospital.
Professor Keith Lloyd, head of the university’s medical school, told a council scrutiny panel that 300-plus companies could eventually work at the two sites and deliver 1,000 to 1,120 jobs.
He said: “We are hoping to do something really special with some of what we think are the unique capabilities of the region to grow a globally significant cluster of med tech and sports tech industries.”
He said the Vice Chancellor, Professor Paul Boyle, was keen to see the university become like England’s Loughborough University in its elite and community sport offering.
Prof Lloyd said a gum shield now being manufactured in Port Talbot, which measures contact impact, was the sort of sports device academics envisage being developed.
He said four commercial partners were in place to help deliver the project – Sport Wales and three un-named technology and pharmaceutical companies.
Developing the two sites would require just under £161 million.
The expectation is that the UK and Welsh Governments would provide £15 million, with the university and health boards contributing £73.4 million and the private sector £72.4 million.
Professor Lloyd said the university’s two institutes of life science were a model of how companies keen to develop medical devices, drugs and treatments could work with academics and clinicians.
He hoped the UK and Welsh Governments would give the final sign-off in November.
Councillors on the panel asked if scholarships would be offered to local schools, whether the private sector funding was lined up, how realistic the jobs’ prediction was, and whether companies which located to the two sites would be able to subsequently move on to bigger premises.
Prof Lloyd said scholarships were “an obvious part of our ambition”, adding: “We would be seeking to offer opportunities to local people.”
He said private sector funding for the first phase of the project worth £15 million was secured, but not the remainder.
On the jobs, he said the figures were modelled on the institutes of life sciences and used a Treasury methodology, but he conceded: “It’s always a prediction.”
Retaining firms which went on to manufacture projects within the region, he said, was an aspiration.
He said you could not force companies to stay, but he added: “We want to create an environment where people will want to come and stay.”