By Daniel Hunter

The Wales Commissioner for Employment and Skills is calling on employers based in Wales and across Britain to bid for their share of a £1 million funding pot launched to boost innovation in the UK.

The ‘Skills for Innovation in Manufacturing’ competition challenges manufacturing firms and related industry bodies to come up with new ways of developing the skills and business practices needed to maximise the value of innovation to the UK economy.

Launched as part of the UK Futures Programme, the competition invites employer-led proposals from businesses of all sizes in the manufacturing sector to run initiatives lasting 12 months, which specifically focus on the skills required to manage an innovation process and exploit innovative products and services for commercial value.

As lead commissioner for the UK Futures Programme, which is run by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), UKCES Commissioner for Wales, SA Brain CEO Scott Waddington, is therefore calling on firms across the country to get involved.

The Commissioner said: “The UK has been identified as something of a front-runner in terms of innovation globally, while the economy as a whole appears to be following a continued upward trend.

“It is essential, therefore, that efforts to improve on related procedures and processes wherever possible also remain continual to ensure that, as industry leaders, we are making the best of our workforce at all times in a bid to maintain this success moving forward.”

In recent years, the UK has risen up the Global Innovation Index, moving from 14th in 2010 to second place in 2014. However, a government assessment of the UK’s science and innovation system, undertaken for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills in 2014, identified planning, recruiting, training, retention, progression and performance management of people as one of the weakest parts of the system with worrying deficiencies in basic skills, STEM skills and management.
Because the economic benefits of innovation are realised through businesses, it therefore follows that the skills, workplace practices, and management at play within them are critical to ensuring the value of innovation is maximised.

The Commissioner continued: “Achieving further improvement in all these areas means working together as business providers to better understand how innovations can be better managed, as well as those processes involved in bringing it to market.

“The Skills for Innovation in Manufacturing competition therefore presents the sector as a whole with the chance to try out and develop a range of ideas that we hope will produce a range of insights to support the future improvement business practice and public policy for the continued benefit of all.”

Proposals submitted to the Skills for Innovation in Manufacturing competition must be joint investments with employers investing in cash, in kind or both alongside a maximum government contribution of £150,000 per project.
The competition closes at midday on Wednesday 11 March 2015. For more information or to apply visit

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