Posts Tagged ‘Edwina Hart’

second-severn-crossing-1Often as I cross the wonderful 2nd Severn Bridge and see the welcome to Wales sign, I feel a sense of pride and passion to be returning home. Indeed, I believe many people coming across the bridge for the first time will be greatly impressed by this first impression of Wales.

Sadly, for our first time visitor, the welcome can turn sour as they join a queue sometimes resulting in 10/15 minutes delay getting into Wales at the toll booth. As they journey on towards Newport, too often traffic slows to a snail’s pace as there can be a significant delay at the infamous Newport tunnels. With luck our visitors can be on their way and can get to their Welsh destination without further delay.

relief roadHaving been involved in numerous campaigns to attract investment and tourism to Wales over a number of decades, fast transport links are always high on the check list of investors considering future investment. The investment market continues to be very competitive and therefore I welcomed yesterday’s news by Edwina Hart of the Welsh Government’s decision to invest in a new M4 relief road. I am not an expert on transport issues or forecasting traffic numbers in decades ahead and cannot comment on the option chosen, but I strongly believe that improvement in our transport network is to be welcomed and must be implemented as soon as possible to secure future investment for Wales.

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Breakfast ClubIt was our last Breakfast Club of the season and we were joined by Professor Chris McGuigan, Chairman of the new Welsh Government Life Science Hub. As well as holding the role of Chairman of the Life Sciences Research Network, Chris is also a Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at Cardiff University, and the co-inventor of three new drug candidates that have entered clinical trials.

Chris was keen to express that the Hub, which is due to open on 17th July, is not a Lab but a business hub. With open-plan working space for 60 people, a board room, meeting rooms and auditorium for 75 people, the Hub is a state-of-the-art facility of which ‘there is nothing quite like it anywhere in the world’. The Hub is currently 40% full, with 40 members already signed up, and Chris believes that this number will increase to 50% occupancy by the opening in July.

Prof Chris McGuigan, Life Sciences Hub

Prof Chris McGuigan, Life Sciences Hub

Chris believes that the Hub is a unique space which can ‘connect and concentrate the Life Sciences in Wales,’ bringing together businesses and academia to stimulate the research and growth of the Life Sciences. Another significant aim of the Hub is to attract investment for the Life Sciences in Wales and ‘bring in money from over the Severn Bridge’. Therefore after looking at several other sites, Chris explained that Cardiff Bay was ultimately felt to be the best location for the Hub.

Professor McGuigan also discussed his position as Chairman of the Life Sciences Research Network. With £7.3m funding from the Welsh Government’s Ser Cymru programme, the Network will fund 100 research projects in Wales. Since its launch in September, the Life Sciences Panel has had 183 bids for project funding, dispelling any fears that there was not high demand for life sciences projects in Wales. Through working in partnership with universities across the country, the Network has currently funded 39 of those projects, of which 70% are Cardiff-based. The Network has also secured an impressive £1m in matchfunding for these projects.

Chris expressed his deep gratitude to the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, Edwina Hart for the significant role she has played in pushing forward funding and support for the Life Sciences Hub and for her ‘passion for supporting business in Wales’.With significant support such as this, Chris believes ‘there has never been a better time to do a life sciences business in Wales’ and is looking forward to seeing what progress in Life Sciences can be achieved through the Hub and the work of the Life Sciences Network over the coming year.

Dates and speakers for the autumn will be announced soon. For further information and booking details, please contact eira@petersenspr.com or phone 02920 549597.

At last we can applaud the Welsh Government for taking a real step forward to attract inward investment to Wales. As reported in today’s Western Mail, Economy Minister Edwina Hart will today officially launch a campaign involving advertising posters in London and South East England promoting Wales as a place to ‘grow and expand.’ 

Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science & Transport

Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science & Transport

As one of my bosses used to demonstrate to me the importance of selling, and not to expect business to just walk in the door, by referring to an old Chinese proverb which states: ‘old man stand on side of mountain for many years with open mouth for roast duck to fly in,’ unless Wales is taken to the world, we have no chance of attracting new companies to come to Wales. Let’s hope that the Welsh Government, together with the efforts of the newly formed Cardiff Business Council, and the SE Wales City Region will conduct a fully focused, integrated campaign and achieve the results which are so necessary for the Welsh economy to really begin to grow.

Edwina Hart, Minister for Business

Edwina Hart, Minister for Business

At last there appears to be real movement from Welsh Government to create an organisation capable of helping to create the Cardiff City Region.

I have written previously, as others have, of the necessity for closer cooperation by public and private sectors in all areas surrounding Cardiff, so that a City Region can be created with sufficient population and scale in order to compete with other regions seeking economic growth and vital inward investment.

Business Minister Edwina Hart today sets out her vision for the Region but has already announced setting up a new Board for Cardiff Capital Region with local authority, private sector and university representatives, who will advise Ms Hart on strategic planning, economic growth and transport priorities across South East Wales.

As Ms Hart states, it will take years to accomplish but it’s an absolute necessity if Cardiff and its Region is to be a real player on the world stage.

Well done Edwina Hart for taking this vital initiative.

Cardiff City Stadium

Cardiff City Stadium

As we eagerly await our Cardiff Bluebirds’ first season in the Premier Division, how very wise of Edwina Hart and her team at the Welsh Government to sponsor the club next season through advertising boards at the stadium with Visit Wales branding.

 

The worldwide audience for Premier football matches is huge, and any opportunity for Wales to be promoted is to be welcomed and applauded.

We all wish Cardiff, Swansea, Wrexham and newly promoted Newport Football Club great success in their various divisions and championships over the next season.

I finish with the sad note that one of my heroines, Marilyn Monroe, passed away on 5th August 1962.  A true icon of the cinema screen and a personality who can never be replaced.

Breakfast ClubEdwina Hart AM, Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science was the guest speaker at this morning’s fully-booked Cardiff Breakfast Club meeting.

Edwina began by discussing the city region concept, the progress of which has been followed with much interest by the Cardiff business community. While an important concept, making it a reality is difficult. Edwina expressed her gratitude towards the report produced by a group chaired by Dr Elizabeth Haywood, and stated that the Welsh Government would be ‘tentatively’ moving forward with its findings by establishing task and finish groups with close ties to local businesses. Issues surrounding transportation and concerns over the impact of a Cardiff city region on more rural areas were also discussed, with Edwina highlighting the need for effective broadband and 4G networks to support businesses outside of the city centre.

Links to local business continue with Edwina’s intentions for the area’s two enterprise zones, in Cardiff city centre and at St Athan. Rather than appointing the ‘usual suspects’, these are entirely private-sector led. Panels made up of key private sector individuals have been established and are working very successfully to lead the zones’ development.

Edwina also acknowledged Wales’ ‘integral’ creative industries, ‘small companies who often operate on a global stage’. She called the arts a ‘tremendous selling point for Wales’, using the significant interest from film makers as an example of how the creative sector is ‘taking the lead’.

Edwina stated that Wales has ‘got to fight for it’ in order to maximise its potential for business growth, competing not just with London but also internationally. While ministerial and departmental trips are often criticized, Edwina emphasised that Wales must ‘be prepared to go out there to get their business’, tellingly adding that ‘everyone else does it’. Wales must not only ensure ‘we have the right offer’, but also proactively champion that offer to external investors.

Edwina also introduced Derek Jones, the most business-friendly Permanent Secretary’ she has worked with. Derek has spent time visiting companies both to understand their experience and to learn how they consider the department, reflecting Edwina’s aspiration for the Government to have an honest and open dialogue with business in Wales. Throughout, Edwina emphasised the need to listen to the private sector to deliver her department’s priorities: prosperity, growth and jobs. She asked those assembled to ‘bring their ideas, scan the horizon and let us know where you want to be’.

A new proposal could see the development of a metro link between the city centre and Cardiff Bay.

What wonderful news by Sion Barry in today’s Western Mail. Our Business Minister Edwina Hart is considering the proposal by the board of the financial and professional services enterprise zone in Cardiff for a new City-Bay metro transport system linking together our city’s various business hubs!

We must sort out our transport system if we are going to attract inward investors and visitors to our great city. With the news of rail electrification to South Wales, and hopefully a more practical approach to the problems faced by our airport, together with the support of a City Region approach to planning and inward investment, we really do have a chance to promote our region to the world. But this will only work if we sort out our increasingly troublesome inner city transport.

All rate payers in the city, whether business or private, deserve an improved transport system. Go to Munich, Paris, Dublin or any major European city, and you see the impact of a well thought out, practical transport system, with rover tickets covering all methods of public transport.

Just imagine in a few years if you could arrive from say Australia, catch the  new rail link from Heathrow to Cardiff, get off the train and move to another platform to get on to your metro link to an office in the Bay, having bought your ticket in Heathrow – saving possibly hours off the current journey time! It’s a great image and would do so much to help those interested in promoting our city and region to the world.

It would also satisfy a lot of unhappy residents and business people already living and working here!

Good luck, Minister – let’s hope funds can be found to make this proposal a reality!

When I first read about the setting up of the City Region Task and Finish Group by Edwina Hart last year, I really

Dr Elizabeth Haywood’s Task and Finish Group have published their long-awaited report on the Cardiff City Region proposal.

got excited by the possibilities of the findings. I then read today of the Group’s report and my early excitement was fortified!

Dr Elizabeth Haywood, as Chair of the Group, and the various members are to be congratulated on producing such a well-researched and considered report. As Elizabeth says, all parties involved, including politicians, business leaders and the public, must grasp the opportunity presented to create a more prosperous region for this and future generations.

Please, please put aside political differences, vested interests and historical barriers and help drive forward the recommendations made in the report. If we do not you can forget any real long-term future for our beloved city and region.

To compete on the world stage we must pool all our resources and sell them to potential visitors, inward investors and our own citizens, to remind them of what a wonderful part of the world we live in.

How refreshing to read in Sion Barry’s piece in the Western Mail yesterday that the group considering the potential role of city regions in delivering more jobs and improving prosperity in Wales is calling for evidence.

The group, established by Business Minister Edwina Hart and chaired by Dr Elizabeth Haywood, says that it has found no evidence to support any negative impact on areas outside city regions in other parts of the world. Rather the contrary – they tend to benefit! They are now engaging in wider public consultation on the subject.

What fabulous news for those like me promoting the Cardiff City Region. I really feel that this is valuable momentum being created on this vitally important issue, and look forward to reading the group’s report at the end of May.

Well what a great week I am having.

Firstly, while recovering from another hard session in the David Lloyd gym on Monday night, who should I find queuing behind me to get a shower but one of last Saturday’s Triple Crown rugby champions, Jamie Roberts!

Momentarily struck dumb I recovered my composure to utter what a wonderful weekend it had been for Welsh sport. We chatted for a while and I was struck by how well he conducted himself talking to anyone who approached him. What a super ambassador for Welsh rugby and Welsh sport.

Secondly, I was truly delighted to read in today’s Western Mail that Business Minister Edwina Hart has launched a £6 million fund to support the growth of microbusinesses.

How refreshing to see a practical response from the Welsh Government to the report published in January by the Micro Business Task and Finish Group, chaired by Institute of Directors director Robert Lloyd Griffiths.

At last it is being recognised how much of a difference supporting our 124,000 micro enterprises can make to the Welsh economy. Lets hope that this support will lead to new sustainable jobs in this important sector.

Thirdly, a delightful surprise to find that my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter are on their way to spend part of St David’s Day with us. Join the St David’s Day parade at 12.30 outside City Hall and you may well spot me with my brothers, David and Michael.

Diwrnod Dewi Sant Hapus – Happy St David’s Day!