The Cardiff metropolitan region and the Catalan government are forging a dynamic new high-tech collaboration

The Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) welcomed the Catalan Trade and Investment Agency to Cardiff for two days of constructive talks on trade cooperation, which focused in particular on innovation and the group’s expertise, which will lead to increased regional wealth and job creation.

Three senior members of the Agency for Trade and Investment in Catalonia (ACCIÓ) spent two days in the Welsh capital exploring ways to work alongside CCR in cluster development, innovation and knowledge transfer, with a particular focus on innovative and composite semiconductor clusters.

Oscar Marti, Jesus Buenafuente and Oriol Vidal Paes were greeted by Kelly Byrne and Colan Mehavi, CCR Director and Head of Digital Innovation respectively. In addition to a full fact-finding program with the CCR, they also spent time with the Welsh Government exploring issues of mutual interest.

Cooperation is accelerating

Both teams are very keen to start collaborative talks and discuss areas to be developed in several areas including skills and training, recruitment, talent management and focus on creating an entrepreneurial foundation and framework that will allow niche companies to thrive. One of the end results of this renewed cooperation is the intention to ensure that people are trained to be ready to work, particularly in specific sectors and this in turn will make both the CCR and the Catalan region attractive regions for inward investment.

Groups are the key

CCR currently focuses on five major clusters, namely medtech, fintech, cybersecurity, creative industries, and composite semiconductors. The last two groups were of particular interest to the ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment team and meetings were set up to facilitate a better understanding of how the groups were developed and nurtured in the Cardiff Capital region. Catalonia is already well known for its cluster expertise, and over the past 25 years its cluster program has sponsored 25 clusters covering more than 2,300 companies with combined annual revenue of €69 billion.

CSA Catapult Tour

The CCR team took ACCI-Catalonia Trade & Investment members for a series of meetings and a tour of the CSA Catapult based in Imperial Park in Newport where they were welcomed by CEO Martin McHugh and Dr. Andy Sellars, Director of Strategic Development. CSA Catapult is a critical component of the UK’s composite semiconductor industry and has already been involved in over 25 projects totaling more than £145 million in its three years of existence.

Agreement renewal and knowledge transfer

The two sides agreed that the relationship is on a good basis and that one of the critical elements will be the possibility of a “friendship agreement” between CCR and ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment with specific formal areas of cooperation. Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are a possible way to exchange information effectively and both sides agree on the need for a flexible approach, which will allow both sides to benefit from shared information.

CCR Director Kelly Byrne said:

“CCR has an ambitious agenda to build a prosperous future based on the building blocks of innovation, sustainability, inclusion and connectivity. We are pioneers in working in priority sectors and innovation clusters that will bring increased value to the Cardiff Capital region and beyond; this means creating jobs, upgrading the skills of our local residents, inward investment and increasing prosperity.” We are pleased to start working with our colleagues in the Catalan government’s Trade and Investment team who have a lot to offer us in terms of the knowledge required to take our collections even further. Likewise, we also provide Catalans with the opportunity to work with our experts in the sectors of creativity, internet, fintech, medical technology, and compound semiconductors. It’s definitely a relationship that adds value to both sides.”

Dr. Andy Sellars, Director of Strategic Development for CSA Catapult said:

“We are delighted to welcome the Catalan government’s Trade and Investment team to the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, which demonstrates how Catapult is helping UK companies – from start-ups to multinationals – translate ideas into commercial products using composite semiconductors. We look forward to working with companies in Optical Catalonia Group, building relationships for future collaborations.”

Oscar Marti, Director of Trade and Investments at ACCIÓ-Catalonia in London said:

Catalonia and Wales share economic interests in sectors such as life sciences, advanced manufacturing, financial technology and audiovisual. This visit to Cardiff helped learn more about Wales’ great strengths in these areas, as well as identify tangible opportunities for cooperation between our two regions.”

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