Growing STEMM Research Capacity in Wales
In the early 1990s, concerns were raised about the performance of Welsh research compared with that of other UK countries. Of particular concern was the low capture of Research Council (RC) funding. Research Council grant capture became a key target for the Welsh Government and HEFCW during the first decade of devolution, in the expectation that increased research collaboration, better research management and strategic research leadership would help grow Wales’s standard share of this competitive funding. Achieving this population share of RC income (5%) was also seen as an important step in stimulating economic growth.
Professor Peter Halligan (Learned Society of Wales) and Dr Louise Bright (Leadership Foundation for Higher Education) have authored a research report which provides a selective, historical overview covering the main reasons why, despite a range of initiatives over the past 20 years, this income target was never achieved. The authors argue that Welsh universities secured proportionally less research income from the high-spending science and medical research councils, in large part due to the historical shortfall of academic science and medical researchers working in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) in Wales.
The report details this story over two decades right up to the launch and implementation of Welsh Government’s Sêr Cymru initiative which has contributed £50m towards building a stronger science base in Wales capable of supporting its economic and national development.