Our Region in Action – The latest in Innovation, Sustainability, Inclusion and Connectivity

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Our Region in Action

February brought important developments impacting all four CCR strategic goals of Innovation, Sustainability, Inclusivity and Connectivity – with Copner Biotech revolutionising global biomedicine from its Ebbw Vale base, Cwmni caws Caerffili reintroducing production of Caerphilly Cheese after a three decade hiatus, Chwarae Teg’s State of the Nation report detailing the deficits in gender equality, and Wales & West Utilities giving wings to a Wales connected by low-carbon air travel …    

INNOVATION

Ebbw Vale biotech launches 3D printer to revolutionise biomedicine

A revolutionary Ebbw Vale enterprise is pushing the boundaries of biomedical research and engineering with a new 3D printer capable of driving a global step-change in biomedicine.

Copner Biotech, based at UKSE’s Ebbw Vale Innovation Centre, has launched its patented prototype Inkjet Bioprinter to an overwhelmingly positive response from the biotech industry around the world.  

The printer breaks new ground in producing the scaffolds used for growing cell cultures, offering more accuracy and realism when mimicking the structures of living tissue – with the potential to change the face of biomedicine, reducing the need for testing new drugs and treatments on animals. 

The Copner Biotech printer is being tested in laboratories and universities around the UK, China and the US – with the firm also forming partnerships with leading Welsh biotech company Jellagen, who have pioneered the use of jellyfish collagen as the raw material for culture scaffolds. 

As winner of both the GHP International Life Sciences Award for 3D Cell Culture Technology and the prestigious MediWales Start-up of the Year, Copner Biotech has used its funding from Smart Cymru and Innovate UK to huge effect – taking its place in the cutting edge MedTech sector that is growing so impressively here in the Cardiff Capital Region. 

 

SUSTAINABILITY

Toasting the return of Caerphilly Cheese

With food security and local supply chains now at the forefront of the sustainability agenda, it’s wonderful to welcome back production of one of our Region’s most iconic foodstuffs.

Caerphilly cheese production has returned to its hometown after nearly 30 years ‘away’, thanks to the vision and initiative of Cwmni caws Caerffili – the Caerphilly Cheese Company.

Caerphilly was originally produced from about 1830 by a number of farms in the area – and was particularly popular with local miners, as a cheese that did not dry out when they were underground, helping restore the miners’ salt levels lost while working.

Now, Huw Rowlands and Delan Thomas, founders of Cwmni caws Caerffili, are re-igniting the local cheese-making tradition and adding value to the milk production of local farmers, having perfected production of the flat, round-shaped cheese famed for its unique tang and texture.

As CCR’s £2.6m Sustainable Food Challenge has shown, creating local food production and supply is at the heart of a sustainable future – so it’s wonderful to see the return of a hugely popular food that offers a unique taste of our Region.    

INCLUSIVITY

State of the Nation 2023 urges acceleration of gender equality

February saw gender equality charity Chwarae Teg call for action to quicken the pace of change in making Wales a gender equal nation. 

Chwarae Teg’s State of the Nation report benchmarks the experiences of women in the economy, their representation, and their level of risk – with a Five Year Review tracking trends since 2019.

While progress has been made in some areas, we are yet to truly shift the dial – with the gender pay gap only closing slightly, to currently stand at 11.3%.

The study shows that more women are now in employment, a smaller proportion are economically inactive, and the proportion working part-time has reduced – but women remain less likely to be in work than men, more likely to be out of the labour market due to caring responsibilities; and much more likely to earn less than men. 

For women with additional protected characteristics, these outcomes are even worse – with State of the Nation revealing how gender, race, sexuality, disability, class, age and faith interact to produce often multiple experiences of disadvantage. 

With International Women’s Day focusing the minds of our Region on 8th March, it’s a sobering thought that women continue to face greater risk of poverty, social exclusion and financial hardship – underlining how important it is for gender equality to be owned by everyone who calls South East Wales home.  

CONNECTIVITY

Flying the flag for green aerospace connectivity

An aviation sector capable of connecting Wales through low emission hydrogen is a scenario being explored by Wales & West Utilities.

February saw the pioneering company commence a major study to understand the potential scale and timing requirements for any role that hydrogen could play in an aviation sector that is currently responsible for 7% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

The six month study aims to discover the barriers and challenges of using hydrogen to decarbonise the sector – scoping how Wales & West Utilities’ own infrastructure may be able to introduce 100% hydrogen and hydrogen blends into a future energy system.    

The project will build on a close collaboration with the South Wales Industrial Cluster and Hydrogen South West, with a final report aiming to develop both short and long-term strategic project direction for potential hydrogen requirements for both Cardiff and Bristol airports, as well as the wider aerospace sector.

Wales & West enjoys a growing reputation in ‘low carbon connectivity’, with the company’s network fueling buses that improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions from public transport. 

Bringing that green aeronautic connectivity to our Region would prove especially valuable to a publicly-owned airport that is a centrepiece of the Newport Freeport bid – which proposes Cardiff Airport as the core customs location for a freeport in South East Wales.  

 

 

Keep up to date on the latest developments across Innovation, Sustainability, Inclusivity and Connectivity – go to www.cardiffcapitalregion.wales

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