Jeremy Miles, Counsel General for Wales and Brexit Minister, has announced that a major research and innovation project that brings together postgraduate students and businesses in Wales is set to expand with more than £9m of additional funds from Europe.

Led by Bangor University in partnership with other Welsh universities, the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS II) scheme has operated in North, West Wales and the South Wales Valleys over the past three years, and partners businesses with postgraduate research students to develop innovative research aimed at driving business growth.

The additional £9m of EU funds will see the scheme expanded to cover the whole of Wales and will support research collaboration in key sectors of the Welsh economy including life sciences, advanced engineering and materials, low carbon energy, ICT and the digital economy.

The expansion will also enable a further 260 postgraduate students to benefit from opportunities to develop as research professionals as part of Research Masters and PhD programmes funded through the scheme.

Jeremy Miles, who is responsible for EU funded projects in Wales, said, “It’s excellent news that hundreds more businesses will benefit from collaboration with our universities in research and development, and for talented young people looking to develop high-level skills and expertise in Wales.

“This investment will help align research with the needs of small businesses and drive higher level skills in Wales in the coming years. It’s another example of how Wales benefits from EU funds, and it’s vital that promises to replace this funding are honoured by the UK Government post-Brexit.”

Since launching in 2016, the KESS II scheme has already supported research and development collaborations at over 400 businesses in Wales.

Professor Graham Upton, the Interim Vice Chancellor at Bangor University, said: “In KESS we have a very highly successful collaboration that’s put Wales on the map and we’re building on the talent and knowhow in our Universities, businesses, and other organisations to take forward innovative and inspiring ideas.

“This significant investment provides us with an opportunity to further contribute to the development of Wales’ knowledge economy and future prosperity, whilst having a very real impact on the individual lives of those participating as students”.

In the last decade, EU-funded projects have created 47,000 new jobs and 13,000 new businesses across Wales, while also helping more than 85,000 people into employment.