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Cardiff innovation hub opens for business


Collaborative research hub combines the Institute for Compound Semiconductors and Cardiff Catalysis Institute (CCI)

A multi-million-pound Cardiff University innovation hub where industry and scientists work together to solve commercial challenges is open for business.

Home to two leading research establishments – the Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS) and Cardiff Catalysis Institute (CCI) - the Translational Research Hub (TRH) is designed to foster collaboration.

Funded by UK and Welsh governments, TRH brings industrial partners alongside researchers to design, develop and test new cleaner, greener products and processes using the Hub’s bespoke laboratories, offices, shared collaborative spaces, bespoke ERDF-funded cleanroom and state-of-the art microscopy suite.

The 129,000-sq-ft. research hub is the largest of its kind in Wales and exemplifies UK and Wales commitments to new collaborative scientific solutions to Net Zero.

TRH has been supported by UK and Wales funders, including £17.3m through UKRPIF, £12m from Welsh Government, £13.1m in European funding administered by WEFO, and £2.7m from HEFCW.

Science & Innovation Minister George Freeman said: "South Wales is home to the world's first Compound Semiconductor cluster based on the prowess and prestige of Cardiff’s chemical science research. This Translational Research Hub will bring together business and academia to help generate new technological solutions to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges, from healthcare to energy. That’s why I’m hugely proud of the government’s investment which, from today, will help drive forward our Net Zero ambitions while boosting our efforts to establish the UK as a Science and Technology Superpower.”

Wales Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “I am delighted this innovation centre of excellence is now open for business. The significant investment we’ve made in the centre will help bring some of the most brilliant minds in Welsh academia together to find and develop made-in-Wales solutions to the major problems facing Wales and the rest of the world.

“Developing ‘next generation’ practices and technologies that will both shape our lives today and improve our experiences tomorrow will be crucial if we are to meet the climate emergency head on and build a greener, more sustainable economy.”

The TRH forms part of Cardiff University’s biggest campus upgrade for a generation - a £600m investment in the University’s future, including sbarc|spark, the Centre for Student Life and the Abacws building.

Rudolf Allemann, pro vice-chancellor, International and Student Recruitment and Head of the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, said: “TRH is a magnet for innovation. Built with industry to support cutting edge research and to strengthen the University’s interaction with industry, it will support the UK and Wales economy by building partnerships that create new products and processes. Cardiff’s leading researchers will use these fantastic bespoke facilities to work with partners across exciting sectors including energy, advanced materials, transport, communication, and healthcare creating pioneering new technologies, charting innovative research directions that lead to future funding proposals.”

Peter Smowton, director, Institute for Compound Semiconductors, said: “We are delighted to support cutting edge research and industry partners in our bespoke new ‘Home of Innovation.’ As a founder member of the CSconnected cluster in South Wales, we play a pivotal role in developing new energy efficient technology and effective techniques for the mass production of compound semiconductors. CS technologies are at the heart of green transport – electric vehicles, energy efficient communications and so-called “smart” technologies.” 

Duncan Wass, Cardiff Catalysis Institute, said: “TRH’s outstanding facilities will be vital to our work with industrial partners in fields such as the automotive, fuel and chemical manufacturing industries, helping to refine catalytic processes through conventional and innovative methods. With a range of collaborators, including BP and Johnson Matthey, TRH will help us fulfil our mission to create cleaner, greener catalysts.” 

Two new buildings sit alongside the TRH to help industry turn ideas in transformative industrial applications. A first-in-class ICS ERDF-funded cleanroom features the capability to trial, establish and scale new and innovative CS devices to an industrial standard on wafers up to 200mm in diameter. And CCI’s bespoke Electron Microscopy Facility will deliver expertise and capability in nanomaterial imaging, analysis and characterization, facilitating new approaches to catalyst design and synthesis.

TRH sits next door to Cardiff’s newly-opened sbarc|spark building, home to the Social Science Research Park (SPARK) and Cardiff Innovations@sbarc|spark – the University’s creative base for spinouts and startups.

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