Wales has struggled to maintain research excellence
The University of Wales is offering what it says is one of the world's highest paying PhD schemes to encourage fresh thinking in Welsh companies.
Students on the Prince of Wales Innovation Scholarships programme will receive an annual stipend of £20,000 and a research grant of £5,000.
All their tuition fees will also be paid. The aim is to recruit 100 of the world's best graduates.
Wales wants to enhance the ties between universities and the private sector.
The Welsh scheme forms part of a Global Academy which is also backed by the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts and the Welsh Assembly government.
The vice-chancellor of the University of Wales, Prof Marc Clement, said the innovation scholarships had the capacity to help transform the Welsh economy.
"This is about recruiting extraordinary people to make sure Wales is at the frontier of research and industrial excellence and we anticipate that we will have the best graduates globally competing to get on the scheme."
Prof Clement appealed to firms to participate
He said it would address the shortfall in PhD research numbers in Welsh universities and colleges.
The doctoral researchers will be placed within participating businesses.
"We hope that many firms will partner with us on this project to ensure that innovation and enterprise become a by-word for the Welsh business sector and to show that a small economy can punch above its weight and compete successfully with the best in the world," Prof Clement said.
And his university had already held detailed talks with some of the world's leading research institutions on ways of collaborating on the project - he met the president of the University of California earlier this week, for instance.
Anticipated side benefits include the recruitment of more overseas undergraduates, other research students and international research academics.
The £11.4m programme will be launched officially at the Prince of Wales' London offices at Clarence House in May. It is hoped it will continue beyond 2012.
Wales' Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said it would develop the country's knowledge and science base as the world emerged from recession.