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Friday, 22 February, 2002, 18:47 GMT
Physics complex raises Wales's profile
The new centre will bring added investment to Aberystwyth
Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan said he is confident that Wales is taking important steps towards developing a reputation for technology research.

At the launch of a new state-of-the-art physics laboratory in Aberystwyth, Mr Morgan said there were clear signs the administration's A Winning Wales programme was working.

Aberystwyth University's physics department is fast developing a reputation for world-class teaching and research facilities.

Meanwhile, the first minister has praised four Welsh technology firms who have been shortlisted for the prestigious UK Plc Awards.

On Friday, Mr Morgan unveiled the new Material Physics laboratory at the university, which has drawn 2m of research equipment awards from the Research Councils, businesses, the European Union and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.

The university is due to unveil a 1.7m Virtual Reality Visualisation complex in 2003.

Mr Morgan praised the high-tech facilities and development of business links.

"The assembly wants to see higher education contributing to the wider economy by tailoring its learning to meet the needs of business, industry and the community.

"I am confident that this new physics lab will be a real asset, not only for Aberystwyth, but for Wales as a whole.

"Attracting more first class staff and students to work and study here will enable us to develop Wales reputation for excellence in academic research and move towards a knowledge-based economy."

Mr Morgan added that the assembly's 10-year A Winning Wales scheme was showing positive results in creating more technological innovation and forging links between industry and the education sector.

"We also want Wales to be home to new commercial successes in the field of technology," he added.

The first minister also used his visit to Aberystwyth to praise the achievement of the four high-tech firms shortlisted for the UK Plc Awards, which have been sponsored by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, London Stock Exchange and Financial Times.

Biotrace from Bridgend, IQE from Cardiff, Gyrus from Cardiff and Provalis from Deeside will compete for the Best Technology Award.

"It is a great achievement to see four Welsh companies dominating the top places in an award which is open to PLCs throughout the UK," said Mr Morgan.

"This will really put Wales on the map in the financial and commercial world.

"We still need to lay the right foundations for the future and create the right climate and skills to encourage innovation, and this is where the research base of our universities will play a key role."

The PLC Awards 2001 is sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers in association with the London Stock Exchange and the Financial Times and is designed to reward excellence in the smaller quoted company sector.

Mr Morgan was busy earlier in this week presiding over the first all-Wales Knowledge Summit, which was attended by top Welsh tech-based industrialists and academics.

The delegates were present to examine ways and means of exploiting the knowledge, research and development and innovation to develop the economy in Wales.

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