Top graduates from around the world will be recruited
An £11.4m scholarship scheme to attract the world's best academic brains to work with Welsh businesses has been launched.
The Prince of Wales scholarship programme will recruit 100 top graduates between 2009 and 2012.
They will work directly with businesses in research, products and services.
The University of Wales, which is running the scheme, said it would allow the university and Wales to compete on a global stage.
Vice-chancellor Prof Marc Clement said: "The Prince of Wales innovation scholarships will make a significant impact on innovation in Wales and has the capacity to help change 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."
He said he hoped many firms would partner the university on the project to "show that a small economy can punch above its weight and compete successfully with the best in the world".
The graduates will receive funding which organisers say is one of the best PhD packages in the world - £20,000 each year, plus tuition fees and a £5,000 research grant.
They will work with businesses to help create new products, processes, patents and services, and improve research and development.
The Prince of Wales, who is chancellor of the University of Wales, said it was a "new and exciting" scheme that would make a "significant impact" on innovation in Wales.
"The global academy will be bringing the best innovation talent to Wales to work alongside businesses and sectors in developing world-class technologies," he said.
Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones, who is also minister for the economy, said the scholarships would enhance Wales' "contribution to economic prosperity as the world emerges from recession".
"In this increasingly competitive global environment, science is vital for a successful 21st century economy," he said.
"We need to ensure business has ready access to the latest developments in science and technology, and these scholarships will help ensure we incorporate innovation into the goods and services we produce and export around the world."
The scheme will be run by the University of Wales global academy and is partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
It is expected that the scholarships will continue beyond 2012, subject to funding.