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152INNOVATION UK Centres of Excellence Wales: swansea university Lead comes to Wales " LEAD Wales", an £ 8 million project with the primary aim of helping develop 700 businesses in the region over a six- year period, was launched in Swansea on 1 July 2009 The programme is the 100th to be funded by the EU in the Convergence region of West Wales and the Val-leys and will be delivered through Swansea University's School of Business and Economics. Aimed at improving skills through a range of training and networking oppor-tunities, as well as motivation and confidence- building techniques, the programme will boost the management and leadership skills of SME businesses backed with £ 5 million from the European Social Fund ( ESF) through the Welsh Assembly Government. This innovative programme, already successfully delivered by Lancaster University, concentrates on two areas of small businesses: the business itself, and the personal develop-ment of the owner- manager; providing a framework to increase profitability, enable diversification and support business growth. The programme - designed to meet the specific needs of owner- managers - integrates active teach-ing with action learning, encouraging participants to share knowledge and experience with their peers and to apply what they learn to their own business situation. In sharp contrast to the other typical and traditional business support programmes, LEAD Wales is designed to meet the specific needs of owner- managers of small or medium- sized businesses or social enterprises which have traded for at least three years and which employ a number of staff. Each 10- month work programme comprises a cohort of up to 25 owner- managers, and throughout the programme, each participant is supported by a mix of expertise from academics, experienced mentors and external coaching professionals. Participants are not required to have previous formal qualifications and are supported, on an ongoing basis, by members of their cohort totalling up to six individuals. Astonishingly impressive results have already been achieved by Lancaster University Management School who have worked in conjunction with North West Regional Development Agency in piloting this pro-gramme. So far in excess of 150 businesses have already seen an increase in their sales turnover, employment, pro-ductivity and profits. LEAD will help owner- managers focus on what they can do with their businesses, and how they can evolve and stabilise those businesses with what they learn through the programme. " I had a choice to do the LEAD Programme or have a heart attack . now, I feel much happier, more focused, much more confident and I'm quite happy to tackle anything anybody throws at me." Lesley Swinn, Director, Buy the House ( Lancaster University LEAD participant) The LEAD Wales Programme will be delivered free of charge to all eligible owner- managers. Eligible partici-pants, selected on the basis of the size ( standard SME classification) and location ( within the Convergence region of West Wales and the Valleys) of the business, will be invited to complete an application form and attend an informal interview before being offered a place on the programme. Owner- managers are required to commit two days a month to attend workshops on campus over a 10- month period ( 50- 60 hours in total). A significant element of the programme is the supported implementa-tion of learning into the development of the participants' own businesses, and the first cohort, a diverse mix of up to 25 participants, will join the programme during the next academic year ( 2009/ 10). To register your interest in LEAD Wales, please contact the LEAD Wales Programme Manager, Tim McCaffrey, on telephone 01792 513707 or e- mail: T. McCaffrey@ swansea. ac. uk Left: Pictured left to right at the opening celebration on 1 July 2009, Tim McCaffrey ( Project Manager), Ieuan Wyn Jones ( Deputy First Minister), Pro-fessor Richard Dav-ies ( Vice Chancellor Swansea University), and Professor Andrew Henley ( Head of the School of Business and Economics)

INNOVATION UK153 The UK Science Park Association is dedicated to raising the standards of science park provision through an inclusive membership policy and improvement of membership services, ensuring that the brand of science park in the UK is maintained as a distinct property and business development offering, not just a real estate initiative Raising the standards What are science parks? Science Parks are also known as Research Parks, Technology Parks, Technology Centres, Technopoles, Innovation Centres, Technology- based Incubators and Bio- Incubators. It is possible to name a property development a " science park" even if there is no technology trans­­fer or support for tenants. The UK Science Park Association's ( UKSPA) role is to support the maintenance of high standards of science park provision in the UK through initiatives for members that help them to develop their know- ­ledge and understanding, grow their networks and share good practice. UKSPA aims to raise the standards of science park provision through an inclusive membership policy and improvement of membership services to ensure that the brand of science park in the UK is maintained as a dis-tinct property and business development offering, not just a real estate initiative. how did they begin? Innovation locations supporting high- tech companies such as Science Parks and Incubators offer a specialist product to high- tech companies. From a property per-spective the fact that the market is specialist has meant that property companies in the 1980s and 1990s had to make a positive choice to invest time and money to devel-oping knowledge of the sector. Those companies who, for whatever reasons, chose to invest, are key stakeholders and key players in the science park movement today. The majority of these companies are members of UKSPA. However, the story did not start with property, but rather with the process of " commercialisation", whereby a discovery made through research can, given the right business advice, be developed into a start- up company able, over time, to generate income from the commercialisation of the idea. 1986 was the year when universities were given ownership of the intellectual property generated within their institutions. As companies began to spin out of universities and the private sector, it became obvious that there was a need for physical space to support them. The public sector, in the form of Local Authori-ties, Regional Development Agencies and Devolved Administrations, initially viewed science park developments as property developments. Public-sector funds have been invested in capital build in an effort to provide the facilities required to retain or grow commercial activity within a particular region. By the turn of the century, the public sector recognised that this was not enough and so incubation policies were created that recognised the value of an incubation sup-port process. The debate over the value of a " process" strategy over a " property" strategy ensued. Would a focus on process rather than property be the answer? Analysis has shown that a focus on process alone was not sufficient. A new strategy merging the two elements of property and process has already emerged and hope-fully will be increasingly evident in RDA and Devolved Administration enterprise and innovation strategies in the coming years. Science parks continue to recognise the value of support mechanisms for their tenant companies Centres of Excellence UK Science & Innovation Parks: uK Science Parks Association