CABINET SECRETARY for the Economy, Ken Skates, has highlighted the achievements and issues faced by the automotive sector in Wales during his keynote speech at this year’s Autolink event.
Organised by the Welsh Automotive Forum (WAF) and supported by Welsh Government, Autolink is the premium automotive business to business event in Wales.
Ken Skates said: “These days, it seems the automotive sector is rarely out of the news headlines.
“We find ourselves talking about a host of subjects, from the unknown impact of Brexit and the associated effect on investment and car sales, to the need to improve air quality fuelling issues such as the debate over the future of the diesel engine, use restrictions in city centres and the uptake of alternatively fuelled vehicles. Not to mention being asked to consider the development of autonomous vehicles and what they mean for future car ownership and personal mobility.
“With these issues and more creating uncertainty, it is right we should come together to put the spotlight on the sector in Wales.”
Autolink 2018 will consist of around 200 attendees including 50 exhibitors drawn from the Welsh based automotive supply chain, representatives from vehicle manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers (companies supplying components directly to the chain’s original equipment manufacturer), academia and visitors from the wider supply chain community.
Ken Skates continued: “There are many topics open to discussion here – free movement of goods and people and the absence of tariff and non-tariff barriers, the Welsh Government’s Economic Action Plan, reducing carbon emissions. I could go on.
“Here in Wales, we have strengthened our commitment towards reaching our own emission reduction targets. Our Environment Act sets out a clear decarbonisation pathway for Wales within the context of our existing UK and international obligations, with a reduction in emissions of at least 80% by 2050.
“Decarbonisation has a significant place in our new Economic Contract which is part of our innovative Economic Action Plan. This will see a new way of working with businesses to create wealth, jobs and wellbeing.
“Change and a degree of uncertainty are part of the environment with in which we all operate. To prosper, we must all adapt to that new environment.”
What makes Wales special?
THIS MONTH sees Visit Wales’ first ever targeted digital campaign happening in Wales. It will encourage those with arguably the best knowledge of all, the people of Wales, to share images of the places that they love and how they enjoy them.
There is also an opportunity to be featured in Visit Wales’ ads, as a selection of the best images shared on social media will be part of the next phase of the campaign.
The Year of Discovery is the perfect time to re-discover places from childhood, or discover a new corner of Wales.
Visit Wales would like as many people as possible to get involved. What makes Wales so special? Where do you like to spend your weekends in Wales? Where’s your favourite beach, pub or dog walk? These special moments in Wales can be captured by tagging #thisismywales on your Instagram or Pinterest posts.
The in-Wales market is especially important to Wales. In 2017 there were 1.47m overnight stays by Welsh residents staying in Wales. That is 16% of all overnight trips taken in Wales by GB residents, and these trips generated £228 million for the Welsh economy.
In addition, there were 62 million tourism day visits taken in Wales by Welsh residents. This is 63% of all day trips taken in Wales. The expenditure on these trips was £2.21 billion.
Dafydd Elis Thomas, the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “This is an excellent time for the people of Wales to share what makes Wales special to them – it’s all about pride and passion and the people of Wales are often the best ambassadors and travel guides to what can be found locally.
“It’s possible that Brexit uncertainty means that more people will take a staycation this year. A targeted and flexible digital marketing campaign means that Wales is well placed to make the most of these opportunities.
“Marketing work has been gathering momentum since early March in key markets in recognition of the strong competition for the domestic market – so that Wales is front of mind as a holiday destination during our Year of Discovery.
“As part of a refreshed visitwales.com, celebrities such as Alex Jones, Matthew Rhys and Huw Stephens have already shared their favourite things about Wales.”
Brexit delay affects hauliers
THE GOVERNMENT and the EU have agreed on an extension of the UK’s membership until October 31, 2019, at the latest.
This means you can continue to operate across the EU as usual until then.
While the Government hopes to leave before then, we will only leave earlier if a deal is agreed, which would allow continued permit-free access arrangements to continue.
This means that either:
• The UK leaves the EU without a deal on October 31, 2019; or
• The UK leaves the EU with a deal, before October 31, in which case, access to the EU will remain unchanged until 2021.
So until October 31 at the earliest, you can continue to operate across the EU as you do now, without the need for an ECMT permit.
The EU has also passed a new law ensuring that, even if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October, more than 90% of journeys to the EU won’t require an ECMT permit for the remainder of 2019.
Regardless of when the UK leaves the EU, you must register any trailers you plan on using for journeys outside the UK and Ireland.
This new requirement came into force on March 28, 2019.
If you fail to register your trailer, you may be fined or subject to other enforcement action.
Enterprising Students win £10K prize
A NEW venture designed to help Colombian farmers improve crop productivity is the winner of the latest edition of Aberystwyth University’s ‘Dragon’s Den’ style student entrepreneurship competition InvEnterPrize.
Developed by an interdisciplinary team led by PhD student Liliana Castillo from Colombia, Amigrow uses satellite technology and machine learning to assist farmers with decision making.
Along with the 2019 InvEnterPrize title, Amigrow receives £10,000 to invest in the development of the concept to bring it closer to market.
Speaking of the team’s success, Liliana said: “Winning InvEnterPrize is very important to us, there are no words to describe the feeling.”
“This idea started with my experience of agriculture in Colombia. With the support of InvEnterPrize, my team and I look forward to start testing the capabilities of Amigrow. We are going to develop the first prototype and create iterations of it so that we can really know what works and what doesn’t, and produce something meaningful for the farmers so they can take the right decisions at the right time and produce better profit margins.”
Liliana added: “Colombia is a very diverse country, we have very different environments for very different kinds of crops. Initially, we are going to start with rice producers as it is very important for feeding people in Colombia and in the world.”
Amigrow was one of 15 entries for InvEnterPrize 2019, and six finalists to present their ideas to the judges on Friday 29 March 2019.
Chair of the judges, Donald Davies, Emeritus Professor in Toxicology at Imperial College London, said: “We are delighted to award InvEnterPrize 2019 to Amigrow and our warmest congratulations to Liliana and her team on their venture.”
“InvEnterPrize is an excellent competition which brings out the best in the students, and this year has proved to be the most difficult to judge with all six finalists delivering excellent presentations. It clearly inspires students here at Aberystwyth University to venture and develop ideas that go beyond what they might normally do. It is so important to sow the seed of an idea that students can develop into a business, and this competition, along with the support the teams receive throughout the year from the University’s Careers service, makes this all possible.”
InvEnterPrize organiser and Aberystwyth University entrepreneurship champion, Tony Orme, said: “The quality of the entries this year has been exceptional and the final proved to be a very close run indeed. We are immensely grateful to our panel of judges for their valuable time and expertise in this year’s search for a winner, and to the University’s alumni who make this competition possible via the Aber Fund. We now look forward to working with Liliana and colleagues on Amigrow, as the concept is developed.”
Amigrow also enjoyed further success at InvEnterPrize 2019 as it won a year’s office space at AberInnovation – the Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus, a £40.5m development at the Aberystwyth University Gogerddan Campus.
Presented by Dr Rhian Hayward, Chief Executive Officer of AberInnovation, the award was given for the best presentation in the bioscience, agri-tech, and food and drinks sectors.
Now in its 6th year, InvEnterPrize was established to further encourage a culture of entrepreneurship among the University’s students.
The £10,000 prize provided by the University’s alumni via the Aber Fund enables the winner to invest in equipment, facilities or professional services to turn the invention or business start-up idea into reality.
Entrants also had the opportunity to seek expert advice and attend a series of workshops and presentations led by successful entrepreneurs as they developed their final bids, gaining valuable advice on the way.
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