The high-tech sports and medical projects which could bring over 1,000 jobs to Swansea

Major plans for a new £132m life science, wellbeing and sports campuses project in Swansea are gathering pace.

The project is one of nine forming part of the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal investment across the Swansea Bay City Region.

Estimated to be worth more than £150m to the regional economy, Swansea Council says the two site, phased project includes:

  • The creation of a seven hundred square metre Institute of Life Science space at the Morriston Hospital site, which will include commercial and academic collaboration alongside clinical research and development
  • Planning for a new access road from the M4 to a fifty five acre site adjacent to the current hospital site
  • The creation of a two thousand square metre research and innovation space at the Sketty Lane sports park to support the development, testing and evaluation of medical, health, wellbeing and sport technologies, as well as commercial collaborations

Now that it’s been approved by Swansea Council’s Cabinet, Wales247 reports the project will be considered at the City Deal’s Joint Committee before submission to the UK Government and Welsh Government for final sign off.

Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said “The submission of this exciting project for Joint Committee approval next is yet more progress for the Swansea Bay City Deal, with seven of its nine major projects having already been approved.

“Led by Swansea University, this project will build on regional expertise in life science and clinical innovation, with the Sketty Lane plans focusing on sport and well-being, including the prevention of ill-health and rehabilitation provision.

“This will create over 1,000 well-paid jobs and further boost the economy of the city and region, while also helping attract significant additional investment.”

Sian Harrop-Griffiths, Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Director of Strategy, said “This partnership with the university will enable us to build on our existing research capability and excellence, and provide strong links to improving patient care. It will also help us to strengthen Morriston Hospital’s role as the regional specialist centre for South West Wales, and improve our ability to recruit and retain high-quality staff.”

WalesOnline reports Professor Keith Lloyd, Head of Swansea University Medical School, told a council scrutiny panel that three hundred plus companies could eventually work at the two sites and deliver between a thousand and one thousand one hundred and twenty jobs.

He said “We are hoping to do something really special with some of what we think are the unique capabilities of the region to grow a globally significant cluster of med tech and sports tech industries.”

He said the Vice Chancellor, Professor Paul Boyle, was keen to see the university become like Loughborough University in its elite and community sport offering.

Keith Lloyd said a gum shield now being manufactured in Port Talbot, which measures contact impact, was the sort of sports device academics envisage being developed.

He said four commercial partners were in place to help deliver the project; Sport Wales and three unnamed technology and pharmaceutical companies.

Developing the two sites would require just under £161m.

The expectation is that the UK and Welsh Governments would provide £15m, with the university and health boards contributing £73.4m, and the private sector £72.4m.

Keith Lloyd said the university’s two Institutes of Life Science were a model of how companies keen to develop medical devices, drugs and treatments could work with academics and clinicians.

He hoped the UK and Welsh Governments would give the final sign off in November.

Councillors on the panel asked if scholarships would be offered to local schools, whether the private sector funding was lined up, how realistic the jobs’ prediction was, and whether companies which located to the two sites would be able to subsequently move on to bigger premises.

Keith Lloyd said scholarships were “an obvious part of our ambition”, adding “We would be seeking to offer opportunities to local people.”

He said private sector funding for the first phase of the project worth £15m was secured, but not the remainder.

On the jobs, he said the figures were modelled on the Institutes of Life Science and used a Treasury methodology, but added “It’s always a prediction.”

He said retaining firms which went on to manufacture projects within the region was an aspiration.

He said you could not force companies to stay, but he added “We want to create an environment where people will want to come and stay.”

Funded by the UK Government, the Welsh Government, the public sector and the private sector, the City Deal is being led by Carmarthenshire Council, Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire Council and Swansea Council, in partnership with Swansea University, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea Bay University Health Board and Hywel Dda University Health Board.

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