At Photon02 in Cardiff the Welsh Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies announced a GBP6.3m Objective 1 European funding package for the Welsh Development Agency's GBP14.7m 7,700m2 Optronics Technology and Incubation Centre, opening in Autumn 2003, which was officially launched by UK science minister Lord Sainsbury.
The OpTIC Technium is the brainchild of the Welsh Opto-Electonics Forum and is sited within an existing cluster of opto companies in St Asaph, North Wales, and close to the University of Wales' Centre of Technological Excellence in Bangor. The WDA will provide GBP7.8m.
The OpTIC Technium will provide three specialist facilities:
- a start-up business support unit;
- an incubator centre of 24 units;
- a technology centre for rapidly innovating products and processes.
OpTIC will occupy five acres of a 14 acre site. The remaining land is for expansion of incubated companies after 2-3 years into a science park.
Optoelectronics employs 5100 people in 60 companies in Wales, with an annual turnover of GBP522m, and indirectly contributes about GBP1.5bn annually to the economy by supporting 14,370 jobs. Welsh opto companies currently export about 58% of their manufactured products and services and will contribute around GBP300m in exports this year, says WDA chairman Roger Jones.