Anglesey and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

M-SParc (Menai Science Park)
© 2018 Jane Lambert: all rights reserved

Jane Lambert

On Wednesday I attended the second day of the Anglesey Business Festival at M-SParc (the Menai Science Park) near Gaerwen. I arrived just after 10:00 and stayed until 22:30. I attended talks on clean tech, the internet of things, digital accounting, the fourth industrial revolution and food technology.  The festival ended with a feast of local produce and speeches by Stephen Edwards of CREAD Cyf (Ltd), Phil Scott of the Synergy Group and Phil Chadwick of Anglesey Brewhouse.

The traditional mainstays of the economy of Anglesey and Snowdonia have been tourism and food production and there was plenty of discussion about those industries on Wednesday. Phil Scott, who runs RibRide, spoke about the adventure tourism experiences that his company, Zip World and Surf Snowdonia offer.  Those attractions supplement the mountains, beaches, castles and narrow gauge railways that have attracted visitors in the past.  Jayne Jones of Cywain talked about the food cluster that she manages and the incentives offered by the Welsh government and local authorities to food businesses in Wales. The meal served at the closing ceremony included platters of Anglesey cheeses, salmon, crab and other seafood, slices of ham and chicken and meat pies and tubs or cones of scrumptious ice cream.

There are now new business opportunities that the region is well placed to exploit.  These include additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, clean energy, the internet of things and all the other coalescing technologies that are referred to collectively as "the fourth industrial revolution."  Edward Thomas Jones, an economist at Bangor University, led a discussion specifically on the topic which complemented talks by other speakers on hydrogen vehicles and the internet of things.  

Towards the end of Dr Jones's talk we discussed the elements that make regions like Cambridge or indeed Silicon Valley soar.  Spin off businesses in cutting edge technologies or the creative industries tend to gravitate around research universities which in turn attract angel networks and venture capitalists.  Bangor University, which has leapt from 63 to 47 in the Guardian university rankings, reminds me of St Andrews where I took my first degree.   The science park is an initiative of Bangor University as is the Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre which includes a FabLab as well as a theatre and cinema.  For a moment the view of beaches and mountains across the Menai Strait on an unseasonably warm October evening even put me in mind of California where I went to graduate school.

Most of the building blocks for a new economy for this corner of North Wales based on science and the creative industries are in place.  Much will depend on whether the start-ups and other small businesses that grow up around the science park and Pontio have access to investment and specialist advice on intellectual property.   I am not sure whether there is an angel network for the Menai region but Stephen Edwards, Phil Scott and Phil Chadwick appear to have a wealth of experience to share and there may well be others like them.  According to the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys' website there are no patent attorneys within 50 miles of Gaerwen though I did meet a US patent and trade mark lawyer at Dr Jones's talk.

That is where I can help the science park and its tenants if they would like me to do so.  I can train local solicitors, accountants and business advisers on intellectual property law.  I can teach local businesses the available legal protection for their investment in branding, design, technology and creativity, patenting and licensing strategy and enforcement.   I can talk to firms in Jayne Jones's food cluster about the proposed British system of geographical indications, certification and collective marks and so forth.   Once in a while I can conduct one-to-one consultations on IP issues with local businesses like the clinics I hold in other parts of the UK.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article should call me on 020 7404 5252 during normal office hours or send me a message through my contact form.