SWMA Innovation Evening

South Wales Materials Association
13 May 2010






On 11th May 2010 the South Wales Materials Association (SWMA) held an evening of lectures discussing the various aspects of innovation and what this meant to both large and small businesses. Two staff development funding mechanisms were also presented.


Bin Chen presented first on applying a wide range of biometric recognition systems to businesses ranging from airport security to building site employee monitoring and asset protection. Next, Akshay Peer shared his work on the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to a major construction company to track around 15,000 individual concrete sections/year, leading to efficiency savings of around £300k/year. Both presenters gave examples where this technology could be applied both to large and small industries along with some of the companies currently showing an interest. Further information can be found at




Recognising that innovation requires skilled people as well as technology, Gareth Davies discussed Employer Study Partnerships where company employees could apply for scholarships to study for a masters degree. Further information can be found at:




Bin Chen then discussed the POWIS scheme (Prince Of Wales Innovation Scholarships). The scheme aims to place high quality graduates in Small Medium Enterprises and also Large enterprises. The student is embedded into the business and studies any aspect of the business be it technology, business or another aspect with the work being then submitted for a PhD degree. In both these schemes the focus of the project work is very much on the needs of the sponsoring company whilst still retaining enough academic content to obtain a formal qualification. Further information can be found at:




All the presentations produced a large amount of enthusiastic debate. Commenting on the event, organiser Jeremy Griffiths (SWMA Treasurer) said "Innovation has always been important to any business, but never more so than in the current economic climate. If a business has the ability to innovate, adapt and evolve it can do great things. This event has explored some innovative new technology and presented two schemes which companies can tap into in order to secure funding for their innovation schemes.

I'm pleased the event was well received and would like to thank the presenters for taking time out of their busy schedules to be here tonight. I would also like to thank all those who have assisted in organising tonight's event, particularly Sue Alston and Simon Lewis".