A new awards scheme has been launched to shine the spotlight on those making a difference to, and championing, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) in Wales.
Entries for the inaugural Wales STEM Awards are now open, with the ceremony due to take place on 1st May 2020 at City Hall in Cardiff.
The awards have been established to celebrate those leading the sector in Wales, those businesses creating an impact on the Welsh economy, those addressing the STEM diversity gap and skills shortage, and those inspiring and raising aspirations of the next generation.
There are fifteen categories to enter: STEM Start-Up of the Year, STEM Scale-Up of the Year, STEM Educational Programme of the Year, STEM International Business of the Year, STEM Environmental Initiative of the Year, Innovation in Science Award, Innovation in Technology Award, Innovation in Engineering Award, Innovation in Mathematics Award, STEM Rising Star of the Year, STEM Woman of the Year, STEM Leader of the Year, STEM Company of the Year (0-25 employees), STEM Company of the Year (26-250- employees) and STEM Company of the Year (251+).
Despite one in five new jobs in the UK being STEM jobs by 2022, research from STEM Learning shows that 89% of STEM businesses are struggling to recruit. With Wales needing more STEM professionals, the Awards have been endorsed by Welsh Government. Lee Waters AM, Deputy Minister for Economy & Transport, said: "STEM is a key Welsh Government priority and we are committed to ensuring that all learners have an equal opportunity to reach the highest standards in science, technology and maths. I welcome the inaugural Wales STEM Awards and its celebration of the importance of STEM and Wales' STEM stars - inspiring and raising aspirations of the next generation."
Dr Louise Bright, head judge and founder of Wales Women in STEM network, said: "STEM subjects are vital to innovation and productivity in Wales. STEM helps us to accelerate economic development and tackle some of the biggest challenges facing us today, including sustainability and renewal energy. Our STEM skills gap needs to be addressed for Wales to reach its full potential and these awards are one way of shining a light on excellence in STEM in Wales. Addressing the shortage of STEM skills in Wales is key to a healthier and vibrant future."
Integrated, multi-discipline professional advisory business GS Verde Group, which comprises law firm Greenaway Scott, corporate finance boutique Verde Corporate Finance and patent attorney firm Alchemie IP, has become headline sponsor of the awards. Director Rhian Osborne said: "Our work with STEM businesses proves there is a lot to be celebrated here in Wales. The industries are moving at a fast pace and there is a great deal of talent here. If we want to put Wales on the map, we need to promote the STEM businesses, initiatives, careers and education on offer here and these awards are a great way of doing that. We're delighted to be sponsoring the inaugural Wales STEM Awards. We're looking forward to celebrating all those championing STEM in Wales."
Other sponsors include Box UK, Cardiff Metropolitan University, CPS Group, Development Bank of Wales and Rolls-Royce.
The inaugural Wales STEM Awards are being jointly organised by Grapevine Event Management and communications agency jamjar. Liz Brookes of Grapevine Event Management said: "We need to be in a better position to home-grow our STEM talent in Wales but it cannot be left to government or schools alone - businesses have a crucial role to play too. We felt that while there is some great work being done to champion STEM in Wales, there was nothing being done to shine the spotlight on this work to inspire the next generation. These Awards aim to do this, by bringing the business community together for the first time to recognise those entrepreneurial and innovative ventures that are making a difference to the STEM sector."