Jonathan Brooks-Jones reports on how a re-configured institution is seeking to market itself in innovative ways
Amid all the new and mainly fashion shops that have opened in Cardiff over the past year, one stands out for being somewhat different. In High Street in the newly pedestrianised (and named) Castle Quarter the University of Wales has opened its first outlet to promote its institutions and provide information for prospective students.
The outlet, similar to university shops opened in other university towns around Britain but a first for a town centre in Wales, also sells merchandise emblazoned with the university’s branding, such as hoodies, scarves and bookmarks.
While the main function of the shop is to provide easy access to information for those who might wish to study for a University of Wales degree, it will also work to raise the university’s profile as a provider of higher education qualifications in institutions in Wales and the rest of the world.
Since the departure during the course of the last six years of the four long standing members of the university – Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea – which now offer their own degrees, the University of Wales is the degree awarding body for Swansea Metropolitan University, University of Wales Institute Cardiff, Glyndwr University in Wrexham, University of Wales Trinity St. David in Carmarthen and Lampeter, and University of Wales, Newport. The University also validates awards for 130 institutions in 30 countries across the world.
The shop is being overseen by Awen, the new business arm of the University that has been set up to manage all its commercial activities and operates as a separate entity. Stephen Owen, Business Director for the University of Wales, who ran the international arm of a world leading American Structural Software Company for 22 years, has been appointed as Managing Director. In Welsh Awen is ‘inspiration’ and has been adapted from the university’s motto, Goreu Awen Gwirionedd (The Best Inspiration is Truth).
One way it hopes to achieve its aim of promoting the university’s commercial success is through a deal to sell merchandise made in Wales.
The shop also sells a range of books published by the University of Wales Press, including the Encyclopedia of Wales, which has more than five thousand entries covering almost every aspect of Wales, including its geography, history, places, people and culture.
The Cardiff outlet will also promote The Global Academy, the University’s programme to draw the private sector in Wales together with the university’s brightest graduates. These projects aim to boost the Welsh economy by enhancing the innovative capacity of business by and boosting their ability to develop new market-led processes, products, technologies and services.
The Global Academy comprises a number of projects, including the Prince Of Wales Innovation Scholarship scheme (POWIS). The aim of the programme is to bring the best global graduates to work within Welsh industry to help build up research capacity and enhance innovative potential. By identifying a specific research project, each participating business will recruit a qualified graduate to develop its R&D capability and cutting edge thinking. Supported by academic supervisors, the project will focus on developing research that will result in new patents, new products, processes and technologies and the creation of spin-out new firms or cost centres to pursue the commercialisation opportunities.