Wales' software sector receives £13m funding boost
Wales' information technology (IT) sector is to get a £13m funding boost to keep up with software developments.
A new Software Alliance Wales (SAW) will help businesses and individuals keep up with the rapid pace of change.
The project, aimed at west Wales and the valleys, also aims to increase higher-level IT skills across all business and industry sectors.
The assembly government said that "if fully exploited" the sector could earn Wales an extra £1.4bn over seven years.
Research has highlighted the fact that, if fully exploited, the sector could generate an additional £1.4billion in the Welsh economy over the next five to seven years.
The Welsh Assembly Government funding, backed by £8m from the European Social Fund, is being launched by Deputy Minister for Science, Innovation and Skills Lesley Griffiths.
SAW, led by Swansea University, will be delivered in partnership with Glamorgan, Bangor, Aberystwyth and Wales Trinity Saint David Universities.
The assembly government said it anticipated that more than 2,400 businesses and individuals would benefit over the next four years.
Organisers say it will allow professionals to acquire new skills, enable businesses to become more efficient, and help students improve learning.
Ms Griffiths said IT and creative industries were priority sectors with the potential to make a major contribution to the knowledge economy in Wales.
"It is, therefore, vital that its workforce has the skills to succeed and that businesses are equipped with the skills to maximise opportunities presented by new technology," she said.
Swansea University's vice-chancellor, Prof Richard B Davies, said the project would provide a network for software developers across Wales.
"It is really a win-win situation for all involved and I look forward to this project being a huge success," he said.
Approximately 44,100 people work in the sector, with 19,000 employed in the IT industry and 26,000 working as IT professionals in other industries.
Neil Cornish, managing director of data management specialists, M7 Managed Services Ltd, based in Nantgarw, Rhondda Cynon Taf, described the new alliance with Wales' universities as "a welcome asset".
He said that with the support of SAW his company, which serves international export markets including USA, Belgium and Nepal, would embark on a new certification scheme and create a two-way knowledge transfer with IT students in Welsh universities.
"Software Alliance Wales is set to significantly benefit businesses within the IT sector in Wales," he said.