Our Story

Led by Cardiff University, Y Lab supported Welsh public services to innovate.

After eight years of supporting and researching innovation in Welsh public services, Cardiff University’s Y Lab closed at the end of September 2023.

The innovation landscapes across Cardiff University and within Wales have changed dramatically since Y Lab started in 2015 as a partnership with Nesta. The University now has sbarc|spark, the World’s first social sciences research park, up and running, with innovation at its core (and Nesta Cymru on the fourth floor). There are also the University’s six Innovation Institutes in: Net Zero; Digital Transformation; Neuroscience & Mental Health; Catalysis; Security, Crime & Intelligence; and Systems Immunity Research. We have new partnerships, for example with the Office of National Statistics, the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal, and with the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner. Welsh public services can now turn to the Centre for Digital Public Services, consult the new Innovation Strategy for Wales, or work with the four regional City Deals and Growth Partnerships. There is also a stronger private sector, including our friends at We Are Service Works and Perago.

We can be proud that we played our part in this changed landscape, having supported over 100 individuals and over 40 teams of Welsh public servants across our programmes, in areas from arts & health, to supporting foster carers, to accelerating decarbonisation. We advised Welsh Government through the Innovation Advisory Council for Wales, and supported colleagues to devise a new strategy for social care in Wales. We conducted and shared research on topics as diverse as gender & innovation, dementia & diversity, community legal empowerment in Lesotho, and coproduced support for NHS staff who had to shield during the COVID pandemic. We were really proud in 2022 to collectively win Cardiff University’s Celebrating Excellence Award in the Excellence in Innovation and Enterprise category.

It has been meaningful, challenging work, with amazing and inspiring colleagues, who we now consider to be among our friends. We look forward to the next chapter for us all.

For any queries about Y Lab, please contact Professor James Lewis at lewisj78@cardiff.ac.uk