Cardiff appoints head of world’s first social sciences research park

Prof Chris Taylor will head an interdisciplinary approach to physical, biological and social sciences

Cardiff University has appointed an academic director for the world’s first social science research park.

The Social Science Research Park (SPARK) is set to be completed in spring 2021 and will be housed in a purpose-built 12,000m2 building in the welsh capital.

The centre is part of the Cardiff University’s £300m multidisciplinary innovation campus which will be built on a former railway yard.

Prof Chris Taylor said his role was “to strengthen multi-disciplinary collaborations between the social, physical and biological sciences across the university”.

The Social Science Research Park will be housed inside Innovation Central, a seven-storey building (credit: Bouygeus UK)

SPARK and the Innovation Centre – a creative space for start-ups and spin-out companies – are two buildings designer to be used by “a diverse community of academics, students, business, policy makers”, Cardiff University said.

“SPARK involves the unique co-location of various private, public and third sector organisations, working in close collaboration with academics across the university, enabling us to improve the design of our research to ensure it has maximum impact and supports the research capabilities of these other organisations,” Prof Taylor said.

The UK’s first science park was founded in north Cambridge by Trinity College in 1970. Similar subsequent campuses have focused on biological, physical and computer sciences. Cardiff’s project marks the first time a university has created a knowledge exchange space for subjects like economics and politics.

Innovation Central is part of a £300m investment scheme to redevelop brownfield land in the welsh capital (credit: Hawkins Brown)

Prof Damian Walford Davies, pro-vice-chancellor for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, said SPARK was crucial to encouraging interdisciplinary approaches to research.

“As academic director, it will be within Chris’s remit to deliver on these ambitions – to support the development of research that transforms lives; establish new partnerships between the university and private, public and third sector organisations that are partners in that transformation; and ensure that SPARK connects excitingly with research, teaching and the student experience across the university,” he said.

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2nd April 2PM [GMT]​