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'I will miss his intelligence, his wisdom, and insights, and above all his laughter' OPINION Dylan Jones-Evans.

Two weeks ago, one of my closest friends, Professor Martin Rhisiart, passed away at the tragically young age of 43.

Some of you will know Martin from his appearances commenting on the Welsh economy for both the BBC and S4C where he was always knowledgeable, erudite and had a way of simplifying even the most complex of issues.

A native of the Gwendraeth Valley in Carmarthenshire, Martin began his career working for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London where he conducted studies on transition economies in Central and Eastern Europe.

This was followed by nine years at the Observatory of Innovation at Cardiff Business School as a researcher on a range of projects covering the automotive sector, new product development and innovation management.

He then left Cardiff to establish the Centre for Research in Futures and Innovation at the University of Glamorgan, developing an expertise in innovation studies and strategic foresight (i.e. the anticipation of future changes affecting the world). Following the creation of the University of South Wales from the merger between the universities of Glamorgan and Newport, Martin was appointed as a Professor of Strategy and Innovation and he delivered a range of research projects funded by various national and international bodies including the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the European Union, Forfas (the national innovation agency for Ireland) and the Welsh Government.

Possibly his greatest contribution was as one of the leaders for the UK Skills and Employment 2030 research project. This examined the key factors that would be shaping the skills and employment landscape the year 2030 and the options and implications for key stakeholders in the skills and employment agenda It was a ground-breaking piece of research for the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and given that skills and education remains at the forefront of economic policythinking, this will continue to provide food for thought for individuals and organisations for years to come.

Martin just to his But Martin wasn't only an academic and he also made significant contributions to policy and practice within Wales. He was an active member of the Welsh Government's Innovation Advisory Council for Wales and the City Regions Task and Finish Group as well as being a nonexecutive director of Menter a Busnes, the enterprise development company. When I joined the University of South Wales three months ago, I was excited by the prospects of working closely with Martin in developing new areas of mutual interest.

We had recently co-authored a paper "The Impact of Foresight on Entrepreneurship: the Wales 2010 Case Study" for the international journal "Technological Forecasting and Social Change".

was starting realise potential This was the first examination of the development of entrepreneurship policy in Wales over the last 25 years and how this had impacted on the Welsh economy. Since being published, it had been well received amongst both entrepreneurship and futures scholars and we were already planning a follow-up article to examine how innovation policy in Wales had changed over the same period. And only this week, I received an email stating that another paper - this time developing a new approach to examining open innovation within small to medium-sized enterprises - had been accepted as a chapter in a book that will be published later this year.

Therefore, Martin was just beginning to realise his considerable potential and not only would he have made a growing contribution to his academic area but, more importantly, a real impact in helping to shape the economy of the nation he loved so much.

Sadly, that potential has been cut tragically short although the foundations he has established within his field here in Wales will be something we will continue to build upon in the years to come.

As a colleague, I will miss his intelligence, his wisdom and his insights but, as a friend, I will miss his conversation, his kindness and, above all, his laughter.

Cysga'n dawel, hen ffrind.

| Dylan Jones-Evans is creator of Wales Fast Growth 50 and Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the University of the West of England

Martin was just starting to realise his potential
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 5, 2017
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