First Prince of Wales Scholar named

Posted on 19 January 2010

Debbie Garside

The University of Wales is delighted to announce that the first recipient of a Prince of Wales Innovation Scholarship (POWIS) award is Debbie Garside. Debbie began researching in November 2009 with Pembrokeshire-based Geolang Ltd, a company renowned for its innovative work inproviding a range of services related to software solutions and geolinguistic research.

Working alongside academic experts from Wrexham’s Glyndŵr University, thePOWIS investment will enable GeoLang to develop exciting new products relating to language, human visual perception and internet technologies.

POWIS is an innovative new £11.4 million initiative, managed by the University’s GlobalAcademy programme, which brings the private sector in Wales together with higher education and bright young graduates from anywhere in the world.

The idea behind the POWIS venture, which was launched formally by HRH The Prince of Wales at Clarence House last year, is to inject new ideas and energy into the Welsh economy, bringing the best minds to work with businesses to develop new innovative projects.

With each scholarship worth £100,000, POWIS is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the European Union’s Convergence programme administered by the Welsh Assembly Government, private sector investment and the University of Wales’ own funds. The scheme will provide 100 world-class graduates to Welsh businesses between 2009 and 2014, supporting them through a programme that is amongst the best financially supported PhD packages in the world.

Debbie Garside, as the POWIS PhD Scholar,will be undertaking her three year research period utilising a unique database created by Geolang Ltd. This database was created by the company while they were developing the ISO international standard for language encoding. Debbie’s research will create a novel software code that the company can use to produce software products that improve internet security or accessibility. In doing so,Geolang Ltd hope to diversify their customer base, selling licenses to majorsoftware and hardware developers around the world. The commercial potential of this research is hoped to be at least a £250,000 increase in turnover for the company and fits with the company’s ambitions of employing a further four to six members of staff.

After more than 20 years as a successful entrepreneur, Debbie was keen to undertake a post-graduate qualification to formalise her status as one of the principal UK experts in language encoding. Debbie identified POWIS as a way of taking advantage of her unique experience while helping a Welsh business to dedicate time to research that would otherwise have been overwhelming.

On receiving her POWIS award, Debbie said:

“The team at Geolang and I are extremely grateful for the opportunity to develop further our business ideas and visions with the assistance of top class supervisors from academia and industry alike both here in Wales and abroad.

“This is an exciting project for Wales that will put many innovative products from Welsh companies on the world stage. I’m very honoured and excited to be the first scholar to benefit from the support offered by the Prince of Wales Innovation Scholarships.”

Supervisors to the project from academia and the International Business Community include Dr Richard Picking and Professor Vic Grout from Glyndŵr University’s Centre for Applied Internet Research (CAIR), Dr Kevin Larson from Microsoft and world renowned writing systems and Unicode expert Michael Everson from Evertype in Ireland.

Professor Dylan Jones-Evans, Director of Research and Innovation at University of Wales commented:

“The Prince of Wales InnovationScholarships programme is all about bringing academics and businesses together for the benefit of the Welsh economy, regardless of their location. The University of Wales aims to encourage innovation across all parts of Wales through POWIS and other initiatives. I am proud that the first POWIS scholarship will utilise Glyndŵr University’s expertise, based in North East Wales, for the benefit of an SME based in South West Wales.”

HRH The Prince of Wales added:

“I am proud, as the University’s Chancellor, to lend my support to the Scholarships … they are, I think, a very practical – and very exciting – answer to how higher education can help the Welsh economy.”


Notes for Editors:

For Press and Media information, please contact Joanna Davies, Head ofCommunications, University of Wales: Tel: 07534 228754

More information about Debbie Garside:

Debbie Garside was born in Crewkerne in Somerset in 1963. Debbie grew up in Sherborne, Dorset where she was the youngest Town Councillor at the age of 28. She moved to Wales in 1994 and was an Advisory Board Member for the Wikimedia Foundation until June 2009.

Debbie also worked as the Managing Director for ICT Enterprise Ltd and is the Chief Executive Officer of the not-for-profit World Language DocumentationCentre.

She is actively involved in the creation of International (ISO) and British(BSI) Standards and is currently the project leader and Editor of ISO 639-6which was published during 2009.

About POWIS:

  • Each POWIS scholarship places a world class scholar in a company for a period of three years during which time they undertake research and development on any aspect of the company’s work; whether that is to improve the company’s products and service, their internal processes or the way that they interact with other companies.
  • POWIS Scholars are expected to be based with their host company in Wales on a full time basis and use the outcomes of that time to complete a PhD. It has to be a mutually beneficial agreement, with the company and the scholar both getting the greatest possible advantage from the programme.

To find out more about POWIS please email: or visit


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