Blog: Getting technical in Wales
by Dave Sadler, April 26
Thanks to more than £115m of venture capital invested in Welsh tech start-ups since 2012, Wales is currently enjoying unprecedented economic expansion in its digital sector – making it an excellent time to consider starting up a business here.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Wales is an ideal location to launch a tech business. Close to London and with excellent transport links, from the thriving manufacturing sector in the valleys to our rapidly expanding tech scene, we’re growing all the time.
Of course, when it comes to launching a tech start-up or any new business there’s a hundred and one things to consider before taking the plunge. Here’s just a few to think about.
How attractive will you be as an employer?
A major plus side for any start-up (but particularly technology) is that it’s new. Digital and IT specialists want to work on ‘greenfield’ projects which are developed from scratch, want to work on emerging technologies, and want to truly make a difference. These are things he right start-up can offer.
We’re also finding that start-ups can often appeal due to ‘quirky’ work environments – pool tables, table tennis and the like which are appearing more and more.
These companies are quite advanced in what they want to do; they know that they’re in the market at the right time; and they want to appeal to new, fresh candidates – who are starting to value impact rather security and want to determine the fastest and most fun route to becoming a digital expert.
What funding is available?
There’s no doubt about it. Creating a new business is a lot riskier than sitting comfortably with a guaranteed wage coming in at the end of the month.
Although there’s been much discussion around a purported lack of funding opportunities for Welsh companies, to me the increasing levels of investment in this area over the last six years shows that this is on the rise.
There has also been much discussion around ‘Matched Funding’ schemes for new businesses, which feel that the government should be giving out grants or investing in their business rather than just assisting. It will be interesting to see how this develops.
In the meantime, current initiatives such as Entrepreneurial Spark – supported by Natwest – and Digital Eagle Labs by Barclays are helping to bolster growing businesses, but most importantly are giving new businesses much valued corporate backing and network reach, which is something I hope to see more of as the Welsh economy deepens.
Where in Wales?
Research carried out by Tech City UK has shown that Cardiff and Swansea are playing a leading role in this emerging Welsh sector. Both cities featured in the Top 10 amongst the UK for digital salary growth and Gross Value Added (GVA) growth.
Of course, other areas such as Newport and North Wales are also playing a significant role in the country’s thriving economy. It’s clear that the Welsh digital era is here to stay, and I look forward to seeing it grow over the coming years.
At Acorn, we love working with start-ups as it’s such an exciting yet crucial time to be involved. They know where they want to go and through collaborative thinking from the beginning we can share their vision right from the start and go through the journey with them.
On the whole, we’ve seen a massive increase of people wanting to work for these up-and-coming companies as it gives them the opportunity to truly make an impact on their sector and do something meaningful – so be rest assured, there’s plenty of talent in Wales to support your business growth.
Dave Sadler is Head of IT & Digital at Acorn Recruitment. Throughout his career he has set up various Development & Software teams from scratch and as a result works closely with the Welsh Government, educational organisations and the wider IT community to help shape the future of the IT industry.
Image credit: Mario Sánchez Prada