Duke of York celebrates Welsh business and innovation in Cardiff

Last week, key delegates from business, academia, creative industries and technology gathered to watch several Welsh start-ups pitch in front of the Duke of York.

The prestigious Pitch@Palace business competition, pioneered by the Duke, came to Cardiff for the first time on February 24th to celebrate Welsh business and innovation.

It gave several of Wales’s brightest tech entrepreneurs the opportunity to share their ideas and potentially gain a place in the upcoming Pitch@Palace bootcamp.

Robert Lo Bue and Neil Cocker of tech community Cardiff Start organised the event, and it took place at the Tramshed Tech co-working space in Cardiff.

With the theme being human tech and augmentation, Vision Games, Helpful Peeps and Alkosens were named as the three winners in the Welsh section of the event.

Accelerating bright ideas

Prince Andrew, Duke of York, founded Pitch@Palace in 2014 as a way to support entrepreneurs with the acceleration of their businesses and ideas.

The event aims to connect them to potential supporters, including CEOs, investors, elevators and key business partners. It occurs two times a year.

Pitch@Tour is a newer addition, and it seeks to connect stakeholders on a community level. This is the first time that the event has come to Cardiff.

Speaking to Tech Dragons, the Duke explained that London isn’t the only place where tech is thriving and that entrepreneurs are innovating in all parts of the country.

“London doesn’t have a monopoly in this country of where innovation or technology is housed. In many cases, you’ll find that the standard of living and the lifestyle is better outside London,” he said.

“At some point, a business of repute is going to have to London to do something. But that doesn’t mean that it has to live there. It can be based anywhere.

“In fact, I’ve seen some very good technology companies in places like Cornwall, where they have good access to fibre. And the lifestyle is different.

“As far as I am concerned, the more places we can go around the country in order to find technology, the better. It is easier for us to go around than them.”

Putting Wales on the map

Cardiff Start co-founder and director Robert Lo Bue, who helped to bring Pitch@Palace to Cardiff, said this sort of event is a confirmation that Welsh tech is in a good place.

“I am totally relieved at the moment. It was an excellent day, and everything went as planned. For us, it  is a confirmation that we’re doing the right thing and that we register on someone’s radar,” he said.

“So Welsh technology start-ups at the moment have never been as good as they are now. Five years ago, nothing like this could have ever happened.

He believes that the last few years have been a golden age for the Welsh technology industry and that there’s still even more success to come.

“In the last year or two, thanks to the support of a growing tech community, the state of the industry has never been as strong. And it can only get better,” he added.

“We are starting to go across border and register on people’s radars in places like London. Soon, hopefully, the world. Now we’re just waiting for our first massive exit.”

Exciting opportunity

Saf Nazeer, co-founder of Helpfulpeeps, was one of the entrepreneurs to reach the bootcamp stages of the competition. He’s created a social networking site for volunteers.

“I think it’s about trying to get to St James’s Palace so that we can actually pitch in front of such an important audience of business people,” he said.

“It was great to be here, and really, I wasn’t sure what to expect. So I’m trying to enjoy every little bit and take one step at the time. So, next, Bootcamp in Nottingham.”

He added: “Helpfulpeeps is a new social network where people share their time, skills and knowledge to help people out for free. Our vision is to build a global community with millions of people helping each other every day.”

Image credit: Matthew Horwood