TD Weekly (04/10/2019)

From the launch of a new research and development facility for emerging technologies to the release of a digital innovation report, here’s the latest news from the Welsh tech scene. 

New centre for AI and robotics

Cardiff University will open a centre for emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, robots and virtual reality after securing £3.5 million of funds. 

Officials said the Centre for Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Human-Machine Systems (IROHMS) will position Cardiff and South Wales as a hub for emerging and innovative technologies.

The facility will research areas of strategic importance for Wales, including high-value digital manufacturing, wireless factory machinery, aerospace, autonomous vehicles and the societal challenges facing healthcare and assisted living.

Professor Rossi Setchi, lead principal investigator of IROHMS, said: “This new centre draws on a vision of the world that is human-centric, interactive, interconnected, data-rich, knowledge-intensive and smart.

“By bringing together our collective expertise under one banner, we will maximise our research expertise and drive forward innovations that tackle some of the most pressing societal challenges.

“Our aim is to make South Wales an area of excellence in AI, Robotics and Human-Machine Systems, that is known across the world, attracting further investments and the very best research expertise.”

Digital innovation report launched

A report exploring the opportunities and challenges presented by digital innovation in Wales has been comissioned by the Welsh Government. 

Compiled by business leaders, academics, practitioners and entrepreneurs, the report explores the actions that need to be taken to meet the challenges of digital innovation and the opportunities they present.

Some of the recommendations include the establishment of an Artificial Intelligence Institute for Wales and strengthening analysis on demand for skills and future job opportunities.

Minister for Economy and Transport Ken Skates, said: “It’s clear that digital innovation will play a huge role in not only ensuring Wales’ economic and work landscape is fit for the future, but that we’re exploiting opportunities new technologies present to continue building an economy that is ambitious, innovative and inclusive for all.”

Professor Phillip Brown said: “Digital innovation can be a game-changer for Wales but it’s important to remember that technology is not fate. We can only truly harness the positive influence of digital innovation if we adopt a different way of thinking and dare to do things differently.”

Cardiff firm launches cryptocurrency protection

Coincover, a startup based in Cardiff, has launched a new insurance service to ensure that people with digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum don’t have their investments lost or stolen. 

While cryptocurrencies are virtual products that can be stored in offline hard drives or online accounts, both storage options can be subject to theft or loss. CoinCover claims to make investing in cryptocurrency safer and more accessible for consumers.

Coincover customers are protected by 24/7 wallet monitoring, lost key cover, secure key storage, anti-theft guarantee and due diligence checks. It protects more than 100 different cryptocurrencies.

David Janczewski, co-founder of Coincover, said: “Cryptocurrency ownership is growing fast and becoming more mainstream, but it can still feel like a risky investment. Virtual currencies, by their very nature, are a new concept for many.

 “Since the market launched in 2009, cryptocurrency has been associated with scandal, theft and black-market trading. Plus, we’ve all heard reports about people who have had their cryptocurrency wallets hacked or lost their investments due to hardware mishaps but with Coincover, we aim to make this a thing of the past.”

New business incubator for South Wales

Lee Waters, deputy minister for economy and transport, has opened the first standalone university-based business incubator in Wales.

The facility, based at the former Students’ Union at the Cardiff Campus of the University of South Wales, will provide an environment where entrepreneurs can test and develop enterprising ideas.vide

Supported by funding from Higher Education Funding Council for Wales’ (HEFCW) Civic Engagement Fund, it is comprised of 18 desks, three offices, and hotdesking space for up to 20 individuals.

Mr Waters said: “Our Economic Action Plan is committed to developing an entrepreneurial culture here in Wales, with a focus on supporting young people from school, college and university to make that transition to starting a business.

“The Startup Stiwdio provides sense of place for entrepreneurs and complements the wider network of hubs supported by Welsh Government in Valleys and more rural communities, alongside those within the private sector.”

The incubator is the brainchild of Professor Dylan Jones-Evans, assistant pro vice chancellor of entrepreneurship at USW. He said: “The Startup Stiwdio demonstrates yet again that entrepreneurship is at the heart of what we do at USW.”