TD Weekly (29/08/2019)

From funding boosts for 5G services and semiconductor developments to exciting new research from Tech Nation, here are the latest stories from the Welsh tech sector. 

£30 million for 5G in rural Wales 

Wales is set to benefit from £30 million of government funding to roll out next-generation 5G services across rural communities. 

As part of a UK-wide competition, around ten rural locations will benefit from trials of 5G applications and services offering speeds 10 to 20 times faster than previous generations. 

Monmouthshire is just one part of Wales that has previously been selected as a 5G testbed to improve connectivity in rural areas. 

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said: “This funding demonstrates the UK Government’s commitment towards eliminating the disparity in connection between urban and rural areas whilst exploring innovative ways to use 5G technology to develop emerging industries, supporting our rural economy in Wales.

“This is a great opportunity for rural areas to boost the productivity and capacity of their digital infrastructure and I’d encourage local partners to come together to apply to benefit their communities.”

£1.3 million boost for semiconductor industry 

The Welsh Government has unveiled plans to invest £1.3 million in the development of process technologies for applications such as autonomous vehicles, future mobility and artificial intelligence. 

Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the ASSET project (Application Specific Semiconductor Etching Technology) is aimed at accelerating growth in the Welsh semiconductor market. 

It will bring together partners such as SPTS Technologies, IQE, the Compound Semiconductor Centre (CSC), Biovici, BioMEMS, Swansea and Cardiff Universities and Manchester’s Integrated Compound Semiconductors Ltd. 

Professor Owen Guy, head of chemistry at Swansea University and lead of the ASSET project, said: “The ASSET project is another example of south Wales’ semiconductor cluster working together to deliver world-class technology and drive economic growth for Wales.”

Tech is booming in Cardiff 

Cardiff is one of the UK’s fastest-growing technology economies, according to new research from industry body Tech Nation.

Tech Nation’s Bright Tech Future Jobs/Skills report shows that more than 90 technology companies have been created in the city over the past three years. 

The city also boasts over 21,500 digital tech jobs, with demand for roles such as Python developer having increased by 34 times. 

George Windsor, head of insights of Tech Nation, said Cardiff’s rocketing tech companies are making a mighty contribution to the UK tech sector. He added: “With multi-million-pound investments in the region’s brightest startups and demand for digital tech roles burgeoning, the Welsh capital has established itself as a digital force to be reckoned with.”

Ian Ashley Jones, co-founder of Cardiff-based artificial intelligence firm AMPLYFI, said: “The talent pool in and around Cardiff was just one compelling reason for AMPLYFI to headquarter there. Since then, the Welsh Government has been proactively working to transform it into a hotbed of Deep Tech innovation.”

Soft drinks manufacturer goes digital 

Radnor Hills, an award-winning water and soft drinks manufacturer based in Wales, has launched an online store for customers. 

Through the secure online store, customers can purchase a range of soft drinks at a click of a button and they’ll be delivered with free UK mainland shopping.

Founded in Powys, the firm produces a million bottles of soft drink daily, employs 170 people and is valued at £47 million. 

William Watkins, owner and managing director of Radnor Hills, said: “We are delighted to open our first online shop for the general public to purchase our products by the case. This is a first for us as we previously only ever supplied B2B customers.”