Wales Start-up Awards set to return for second year

The Wales Start-up Awards, which are aimed at giving new businesses throughout Wales the opportunity to be recognised, are set to return for the second year.

Sponsored by Natwest and Entrepreneurial Spark, they’re the only awards in Wales that are exclusive to people who have started a business within three years.

Brighter Foods, which won four trophies last year, is supporting this year’s awards as sponsors of the Food and Drink Start-up of the Year category.

They’re joined by the likes of Welsh ICE, Abel+Imry, IQE, Hydro Industries, Kukd, Stockomendation, Wales Council for Voluntary Action and the Welsh Government.

The awards were established last year by Professor Dylan Jones-Evans OBE, founder of the Wales Fast Growth 50, and Liz Brookes, who is managing director of Grapevine Event Management.

The 2017 awards will recognise a range of key industries, including the likes of construction, creative, digital, social enterprise, technology and lifestyle.

All entrants will be automatically entered into four regional awards: North Wales, Cardiff Capital Region, Swansea Bay Region and Rural Wales.

Commenting on the launch of the 2017 awards, Professor Dylan Jones-Evans said: “Wales is rapidly evolving into the entrepreneurial economy, with nearly 60,000 new businesses created since 2010.

“As a result, Wales is performing better than many other regions in developing would-be entrepreneurs – people whose backgrounds range from so-called ‘millennials’ rejecting traditional corporate careers to baby-boomers taking a lifetime’s worth of industry experience and starting their own business later on in life.

“These awards provide a unique opportunity to recognise and celebrate the many achievements of these opportunistic individuals whose efforts are making a significant contribution to the wider Welsh economy.”

Liz Brookes said: “Now in their second year, these awards continue to represent a marked shift away from the traditional awards format that many people will be used to.

“Aside from being the only awards that recognise the hard work and successes of those businesses who have been trading for less than three years, the event itself is very different – back ties and gowns are out, smart casual is in.

“In keeping with the overall sentiment of the awards, The Depot in Cardiff will play host for the second year in succession – itself an entrepreneurial start-up business where street food and craft beer from Welsh enterprise will be served to those attending.

Two of the biggest ambassadors of the Wales Start-up Awards are Caroline Thompson, entrepreneur development manager at headline sponsor Natwest, and Gareth Jones, CEO of Welsh Innovation Centre for Enterprise (ICE).

Thompson said: “NatWest has always had a great reputation for supporting start-up businesses across Wales and we are delighted to be involved in these exciting and successful awards for the second year.

“Our award winning partnership with Entrepreneurial Spark helps us play a vital role in powering entrepreneurs from the early stages of validation and starting up all the way through to high growth and scale.”

Gareth Jones added: “The energy in the room at the awards last year was unlike any other awards evening that I had ever attended.

“We’ve already seen shortlisted companies at last year’s awards go on to raise millions of pounds worth of investment, expand their operations into new international markets, and show Wales to be a great place for entrepreneurs to thrive.

“I would highly recommend anyone considering applying to take a shot, it could payback big time.”