Welsh ICE opens next round of start-up funding

Caerphilly-based innovation and business centre Welsh ICE is inviting vibrant start-ups and entrepreneurs to apply for its next round of funding.

This follows a phenomenal response to the intake made last November, where more than 60 business people were awarded with space and support at the centre.

It now wants to drive the next generation of start-ups by offering them capital. With the funding, businesses are given a structured path to sustainability – creating jobs at the same time.

The support is to be delivered through the centre’s ICE 50 business programme, where 50 firms will get a fully funded start-up package – including desk space, mentoring and high-speed internet access.

Mandy Weston, COO at Welsh ICE, said: “The response to our previous round of applications was phenomenal – so much so that we couldn’t cap our places at 50.

“This year we hope to have a similar level of demand, especially since we recently announced our new space on campus, the Octagon.

“We want to reach out to those who have recently started a business and are finding that working from home is not all they thought it would be. There may be many people struggling to find work such as recent graduates, or those unsure about their future after a recent redundancy.

“Many people leave university or employment full of ideas and enthusiasm, but perhaps lack the necessary experience or finance. We would encourage these budding entrepreneurs to put their business ideas on paper and apply. With the guidance and support of the ICE community, it really is possible to start and grow your own business.”

The space now caters for over 120 entrepreneurs, who work across three buildings on the ICE Campus. It was recently recognised in the Senedd as having created over £13.5m value for the Welsh economy.

Big Lemon Creative, a web design and branding agency, is one business that’s seen rapid growth since joining ICE. Company director Owen Richards said the support he’s received has been a major boost to the agency.

“The business had launched prior to joining ICE, but we were very much stuck in a ‘working from home’ mind-set. We decided that in order to expand we were going to need an office as well as access to mentor support and a ready built network of businesses,” he said.

“My co-founder Kieran and I attended an event in Cardiff bay where we met ICE CEO Gareth Jones. Gareth invited us to apply for the ICE 50 and thankfully we were accepted.

“With the support of the ICE community our business has grown drastically, with 46% of our revenue in the last 12 months coming directly from connections fostered through ICE. This also includes a significant contract for some web design work with a well-known Welsh brewery.

“The future is bright at Big Lemon Creative as we are set to welcome a new employee in the next few weeks, giving us the scope to bring in new clients and further grow the business.”