Starting a tech company is never a smooth ride and your decision for a startup location to grow your business can make or break it, so every entrepreneur needs to choose carefully.
Inc.com found that a perfect city startup location must have at least 5 of the following traits:
Taking these five qualities into consideration, you’ll discover that Wales is the perfect startup location for your business to thrive.
Wales has so much to offer as a startup location and here’s evidence why:
- Supportive ecosystem
- Affordable living
- Higher education presence
- Access to funding
- Availability of potential mentors
- Growing economy
The culture surrounding your startup needs to be supportive of entrepreneurship for you to survive. Aside from financial and educational support, there needs to be more extensive support of the startup community, and Wales has it in spades.
From coworking spaces, awards and recognition ceremonies to networking events; the Welsh community fully supports the startup journey.
Startup Support Ventures:
Lead by nine of Wales’ most prominent figures from business and academia, movements like Be The Spark are setting Wales up to be a thriving hub of innovation and thriving businesses. They focus on innovation-driven entrepreneurship by linking Welsh businesses with the brightest minds in Wales. Key stakeholders and influencers across the country are encouraged to collaborate and engage with Welsh businesses, to create a more visible, simple and connected ecosystem for entrepreneurship to survive.
Award and Recognition Ceremonies:
Reward and recognition ceremonies for startups is a great way to motivate and inspire. Wales has many award and recognition events that highlight the best of local companies.
To name a couple, Wales has:
ESTnet is a network of technology organisations whose members design, develop, manufacture or integrate electronic and software technologies. Each year ESTnet hosts their award and recognition ceremony for Welsh Tech companies through The Wales Technology Awards.
Wales Startup Awards are highly celebrated in the Welsh startup scene. They provide motivation and inspiration for startups to continue with their inspirational journey. The Wales Startup awards give back to the startup community and recognise that new firms create the majority of employment, improving the economy and prosperity across Wales.
An excellent alternative for startups to get office space and be around like-minded people for that extra link to the startup community would be to use a coworking space.
For a full list of the coworking space in Wales see the BeTheSparks Map which will help you find coworking spaces across the country.
Here are a few examples of great coworking spaces in Wales:
– The Swansea Bay Technology Centre
Networking: Meetups & Networks
Collaborating with tech ecosystems will support startups and help them on the path to success. You’ll meet the right people, make the right connections and learn new information- all vital to a buzzing startup location.
Tech Nation has a fully compiled list of all the networking events in Wales for tech startups.
2. Affordable Living
Many tech graduates can’t afford to live in large cities such as London and Bristol. A startup location like Wales allows the flexibility of affordable living, while not compromising on other factors.
With Cardiff’s growing popularity, it has the same buzz that cities like London and Bristol produce, but without the same extortionate costs.
Just 15 minutes away from the Capital city and only 10 minutes from England sits an established tech community within Newport. The housing is more affordable than Cardiff and Newport has the biggest number of startups per capita in Wales. Newport already has a technology support system with many tech educational programmes and coworking spaces available.
South West and West Wales:
Swansea and the West of Wales is an incredible location to live having some of the best beach spots in the whole of the UK. With a growing tech and startup scene, Swansea is an excellent choice for having a relaxed seaside lifestyle while being close to the exciting new developments that the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal has to offer. The projects include incredible opportunities as a startup location in the digital world from incubation spaces and coworking areas for tech, ICT and creative industry startups.
3.Higher Education Presence
With Cardiff and the surrounding area being graduate focused, there are lots of advantages that higher education brings to startups. Not only is there a wealth of fresh talent and skills to choose from, but it also gives great opportunities to take on internships.
With the recent expansion in engineering, management, and computer scientist facilities, Swansea University is soaring ahead to be the best for student experience and an excellent education.
Bangor University in North Wales has also been ranked third in Wales and has received a Gold standard in the first Teaching Excellence Framework Awards.
Doug Trafelet, managing director of Pitchbook, advocates Wales as an attractive tech startup location due to its proximity to London but also due to “the strength of its universities and local talent”.
Intern programmes give startups some real advantages. There are internships available in Wales which partially fund the wages of the student, like the Santander internship programme.
4.Access to Funding and Investment
Funding can be what takes your little four-person startup to a fully-fledged company in just a short amount of years. It can be vital in transforming your business to the next level.
Luckily, Wales has incredible access to funding and investment as an ideal startup location. Tech Nation has listed a few investors, funds and support networks all which aid in investment for Welsh tech startups.
Wales – Welsh Government – Grants
Wales – Development Bank of Wales
Wales – Angels Invest Wales
Wales – Business Wales
Wales – Inspire Growth Wales
Private investment firm- Wesley Clover global investment management firm and holding company
The Welsh Government set up the Development Bank of Wales to support the Welsh economy to make it easier for business to get the financial support needed to support, strengthen and grow.
The Development Bank of Wales supports Welsh businesses through loans, co-investment, equity investment and seed finance.
5. A Pool of Potential Mentors
Just like the Be The Spark venture, there are a whole host of incredible established bodies who nurture and help startups not only survive but thrive – giving you the startup roots to make it in the community and network.
This available help is crucial to the beginning and success of the startup journey.
Tech Nation has outlined a whole list of the best code clubs, incubators, accelerators, boot camps and other support services in Wales.
Newport – Alacrity Foundation
Cardiff – Barclays Eagle Labs
Cardiff – Cardiff University – National Software Academy
Cardiff – University of South Wales – National Cyber Security Academy
Cardiff – Big Learning Company – Microsoft Regional Technology Centre
Cardiff – Codez Academy
Cardiff – ONS Data Science Campus
Port Talbot – Tech Wales
Swansea – Swansea University Computational Foundry
Wales allows fast access to the rest of the UK and Europe easily. The cities on the M4 corridor in south Wales are just a 2-hour journey from London it’s not as tucked away to the side as it may seem. In Mid and North Wales; Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool are on the doorstep.
The UK has launched it’s first 5G network, and it’s in Cardiff!
5G, launched by EE, can offer peak speeds of 100-150Mbps in Cardiff. For some comparison, the 4G network launched in 2012 could only provide their fastest speed at 50Mbps.
This is exciting times for Wales, and with Cardiff being voted 3rd best capital city in Europe, it’s no wonder our city has been the first place in getting 5G.
7.Growing Welsh Economy
Only a few years ago Wales hosted the NATO Summit, welcoming many world leaders including President Barack Obama. With the emergence of the new international Convention Centre Wales (ICCW), we see Wales hit the global map for international businesses.
With the top end technology embedded throughout the infrastructure, through using Wesley Clover tech firms, the ICC Wales is a perfect representation of the latest tech in business for Wales.
The convention centre is set to bring in hundreds of jobs and a wealth of business to Wales. All of which will contribute to the fast-growing Welsh economy.
Talking of economy, Wales has the fastest growing digital economy outside London, according to the Nockolds report on the sector. They added, Wales has emerged as one of the fastest growing UK nations with the key driver being its digital economy.
We are now seeing one- in-ten new companies in Wales being digital. With the advancement in solving problems with technology, we are at the beginning of a national digital revolution.
The current digital tech turnover in Wales is at £1.07bn, with 45,000 employed.
As you can see, there is so much potential as a startup location in Wales. It is a booming ecosystem for the startup world.
With developments in Welsh investment, education, networking, transport, communications and the economy, we are excited to see what the future holds. Watch out as Wales holds the key to new and emerging technology companies set to hit the global scale!
Want more information on how you can be part of a startup education programme and run your own business with £250,000 investments? Check out our charity incubator, The Alacrity Foundation, co-funded by The Welsh Government, Wesley Clover and the Waterloo Foundation.