The summer has officially ended, and we’re now heading into the final months of 2016. It’s the perfect time, then, to reflect on great things that happened in the Welsh tech sector during August.
There was a plethora of exciting announcements and developments last month. These include a new milestone for Wales’s own tech seed fund, as well as an increased valuation for a young PropTech firm and the release of a report confirming the success of the sector.
Big partnership for design agency
Sequence, a digital design and creative agency based in Cardiff Bay, formed a lucrative partnership with film and television company Pinewood Studios.
The firm signed a deal with the production group to design and develop a locations database solution for its worldwide divisions, something that could transform the way films are made.
Pinewood On Location, as the product is being called, will be a specialist website that lets location managers, producers and production managers find approved film locations.
Dave Greaves, BVI operations manager at Pinewood Studios, said: “Sequence went the extra mile with the ideas and concepts. We also felt that Sequence have a great team that we would want to work with, and partner with for the long term.”
Chyrelle Anstee, account director at Sequence, said: “Pinewood Studios are such an exciting brand, it is a privilege to partner with them. The Pinewood On Location website really showcases their location services using some breathtaking imagery and clever interaction so the user can immerse themselves in the Pinewood location experience.”
Welsh seed fund hits £3m milestone
August was also a big month for The Wales Technology Seed Fund, hitting a £3m investment milestone. It was launched in 2014 by the Welsh Government and Finance Wales to invest in tech businesses.
It offers young Welsh tech firms between £50,000 to £250,000 in funding and aims to put Wales’s growing tech sector on the map. So far, the fund has given financial backing to more than 20 businesses.
Over the past few months, it’s made equity investments in software companies Paperclip, Hudman and Koherent. Cwmbran-based Hudman received a six-figure investment and brought Finance Wales to the £3m mark.
Economy Cabinet Secretary Ken Skates said: “The fund is supporting young technology starts ups at a critical stage of their development and providing the seedfunding needed to support the commercialisation of their intellectual property.
“I am pleased to see the fund is having an impact and businesses are also benefiting from Finance Wales’ links with private and institutional co-investors. We need to support home grown talent and attract more of these types of business with high growth potential to Wales.”
New co-working space launches
Co-working is proving to popular among Welsh tech businesses, and a new space has just launched in Cardiff. Tramshed Tech, as you can tell by the name, is aimed specifically at digital businesses and professionals.
It’s based at the original Tram Depot, a landmark building in central Cardiff. This has been an important part of the city since the 1990s and is constantly evolving.
The space features a large co-working area with bespoke tables and hot desks, a meeting room that can hold up to 40 people, and three small meeting pods where around eight people can work.
Tramshed Tech, which is a private sector-funded project, was created by Louise Harris and Mark John, the directors of Big Learning Company. They had been struggling to find a suitable office space so designed their own.
Elizabeth Arnold, head of memberships at Tramshed Tech, said: “Our aim for this development is for Tramshed Tech is to become a natural home for the digital tech and creative sectors in Cardiff with the hope of attracting sector specific Welsh entrepreneurs and small businesses.
“We want to grow this industry within Wales, and with BBC Wales and S4C on our doorstep in their planned new broadcast centre – and with some fantastic companies including WildFlame Productions, Blurrt and Red and Black Films already signed up to be our office tenants – we see this as just the start.”
Proptech firm receives new valuation
Cardiff-based property tech start-up University Cribs received a valuation of £1.1m after raising an undisclosed sum of capital to transform student letting.
It’s an online platform where letting agents and student housing companies can advertise their properties to students right around the country. The website has already been backed by Keylet and Imperial Letters, which are two of Wales’s largest letting agents, as well as hall operators Homes for Students and CRM Students.
Jack Jenkins, co-founder and director of UC, said: “A recent survey by UCAS media shows that 56% of students would rather view potential properties online than in person, and University Cribs is simply stepping in to meet this demand for time-saving.
“University Cribs offers student accommodation providers such an online marketing platform, ensuring their properties are seen by thousands of students in their local area. With our strategically built social media channels we are able to maximise their exposure to the target demographic.”
Welsh tech scene quickly growing
A report released by English law firm Nockolds found the Welsh digital industry is the fastest growing outside the British capital, London.
It revealed the number of Welsh digital and tech companies has grown by 9.2% in the last few years, from 3,000 in 2014 to 3,275 in 2015.
Nicola Lucas, a solicitor at Nockolds, said: “Cardiff is particularly attractive for financial technology start-ups. The growth of the financial sector in Cardiff, which has benefited from the relocation of back and middle office functions post-financial crisis, is providing fertile ground for fintech businesses who have a significant market on their doorstep.”
That’s all for this month’s roundup. You can read previous instalments here.