As an emerging tech region, Wales has the fastest growing digital economy outside of London. The growth of the financial and professional sector in Wales has led to a thriving Fintech cluster, supported by the region’s incubator and co-working spaces that provide flexible, quality accommodation. The most promising fintech companies can apply to accelerator programmes, such as Innovation Point's Digital Dozen, Barclays Eagle Lab and NatWest's Entrepreneur Accelerator in Cardiff.
A vibrant meet-up community allows start-ups, investors and larger companies to meet and share ideas. Digital Tuesday and Tech Dragons are two groups that meet up regularly to share knowledge and insight on the latest digital advances.
With a government that encourages entrepreneurs, and an abundance of talent graduating from the region’s universities, it’s clear to see why companies are choosing to grow here. BT, HPE and Dell all have a large presence in Wales. Up and coming fintech companies include Wealthify; an online investment service using smart algorithms to democratise investing, Sonovate; a contract finance provider for the recruitment industry, BipSync; providing research management software for investors and Delio; an investment platform which connects a financial institution’s high net worth clients with private investment opportunities.
Wales has also invested in its digital infrastructure with an ambitious superfast broadband programme. Cardiff has its own internet exchange, with the second highest number of customers connected outside of London. Europe’s largest data centre, Next Generation Data, is also based in the region. The 50-acre campus is built to US Federal standards and connects directly to the national grid. This gives users unrivalled security and connectivity.
Technical Skills in Wales
In Wales, there is a strong emphasis on providing graduates with the skills required for tomorrow’s workforce, with universities working closely with the industry to shape degree courses.
Wales can provide highly-skilled, work-ready tech graduates. Universities in South Wales have excellent academic and research credentials but it is academia’s close ties with industry and the focus on providing hands-on experience that makes the region stand out.
Cardiff University, working in partnership with government and industry, has created a centre of excellence for software engineering in Wales. The National Software Academy delivers an innovative degree, co-designed by industry. The programme takes place in a modern workplace environment instead of a lecture hall, with the curriculum emphasising a range of cutting edge cloud, mobile and web technologies - all of which get applied to real world projects for industry and public sector clients. Over 150 Welsh businesses have engaged with the academy, with graduates emerging as ready to work software engineer professionals.
In Newport, the National Cyber Security Academy, has welcomed students onto its Applied Cyber Security degree. The academy brings the University of South Wales, government and industry together, drawing on the expertise of GCHQ and members of the South Wales Cyber Security Cluster to develop its curriculum. Students work on live briefs so that training remains relevant, producing the cybercrime experts of the future.
The innovative approach to tech skills is set to continue with some exciting developments in development. Swansea University is consolidating its reputation in computer science – it ranked fifth in the Guardian’s university league table 2017 – with a bespoke build Computational Foundry. The development, due to open in September 2018, is the latest addition to Swansea Bay Campus, which is pioneering an approach to co-location in which research scientists, students and industry intermingle. Companies will be able to share facilities such as research labs kitted out with cutting edge equipment and prototypes, and inspirational meeting and event areas designed to encourage conversations and collaboration.