By Claire West

The Welsh Innovation Centre for Enterprise (ICE ), which had its official launch recently, has announced it is on course to create 500 new companies and 3,000 new jobs.

The Centre is being supported by the Welsh Government which has contributed a total of £350,000 towards set-up costs and providing bursaries to entrepreneurs, complementing funding from private sector backers.

Welsh ICE supports the Welsh Government's determination to stimulate entrepreneurship and help the growth of small businesses that are proving increasingly important to the Welsh economy.

Since opening in summer 2012, Welsh ICE, which is based in Caerphilly, has welcomed in 50 fledgling companies, supported the creation of 85 jobs, and forecasts 140 jobs by December 2014 and 3,000 by 2018 as a result of its initial successes.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said:

“Welsh ICE was established to provide a unique, inexpensive environment where anyone with a passion for enterprise could thrive under experienced mentors and access the resources start-ups so desperately need.

“More importantly it serves to make entrepreneurialism a real choice for school leavers, graduates and the unemployed, and is proving to be a leading light in driving wider trends for rising levels of entrepreneurial activity certainly in Wales.

“The Welsh Government has introduced enterprise initiatives that support existing learning plans at all levels of primary, secondary and further education which is complemented by dedicated start up and business support services to help new and young businesses. Centres like Welsh ICE can crucially provide the next step."

Founded by former National Britannia Chairman Anthony Record and his son William, Welsh ICE offers affordable shared working space, financial support, funded training, regular mentoring and business reviews.

Welsh ICE co-founder Gareth Jones said a steady stream of would-be entrepreneurs had approached Welsh ICE over the past year for help and support, often bringing two to three new businesses a week into being as a result.

He continued:

“As founders we are delighted that the talent and creativity we knew existed is finally becoming apparent. Now we want to build on this and continue driving the wider conversation around small businesses - which as we know has been identified as vital to the future of the UK economy as a whole.”

Members businesses including Bafta-nominated games developer Cohort Studios and branding agency Rose-Innes Designs, which works with household names including Tesco and Dorling Kindersley, will also attend.