A truly revolutionary company created to help tech innovators find the funding, networks and connections needed to give great ideas a global impact, while growing the Welsh economy, launched today (Wednesday) in Newport.
Innovation Point aims to strengthen Wales’ place in the worldwide technology market, identifying opportunities and providing services to help develop new and disruptive technology ideas and drive investment to Wales.
A year in the planning, the company has been established as a partnership between Welsh Government and the private sector, to offer expert advice and support to Welsh companies. According to ESTnet, the tech sector is growing considerably and currently worth an estimated £8.2 billion to the Welsh economy.
While big hitters like Sony, BT, Airbus and Admiral are making a huge contribution, 99% of Wales' companies are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), of which 95% are mircro-businesses, meaning the time and expertise needed to access funding and networks can prove impossible to find while running a business. Added to that, the Tech Nation 2016 report revealed 'limited access to finance' was the second biggest challenge digital tech entrepreneurs in Wales faced.
The new company sits at the heart of the funding community and aims to connect scale-ups and start-ups across the country, making it easier to build partnership collaborations with private, public sector and academic partners across the world.
David Warrender, chief executive of Innovation Point, said: “We’re not short of good ideas in Wales, but where we need to be much better is in making them happen at scale. Our economic future and place in the global economy really does depend on exploiting fully the power of the imagination. Innovation Point exists to answer a real need from tech entrepreneurs who tell us that they find access to funding and partners difficult. And they’re right. It is. That’s why we’re here, to build an environment around our brightest minds and boldest ideas which gives them support and structure in finding the finance and connections which can nurture that idea into a real game-changing innovation.”
Innovation Point has already engaged with leading aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, a range of SMEs and created a significant collaboration with Cardiff University. Cardiff University's Software Academy is addressing the national shortage in skilled programmers and software engineers. Innovation Point's aim for the Academy is to ensure that a steady stream of graduates trained in Wales will enter tech jobs 'work-ready'. In addition, University of South Wales students are also benefiting from Innovation Point's expertise at their Cyber Security Academy in Newport.
Innovation Point will assist in creating clusters, linking like-minded businesses together and harnessing the existing technology talents in Wales. Its strategy will be to focus on the key strengths of technology businesses in Wales in terms of the wider UK economy and business needs. Experts at Innovation Point have the industry contacts, knowledge and expertise to orchestrate connections that can produce real results for Wales.
Simon J. Gibson OBE, chair of Innovation Point, said: “We will be working at the cutting edge of technology development and at the heart of the investment community to match organisations who have the best new, developing and disruptive ideas to the opportunities they need to drive them towards their next stage of growth.
“We’ll also look to lead on solving issues facing the wider technology industry in Wales. Without the links and access to funding that Innovation Point offers, we could have a generation of successful entrepreneurs with technologies with the potential to change global sectors, failing to break through and falling at the early hurdles."
The new company is also behind Digital 2016, which brings together over 2,000 delegates from a wide range of industry sectors to Celtic Manor Resort for two days (6-7 June) to focus on how technology is revolutionising the way we live and do business by addressing themes such as tech, skills, security and funding. Keynote talks, workshops and interactive sessions have been confirmed with experts from leading players including Google, Amazon and Hewlett Packard.