Cardiff is the 16th best place in the UK for start-ups, according to national entrepreneurial campaign, StartUp Britain.
According to the study, 6,327 businesses were registered in Welsh capital in 2014, up 353 on the previous year. Across the small nation, 14,113 firms were created in 2014, against 13,462 in 2013.
There has never been a better time to start in enterprise in Wales. TheEntrepreneur Wales Awards, sponsored by Business Wales, Welsh Government, celebrates the individuals that are forging this new landscape, and recognises the journeys behind their achievements.
But why is this resurgence taking place in Wales? We asked leading business owners to outline why they think Wales has the entrepreneurial edge over the competition.
The Welsh Government and its partners in the regions have collaborated to provide grants and initiatives tailored to creating “an environment in which people feel they can start a business,” according to Keith Palmer, group CEO of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce and Centre for Business.
Funding aligned with programmes such as Jobs Growth Wales have enabled graduates to get into the right professions in a cost-effective way for start-ups, which has helped new businesses to survive recent difficult early years.
The private sector is helping too. “Accounting practices such as solicitors are now all very active in promoting the entrepreneurial spirit in Wales,” said Ken Poole, head of Economic Development at City of Cardiff Council.
“Centuries of generating real innovators and entrepreneurs” has seen Welsh people lead globally in key areas, and this has played a crucial role, Caroline Challoner, director at Cazbah Ltd, explained.
Gareth Jones, founder and CEO of Welsh ICE senses a strong social presence in Wales' entrepreneurial vitality. He said: “The valleys have been identified as an area of deprivation for decades and I think that gives people the drive to really want to make a difference to their community."
The calibre of young business people coming through the Young Enterprise Wales scheme is a key factor for YE Trustee, Martin Warren, who is “bowled over every year by the quality of applicants.”
If small is beautiful, then Wales owes much of its entrepreneurial lustre to its diminutive stature on the global economic stage; flexibility enables it to adapt quickly to new trends in the economy in sectors such as life science, energy and technology.
Property initiatives in Wales have also played an important role - “business technology units and workshop spaces are assisting start-ups at a competitive cost,” Ken Poole observes.
Similarly, good rail and road links maintain the vital connection with London. Cardiff, not two hours west of the “more crowded” UK capital offers a “less cluttered” location where some “great deals are being done” in the eyes of Peter Jones, founder and director of Smart Anchor Ventures.
Maybe Wales' edge is simply down to an ingredient unique to the country - something special in the mix of graduates, professionals and a characterful local population ready to start building the nation’s tomorrow. Communities and striking landscape are fundamental to this spirit, explained Jonathan Deacon, senior academic at the University of South Wales.
“Wherever you work in Wales, you’re not far from some of the most beautiful countryside in the world. Our work-life balance is pretty good... you’re more creative, productive and happier in what you do. As a small country, everybody really does know everyone else. When you’re in business and you’re looking for assistance, somebody will know someone who can open that door for you,” Mr Deacon said.
So there you have it: Smart, skilled and business-savvy, Wales has every reason to be proud of its proven edge as an entrepreneurial hotbed. Whether you’re after funding, advice, or it’s simply a case of location, location, location, there really is no better place than Wales for your new enterprise.