By Claire West

The Welsh Assembly Government is teaming up with Sir Terry Matthews to create a new graduate entrepreneurship programme aimed at creating a new generation of high calibre technology entrepreneurs.

The scheme, which is in the final stages of development, would be in partnership with Sir Terry Matthews’ Wesley Clover organisation and the Waterloo Foundation. It will be administered by a not-for- profit foundation called ‘Alacrity’.

The Programme will initially manage 10 graduates a year through an entrepreneurial 'Boot Camp' providing intensive coaching and training. They would be mentored by experienced entrepreneurs and undertake an intense educational process to equip them for the rigours of starting up a technology company.

After leaving ‘Boot Camp’, the graduates will then be supported to establish new technology companies headquartered in Wales and identify opportunities to develop new products.

At this stage, the private sector and the public sector will make an investment into any new companies, through a managed fund, in return for an equity stake. The project is intended to run for five years with the Assembly Government providing just over £2.8 million as equal funding with the other Alacrity partners.

The programme is designed so that the parties contribution to the cost of the Foundation would have an equal percentage return from the spin-outs, therefore ensuring it complies with European law.

Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said,

“This exciting new project is aimed at creating a new generation of entrepreneurs who will create the kind of technology companies we need to drive our economy forward. It is entrepreneurs who will create the jobs and prosperity Wales needs to compete on the global stage. This programme will put 10 graduates through their paces each year and equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed.”

Sir Terry Matthews said,

“I am delighted to be working with the Welsh Assembly Government and the other Alacrity Foundation supporters to provide a platform to create a new generation of Welsh based technology companies. Alacrity will operate development programs designed to teach promising young engineering and business graduates how to build successful technology companies.

“The program provides collaborative applied research projects with multi-national Strategic Partners, where graduates are assigned to projects that form the basis of a real technology product or service opportunity. The Foundation facilitates the strategic industry partners to bring known problems and opportunities from the marketplace to the project teams, who build products to solve these real-world business issues with an assurance of contractual commitment. The successful project teams form new technology companies, with continuing support and funding assistance to give the graduates an invaluable head start to an entrepreneurial future. We have an excellent talent pool in our Welsh graduates and this significant investment in the Alacrity Foundation gives the teams the entrepreneurial opportunity of a lifetime."

Lord David Currie said,

“The Alacrity Foundation provides a unique opportunity to align our best graduates with the training, mentoring and market opportunities needed to succeed. In these challenging economic conditions, this unique programme will create young entrepreneurs capable of building a new generation of technology companies. I am hugely grateful to the Welsh Assembly Government, Sir Terry Matthews and our other supporters for being involved in this exciting venture.”

The project is part of the Assembly Government’s drive to develop entrepreneurial skills in the Welsh economy, which includes the revised ‘Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy for Wales (Yes). Its goal is to equip young people between the ages of 5 to 25 with entrepreneurial skills and attitudes to help realise their potential, whether it’s setting up in business, working for someone else or being active in the community.