Investment and announcements grow excitement in Wales over tech potential as Digital event opens in Cardiff

18/09/2017

Over 2,000 innovators and investors from across the UK are descending on Digital at Tramshed and Tramshed Techin Cardifftoday(Monday 18th September), as some of the world’s leading tech names have championed Wales’ huge potential and growing role in the digital revolution. 

The fifth annual event could not come at a more exciting time for Wales’ tech scene, following last week’s signing of a deal for a south Wales home for the world’s first compound semiconductor cluster. The cluster could attract £375 million in private investment and create 2,000 well paid and highly skilled jobs in the region. 

Cluster member IQE Plc has an 80 per cent market share in compound semiconductor wafers, the technology behind the 3D sensors found in smart devices. The technology is central to the next generation of smart phones and tablets, with the Cardiff-based company ideally positioned to benefit from the rapid increase in the smart tech industry and its emerging products.

A host of big names excited to see Wales’ flourishing tech scene up close will share keynote talks around themes which will shape the way Wales and the world develops over the coming years, including the Internet of Things (IoT), investors, talent and smart cities.

These include industry leaders like Fortune and TIMElauded digital strategist Inma Martinez, techUK president Jacqueline de Rojas, Red Letter Day entrepreneur and Dragons Den star Rachel Elnaugh, and Alexandra Deschamps Sonsino, named the most world’s most influential Internet of Things expert (Postscapes, 2016).

One influencer certain Wales has evolved its offer to investors is ‘The Grumpy Entrepreneur’ David Murray-Hundley.  One of the founding team behind Commerce One in Silicon Valley, helping them become the top stock on the NASDAQ (ecommerce) and to a $22bn valuation, he said:  “Four years ago and, I don't think Wales will mind me saying that, a lot of the companies I met had a bit of a chip on their shoulder. That's changed. Recently I was a judge for Innovation Point’s Digital Dozen and was really impressed with the attitudes and quality on the whole. I went to a meet-up in Cardiff and again was impressed.  

“I have been fortunate to spend some time with companies such as University Cribs, Careercake and others and the energy and determination is impressive.  And that's why I am actively investing in Wales. They have some gems and the rest of the UK are following the sheep and, I suspect in some cases, missing out on these gems.”

University Cribs - the online platform for student property rental - is set to announce the completion of its seed funding round, bringing £450,000 in new investment to support the technology platform at the event.  In a quest to emulate this success, the 11 other start-ups and scale-ups on Innovation Point’s Digital Dozen accelerator will have the opportunity at the event to pitch their ideas and innovations to investors on a stage set in a cinema. 

Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, will welcome festival-goers this morning as anticipation builds for a day including keynotes on ‘how to build a billion-dollar app’ from entrepreneur and Chief Product Officer at headline sponsor GoCompare George Berkowski and techUK president Jaqueline de Rojas on how cities across the country can help establish the UK as a global tech leader post-Brexit.

Mr Skates said: “Businesses in Wales are undoubtedly at the forefront of the tech revolution. The investments being made into start-ups; the growing companies choosing to locate in Wales; and the thriving established sector are creating a new and rich environment that allows our economy in Wales and beyond to prosper. The Welsh Compound Semiconductor Cluster is the first cluster of its kind in the world, developing the technology that will shape the way we live our lives tomorrow. The cyber security solutions developed in Wales have an international reputation and help safeguard our citizens and businesses; and the technology being developed in Wales is changing the way we bank, shop and access vital services.

“Digital festival is celebrating everything Wales has to offer the technological revolution, and it’s great to see industry leaders, start-ups, and everyday tech lovers come to the Welsh capital for the event.”

Today’s schedule also includes insight into how tech helped Wales beat Belgium and reach the Euro 2016 semi-finals; Jonny Voon from Innovate UK discussing ‘the future of technology’.  The GoCompare Boat hosts a workshop this morning on robotics, law, and the future of artificial intelligence (AI) in the legal sector, while this afternoon sees Emma Titmus of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) welcomed aboard for a session on accessing finance for future growth. 

The Boat will sail to Penarth marina this evening, where Chris Griffiths of OpenGenius – the first Welsh company to be accepted on to LSE’s prestigious ELITE program – will live stream a talk from the LSE headquarters in London. Tomorrow, Inma Martinez will deliver a talk on the future of Smart Cities while the Codez Academy teaches delegates the basics of computer coding.

David Warrender, the Chief Executive at Innovation Point, the digital innovation company organising the event on behalf of Welsh Government, said: “Every year Lonely Planet releases its list of the top ten hottest travel tips for the next 12 months.  If there was an equivalent for the tech world- the insider tips on the places to start, grow or invest in a digital business- I’m convinced that Wales would be sitting pretty top of the perch.  And it’s not just me.  The Digital event is bringing some of the world’s most disruptive thinkers and doers to our doorstep.  They don’t do that for the air miles. 

“Something’s happening here in the Welsh tech scene, from enabling Apple’s latest bit of kit to do what it does right through to investment announcements from our Digital Dozen.  With smart start-ups scaling up, it won’t be long before Wales has its first unicorn company.  Maybe then it won’t just be the insiders who tip our tech scene for great things.”

Registration for Digital is still open and free, with a full agenda available here: digital-festival.co.uk



Thank you to our sponsors and partners: Go Compare , Wales Cymru , Innovation Point , London Stock Exchange , Cardiff Council , Tech UK , Tramshed Tech , Blurrt , Nucleus Expo , Open Genius & Tec Marina , Edtech UK , Digital Catapult , National Coding Week , Mango hr Group , PA Consulting Group , Sanderson , Accenture , Lexon ,  Microsoft, OneCom, Hodge Bank

Travel times to Digital from:

·  London Paddington – 2 hours 7 minutes

·  Reading – 1 hour 35 minutes

·  Swindon – 1 hour 6 minutes

·  Bristol Parkway – 43 minutes

·  Bristol Temple Meads – 46 minutes

·  Bath Spa – 1 hour 21 minutes

About Digital – two day event - 18 and 19 September at Tramshed and Tramshed Tech

Digital (digital-festival.co.uk), organised by Innovation Point on behalf of Welsh Government, is a two-day event for industry, innovators and investors. The event is a dynamic mix of interactive workshops, round table discussions, pitches, expos, networking and street food and is attended by the movers, shakers, doers, and makers of the tech industry.

Each year, the event attracts a global audience of individuals and organisations that come together to push boundaries in business and drive innovation. The key themes of this year’s event are The Internet of Things (IoT), Security, Smart Cities, Talent, and Investors.

The event is being organised by Wales’ digital innovation company, Innovation Point, on behalf of Welsh Government.

Delegates can use #DigitalFest on Twitter to share stories and track happenings from the event.

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18 - 19 Sept 2017
Tramshed Tech, Cardiff
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