Wales Start Up Awards

The Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE) thinktank recently published their 2019 Business Start-Up index dataset which was produced using the Companies House register of live UK limited companies. 

According to the index, a record 681,704 new business formations took place across the UK in 2019, a 2.8% increase on the previous year. 

With the growth of tech firms being a particular focus for policymakers, it is worth noting that over 45,000 tech startups were launched across the UK in 2019, representing 6.6% of all new businesses. Not surprisingly, 17,401 of these were registered in London with other hotspots being Bournemouth, Brighton, Winchester and Cambridge.

In Wales, there were 17,758 new businesses created in 2019 (or 2.6% of the UK total) which represented an increase of only 0.4% on the previous year and the lowest growth of any part of the UK apart from the North West of England. Of these, 4.3% were tech start-ups with the highest proportion to be found along the M4 corridor in Monmouthshire, the Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff and Newport.

In terms of the number of startups per head of population, Wales had 5.6 new firms per head of population as compared to 10.3 for the UK as a whole, with the lowest concentration in the rural counties of Powys, Anglesey and Ceredigion. 

By sector, the most popular sectors in Wales for new startups in 2019 were varied and included business support service activities, letting and operating of own or leased real estate, freight transport by road, management consultancy activities and take-away food shops/mobile food stands.

Whilst there is still more to be done to increase the number of new businesses across Wales, it is worth noting that over the five year period between 2015 and 2019, over 82,000 new firms were created in the Welsh economy, a growth of 21 per cent (as compared to 12 per cent for the UK as a whole).

Celebrating the contribution of new businesses was the main reason I came up with the idea for the Wales Start-Up Awards. Now in their fifth year, they remain unique in being the only business awards in the UK that focus specifically on recognising the achievements of those enterprises launched within the last three years.

Since they were established back in 2016, some incredible new businesses have been recognised at the annual Wales Start-Up awards. Last year’s winner was Aber Falls Distillery in North Wales and with a significant turnover after two years of operation, is on track to become a major brand in the UK and internationally. In addition, 2018 winner Freight Logistics Solutions was recently named as the second fastest company in Wales.

In order to make this year’s event bigger better and more relevant than ever, the number of categories at the awards is being expanded and the first ever Wales Start-Up Festival will be held on the same day so as to bring Welsh startups together to help celebrate the best of new businesses in Wales.

As the CFE Start-Up Index showed, the tech sector is growing rapidly across the nation and as a result, a number of new awards have been created that reflect some of the sectors that could make a real difference to the economy over the next few years such as cyber, fintech, med-tech and mobile technologies.

I also believe that an event that celebrates entrepreneurs should be about more than being just another business awards ceremony and that a reboot of the awards this year offers an opportunity to add real value to the those applying. 

That is why, on the same day as the awards, key stakeholders in the Welsh entrepreneurial ecosystem will be working together to hold the Wales Start-Up festival as a free event. 

This will be an opportunity for attendees to hear inspirational talks by successful entrepreneurs, attend advice clinics and workshops and showcase the best of Welsh entrepreneurship.

For the first time, we are also encouraging our sponsors to directly support those entering the awards. For example, NatWest Bank is offering a fast-track route to their digital accelerator to all finalists and Mazuma is gifting them two months free subscription to their accountancy services.

The Celtic Manor Resort, sponsor of the food and drink start-up of the year award, will be giving all shortlisted firms in their category the amazing opportunity to showcase their products at their four hotels in Newport as well as the new International Convention Centre. Imagine what a boost that will be for a new Welsh business to be given the opportunity to have their products on show in the UK’s best hotel.

Therefore, with over twenty five sponsors and supporters from across the entrepreneurship ecosystem, the 2020 Wales Start-Up Awards are focused on championing new businesses not only through celebrating their success but by working with the best to help them fulfil their potential. 

We have some incredible entrepreneurs here in Wales who have seized the opportunity to start a new business and it is a great honour to be able to celebrate their achievements every year.

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