Wales

Nic Fearn, editor at Tech Dragons, brings you the latest news to emerge from the Welsh technology sector throughout the month of October.

October saw a ton of exciting announcement in the Welsh technology sector. From a financial boost for an innovative Cardiff-based EdTech startup to a milestone for a Welsh chatbot maker.

Here’s our latest round-up of tech in Wales.

Rise of Welsh bots

Artificial intelligence is taking the world by storm, and chatbots are becoming a popular tool for businesses. Cardiff-based tech startup We Build Bots is looking to capitalise on the potential here

It has launched a chatbot for Sport Wales that aims to increase participation in sport and connect teams with clubs.

Launched at the start of October, the bot is based on the Facebook Messenger platform and quizzes users about their exercise preferences.

The bot then recommends a sport to the user and helps them choose a suitable place where they can participate. They’re provided with direct contact details.

According to the company, the the bot will transform health and fitness.  Paul Shepherd, CEO and founder of We Build Bots, said: “It’s great to see Welsh Sport adopting the latest technologies in their quest to get more people active with sports.

“And as a fellow Welsh business, we’re delighted to be involved. Whilst this is a fun, light-hearted bot we hope this proves to be an invaluable asset if more people become more active as a result.”

Entrepreneurs talk FinTech

At the beginning of the month, leading Welsh FinTech firms gathered for a roundtable event hosted by award-winning startup doopoll and the Bank of England.

The event saw representatives from the Bank of England’s Agency for Wales learn about the technologies set to disrupt the financial sector.

During the roundtable, delegates addressed topics such as blockchain technology, Brexit and issues for Welsh businesses looking to attract development talent to the area.

A number of companies attended, including global digital banking platform Backbase, financial research management company Bipsync and from Wealthify, a Cardiff-based startup that recently announced a strategic investment with Aviva.

Steve Dimmick, co-founder of doopoll, said: “It was a pleasure to be able to host this event with the Bank of England. Organisations thrive when they understand what’s important to the people they care about.

“And with that in mind, it’s great to see the Bank of England in Wales engaging with the people they care about.”

Ian Derrick, Bank of England agent for Wales, added: “It was really useful to be able to meet with these FinTech companies in South Wales as part of the Bank’s work to develop connections with a range of technology firms.”

Welsh startups to generate £100m by 2020

Twelve of Wales’s most innovative, high-growth technology startups will deliver a combined turnover of over £100m by 2020, a report said in October.

From tracking humanitarian aid to driving global beauty sales, these companies are attracting attention from organisations and professionals from across the globe.

These firms form the Digital Dozen Accelerator programme, which was launched in the summer by Innovation Point to accelerate the growth of Welsh technology.

These companies are planning to employ over 300 staff by 2020 and are creating technologies designed to transform organisations and the lives of consumers worldwide.

Disberse, a fund management platform built for the global development sector, is one of them. UniversityCribs, an accommodation platform for students, is another example.

David Warrender, CEO of Innovation Point, said: “Wales is on the cusp of a digital revolution, and we believe that the Digital Dozen are a key element in the work that Innovation Point is doing to drive growth and ability right now.

“The businesses taking part in this year’s Digital Dozen accelerator programme are already demonstrating their ability to disrupt on the international stage, giving us a great story to take to potential investors and collaborators.”

He added: “We already know of a number of investors turned on to this emerging hub of technical ability, and we are beginning to see some fantastic results from last year’s Digital Dozen cohort.

“I can only encourage those investors not yet tuned into to the prospect to join us at the London Stock Exchange on the 2nd November and be a part of something quite exciting.”

Comparison giant signs digital skills charter

Cardiff-based financial services comparison website GoCompare became the 250th organisation to sign the Digital Inclusion Charter for Wales.

The charter, which was created by Digital Communities Wales, aims to get more people in Wales online and improve digital skills. GoCompare will begin with its staff and customers.

According to statistics from the 2016/2017 National Survey for Wales, 15% of Welsh adults are still not online. 

Supported by companies throughout the country, the charter promotes basic digital skills through asking organisations to sign up to six pledges – including giving all staff and volunteers the opportunity to learn about new technologies.

Digital Communities Wales, which manages the charter, is a Welsh Government project that helps people access and use the internet. It’s delivered by the Wales Co-Operative Centre.

GoCompare has joined a plethora of organisations that have already signed the charter, including BT Wales, Welsh Water, 12 local authorities, housing associations, national charities and regional support organisations.

Matthew Crummack, CEO of GoCompare, said: “We’re delighted to be involved with the Digital Communities Wales scheme. Digital inclusion is a hugely important issue throughout Wales and as one of the country’s biggest tech brands, we’re proud to support the initiative and help our community get online.

“We live in a world where people increasingly deal with their finances online. Whether it’s managing their current account, energy bills or even buying their insurance, the vast majority of people interact with their money through the internet.

“No one should be left behind just because they don’t have access to the internet and that’s why we, as a proud Welsh business, fully support the Welsh Government’s initiative for a better-connected community.”

Funding milestone for FinTech firm

Finance consortium InspireWales invested in Schoop, which is a multilingual app for schools, schools, nurseries, charities, sports clubs and community services to communicate and engage.

The company was founded by Paul Smith, who was frustrated with the lack of communication from his children’s school. So he decided to come up with a viable business solution.

It lets teachers engage families in the education of their children and lets schools save money by providing all school communications, calendars and forms in one simple app.

InspireWales has provided the business with £200,000 of investment, and it’ll also offer sales and marketing support through its highly influential investor network.

Paul Smith, founder of Schoop, said: “We have already had great reaction to Schoop and we are an integral part of many school’s relationship with parents, but the investment from InspireWales means that we can take the business to the next level. We plan to double our customer base in the next 18 months.

“The fact that investors of such high calibre are also investing in Schoop gives us the confidence to escalate our growth plans. Education is still our main customer, but the platform can also help many other private sector clients, large organisation who want to communicate with its clients or customers.

“We are already working with Arriva Trains Wales and Cardiff Bus. We are looking forward to seeing what the future holds with the mentoring and support of InspireWales.”

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