Tech in Wales: June 2016 roundup

castle wales june 2016

Nicholas Fearn, editor at Tech Dragons, brings you the latest technology news from Wales.

This year is proving to be a phenomenal year for Welsh tech. Not only have we seen tech ideas come to life, but we’ve also experienced firms grow to even further.

June, in particular, proved to be a month of new launches. IdeasFund, a Welsh tech accelerator, came to a close and spun out seven tech businesses.

A new crowdfunding platform for the property market also launched, along with a new awards body for young Welsh startups. What an exciting time!

Here’s our tech round-up for June.

Showcase at Google Campus

June saw several Welsh tech entrepreneurs pitch their tech ideas and businesses to seasoned industry experts and investors at Google Campus.

They were taking part in the final of Wales’s first tech accelerator, IdeasFund, which was set up by TechHub Swansea earlier this year. Seven companies pitched.

As a result of completing the program, all participants received £10K to turn their ideas into trading businesses. They’ve also received top mentorship from the likes of Just Eat founder David Buttress, New Look chief Tom Singh, entrepreneur Bev Hurley and Matt Jones of Google Creative Lab.

A number of ideas were pitches, including a mortgage comparison tool, an app for hotel management and bookings, and an interactive GP service called Go2GP.

Matt Warren, a fellow director of TechHub Swansea with Tim Morgan and Paul Harwood, said: “We set out to find amazing teams or individuals with tech ideas in Wales or prepared to base themselves here, and take them through to growth. Getting in front of investors has been a crucial part of this process.

“We are grateful to Welsh Government and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David for their support. Ideas fund has been a massive success, with the teams able to launch products and get customers within two months with limited funds.

Celebrating Welsh gaming

Last month, the BAFTA Cymru Games Awards also took place, celebrating the best Wales has to offer in gaming. The ceremony was held in Cardiff.

Games developer Rantmedia picked up the most prestigious gong of the evening: Game of the Year. This was for its popular game TV Sports Soccer.

Meanwhile, Thudmedia received three commendations for Artistic Achievement, Gameplay Design and Sound & Music for Boj Smoothies – a game designed for children. Cube Kids was presented with the Technical Achievement award for Teletubbies.

Hannah Raybould, director of BAFTA Cymru, said: “Huge congratulations to the winners of our Best Game Award and commendations this year.

“We are very proud to support the growing games industry in Wales and highlight the achievements of the increasing number of companies starting up and relocating to Wales.

“We are also pleased to host and support events in South and North Wales which bring together games, film and television practitioners with the wider creative media and cultural sector to help support the growth of the industry.”

Wales Startup Awards

There are quite a few B2B awards bodies in Wales already, but up until last month, there was nothing solely for startups and SMEs.

That all changes with the Wales Startup Awards. The organisation aims to shine a light on the amazing achievements made by young Welsh firms.

There are 14 categories in total, covering a variety of sectors in Wales. They include the creative industries, finance, food and drink, technology and professional services.

Participants will be judged by representatives from NatWest and Welsh ICE, and three businesses will be shortlisted per category. Winners will be announced in September.

Dylan Jones-Evans, chair of the awards, said: “The awards will be different to many others in Wales. For the first time ever, it will be an award ceremony that is exclusive to start-ups only – ie firms three years old or less.

“Many of the category sponsors are successful Welsh companies that were once start-ups themselves and appreciate the hard work and dedication that many entrepreneurs put in at the start of their business.

“It will also get away from the usual black tie approach to business awards and will be held in an informal setting at the award-winning Depot in Cardiff, an entrepreneurial start-up business where street food and craft beer from Welsh enterprise will be served to those attending. It should be a great night and a very different one.”

Welsh FinTech crowdfunding platform

Wales’s first FinTech crowdfunding platform launched, too. It offers fractional ownership on both residential and commercial properties.

ShareProperty wants to simplify property investment. It does this by analysing the market for lucrative investments, making them available to the public to invest in.

George Grigg, co-founder of ShareProperty, said: “People are unaware of just how many alternative investment opportunities are now out there. The technology is available and businesses are starting to really accelerate their application to relevant market sectors.

“The potential is a sophisticated, end-to-end investment, research, and management system for the property investment market in every living room in the country.

‘We also wish to streamline the practice of raising funds for SME developers. We need to refurbish properties in this country and at the moment the lending environment is not allowing the SME private sector to contribute to the structural supply/demand problem.”

Students and industry firms

Solar power tech manufacturer GCell teamed up with a group of students from the Cardiff University Software Academy to test the latest iBeacon tech.

As part of their semester two module in mobile development, the students spent time with the firm learning about how Android and Java work with beacons.

They also worked on a number of real-life projects, which involved them using beacons to bring proximity awareness to work being done in heritage, tourism and music locations.

For instance, the students worked on with Newport Museum on a potential app for the transporter Bridge and with the Western Front Association on a potential historical trail in Newport commemorating World War 1.

David Pugh, who works at GCell, said: “For GCell, we were keen to get a new eager bunch of developers familiar with and working with iBeacons. We were especially interested in how they saw beacons enhancing apps and bringing another dimension to user experience.

“Experiencing that energy and seeing the projects develop was a real pleasure. Having 25 new pairs of eyes working with a new technology and giving their feedback on the good and the bad was also important to us.

“We didn’t see it specifically as a promotion of GCell or a marketing opportunity – that was very much secondary. We were far more interested in supporting the students and seeing them using the technology.”