Tech in Wales: The April 2017 roundup

Nic Fearn, editor at Tech Dragons, rounds up the top tech Welsh news from the month of April. 

April may have been period of relaxation and multiple bank holidays, but it proved to be a lucrative month for Wales’ growing technology industry.

Here’s our roundup of the top Welsh tech news stories from April.

£10m turnover

Circle IT, which provides technology services to organisations around the UK, announced an annual turnover of £10m.

The Cardiff-based firm has seen a 375 % growth over the past few years, thanks to a range of lucrative contracts and B2B clients.

It’s worked with the likes of the National Museum for Wales, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff & Vale College, Rhondda Housing Association, Cowbridge Comprehensive School and Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC).

As well as this, the company has begun working with the University of Dundee, Harrison Clark Rickerby’s and UKTV, which is the home of the Dave and Gold television channels.

Roger Harry, CEO of Circle IT, said: “We’ve had a fantastic year. Not only have we grown the business considerably using a pool of local talent.

“We’ve continued to cement our position as one of the leading technology businesses with some key wins in great sectors including education, law and media.

“I am incredibly proud of how successful the business has become and it is testament to the collective talent and hard work of our colleagues.”

Digital skills workshop

In a bid to help young people get into work, the Codez Academy and Tramshed Tech formed a partnership with the Prince’s Trust.

12 youngsters took part in the Get into Digital Skills employability programme, which was set up to help youngsters develop STEM skills and find jobs in the lucrative technology industry.

It lasted for three weeks and provided participants with hands-on training to help them develop digital skills and explore opportunities in the tech sector.

During the course, the young people created a fully-functioning website with the assistance of the Codez Academy, a training company based at Tramshed Tech. They wrote the code, developed the content and created a digital marketing campaign.

Dean Jenkins, managing director of the Codez Academy, said his company’s aim is to close the skills gap in the Welsh tech sector. “At Codez, we are committed to helping people develop the right skills to ensure that Wales is able to compete in digital industries,” he said.

“I was so impressed by the young people on this latest course with The Prince’s Trust. What they achieved in a matter of weeks just shows what we can do if we put our mind to something.”

New cybersecurity centre

April seemed to be a big month for collaborative partnerships in the Welsh tech scene. Cardiff University and Airbus teamed up to launch a centre to research and prevent cyber attacks.

The new centre, which was unveiled last month, is to research the growing problem of cybercrime and how it affects corporate organisations.

Set to be named the Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Analytics, the facility will be located at Cardiff University’s School of Computer Science & Informatics and become a key part of the UK’s cyber security landscape.

It’ll bring together specialists from Airbus and leading cyber security researchers. They’ll carry out studies into areas such as machine learning, data analytics and artificial intelligence.

Dr Pete Burnap, director of the centre of excellence for cyber security analytics, said: “Cyber security analytics is about improving our resilience to cyber-attacks through data modelling to detect and block malicious behaviour before it causes its full impact.”

Dr Kevin Jones, head of cyber security innovation at Airbus, added: “Collaborating with leading Universities such as Cardiff to research and develop sophisticated machine learning and data analytics for attack detection is a key approach in the future protection of critical systems.”

Tech education boost

In another boost for education in Wales, the Welsh Government unveiled a project aimed at inspiring the next generation of digital entrepreneurs.

The Barefoot Computing project, which already runs in England, was set up to help primary school teachers inspire pupils aged five and above about the lucrative world of technology.

It’s being funded and led by BT, although the company has been working with the Welsh Government to ensure that the project is aligned with the Digital Competence Framework.

Kirsty Williams, the Welsh education minister, recently visited Cadoxton Primary School in Barry to get a glimpse into how the project works in practice. She also unveiled new online resources for teachers.

She said: “Since becoming Education Secretary, one of my key priorities has been to raise the aspirations for all our children and young people, broadening horizons and developing ambition so that all can achieve.

“The DCF is an important milestone in achieving this goal as it provides the fundamental skills our children need in the modern world.

“I am therefore delighted to launch these free-to-use, creative resources which perfectly illustrate how digital skills can be integrated into the Welsh curriculum.”