Tech in Wales: The June 2017 roundup


Nic Fearn, editor at Tech Dragons, rounds up the most prominent news to emerge from the Welsh tech sector throughout the month of June.

From a major funding round for a Cardiff proptech firm to a Welsh language commitment from EE, here’s what happened last month in Welsh technology.

EE promotes Welsh language

It’s always great to see companies promoting the Welsh language, and telecom giant EE happens to be one of them. The firm has begun offering Welsh language customer service through its call centre and shops in Wales.

EE is looking to target more than 562,000 native Welsh speakers and to support the Welsh Government’s efforts to promote the everyday use of the language.

As of last month, customers are able to request support from the company’s Welsh customer service team via text or its official website. Physical stores will also have fluent Welsh-speaking staff on hand.

The company also has plans to implement bilingual signs in its stores and enhance mobile speeds across the country.  In early 2016, EE’s 4G network covered 40% of Wales. This will grow to 90% by the end of 2017.

Marc Allera, CEO of EE, said in a statement: “We’re working to provide our customers with the best 4G coverage and customer service in Wales.

“That’s why we’re boosting our 4G network across the country, and we’re proud to be the first mobile operator to provide the option to speak to us in Welsh, whether requesting a call back from the outstanding team in Merthyr Tydfil or visiting us in many of our retail stores across Wales.”

Funding win for PropTech

In June, Cardiff-based property technology startup Properr closed a £850,000 funding round to help it launch a platform aimed at transforming the way people buy homes.

Finance Wales, one of the UK’s largest regional investment companies, led the round along with additional private investment.

Track My Move, the company’s flagship product, is being targeted at customers, estate agents and solicitors – making buying and selling homes more transparent.

The firm said it has aspirations to transform the entire home buying process and slash the standard home purchase transaction time from an average of 10 weeks to two days.

The platform is offered as a one-stop-dashboard and helps consumers reduce the stress of buying and selling a home by providing relevant information online and in one place.

Founded by Owen Derbyshire and Steve Talbot, the firm has already signed up a range of estate agents from across Wales, ahead of its national roll-out.

Commenting on the funding win, Derbyshire said: “Track My Move is a big leap forward in transparency and accountability for all concerned.

“This round of funding allows us to continue our exponential growth to meet the needs of our rapidly growing client base.

“We’re working with partners and regulatory bodies to ensure the platform works for all parties and meets everyone’s needs from offer through to completion and post-completion.”

Celebrating Welsh tech

June also saw the gala night of the ESTNet Wales Technology Awards take place in Cardiff’s Millennium Centre. It celebrated the success of the Welsh technology industry .

More than 370 members and guests of the ESTNet, which is the official network for Welsh technology, attended the event. Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns was also there.

Sponsored by Sony UK, it praised the contributions made by over 3,000 businesses and 40,000 people who are driving the Welsh tech industry.

Successful finalists included Cardiff University’s National Software Academy; James Smith, CEO of DevOpsGuys; Alina Griestaragiene, senior device engineer at Infineon Technologies Newport Ltd; Wealthify; Wales Interactive; and Ysgol Cae Top.

Speaking at the Wales Technology Awards, Mr Cairns said: “Innovation helps drive the UK economy forward. Not only can it revolutionise the way we live our lives, it can bring real opportunities for businesses to tap into and grow.

“Innovate UK is the UK Government’s innovation agency working with people, companies and partner organisations to help them do just that.

“I applaud the achievements of the winners and all the nominees of these awards.  I hope your success will inspire the innovators of the future to unleash their own ideas and deliver exciting opportunities across Wales, the UK and the world.”

Academic given MBE

Wendy Sadler, a Cardiff-based academic who runs a social enterprise aimed at inspiring the next generation of scientists, was awarded with an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

She launched Science Made Simple in 2002 and has spent the last fifteen years getting youngsters interested in science. Sadler was also recognised for supporting young women in STEM.

The social enterprise currently employs 17 people in Cardiff and works with primary and secondary schools to develop interactive experiences to inspire future scientists, engineers and mathematicians.

Although based in the UK, it’s worked in more than 30 countries across the world – breathing life into STEM subjects for thousands of young people.

Wendy moved from Wombourne, near Wolverhampton, to Wales in 1991 to study physics and music at Cardiff University. She then began a career at Cardiff Bay science discovery centre Techniquest.

Speaking of the MBE, Sadler said: “When I got the letter I was speechless. It is a huge honour to be recognised for years of hard work; promoting the importance of science-based learning that is entertaining and engaging for young people.

Connected tech firm unveils new product

Abercynon-based technology firm MyLiveGuard unveiled a new connected solution that lets people control their hotel environments using mobile tech.

The product allows guests to check in, turn on the TV remotely, and set the and set the temperature of their rooms. It makes use of existing televisions or entertainment set-up boxes.

The company recently received a six-figure equity investment sum from the Wales Technology Seed Fund, which provides early-growth and startup technology firms with investment.

Miles Woodhouse, managing director of the firm, said in a statement: “We’re really excited to be able to utilise our technology in this way.

“We offer a white label product, which integrates seamlessly with existing android devices – like set top boxes and smart TVs.

“Through an app on your phone you can automate and control a number of features in your room, from lighting through to air conditioning and heating.”

Sarah Smith, investment executive at Finance Wales, said: “This is a brilliant and innovative product which really taps into a growing, tech-savvy marketplace.

“There’s already been a lot of interest in this new service and we’re really pleased to be able to support Miles and the team as their company grows.”