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Tech in Wales: The November 2016 roundup

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Nicholas Fearn, editor at Tech Dragons, brings you the latest news to emerge from Wales’ burgeoning tech scene.

Christmas is just weeks away and as we near the end of 2016, this time of year is as good as any, to reflect on the great things that have happened so far.

There have certainly been a lot of milestones for Welsh tech, with November proving to be a very exciting month for the industry.

Here’s our round-up of the best tech news coming from Wales.

Expansion for AI firm

Amplyfi, a Cardiff-based startup that develops artificial intelligence technology for interpreting the deep web, has been on a roll over the past few months.

In October, it received a £400,00 loan from the Welsh government, which it will use to create 40 new jobs at its headquarters and scale its product.

Chris Ganje, co-founder and CEO of Amplyfi, said: “The Welsh government’s £400,000 loan is a great opportunity for us. We will leverage this funding to on-board some of the brilliant software engineers and programmers we’ve already met.

“This is exactly the kind of support that will continue to foster local entrepreneurship, but also attract more technology companies to Wales.”

PropTech startup shines at conference

Properr, which is an estate agency software startup based in Cardiff, was named the fifth most promising tech company at Web Summit 2016.

The conference took place in Lisbon (Portugal) at the start of the month and attracted technology professionals from all over the world.

Properr founder Owen Derbyshire and his team attended the event to take part in the Alpha program, which aimed to showcase emerging tech firms.

This also presented companies with an opportunity to meet with their peers and potential investors. Over 1,500 attended the summit, but only 50 were listed as a promising startup at the event.

Owen said: “The reception we got there was astounding, and we were barely out of investor meetings for the first 2.5 days. Our stand was packed at all times, helped by the fact we made it on to that list, I suppose.”

“For us, the week has helped us validate what we have always believed. There’s a huge opportunity that lies within PropTech, and I think the business model we’ve got makes for an interesting proposition.

“Investors from around the world are now really looking at the space, so it’s an exciting time for us, and I’m excited to see what the future has to offer,” he added.

Funding success for ICE startups

November was also a successful month for four tech startups based at Welsh ICE, a co-working community based in Caerphilly. They raised a respectable £671,000 in funding between them.

These early-stage businesses, which are part of a strong business support network at ICE, raised the investment in a bid to develop their products and bring them to market.

ProfitSourcery, a market intelligence SaaS technology firm, is one of the companies to receive funding. In total, it raised just over £70,000 from four private investors. Its product makes it easier for retailers to sell on Amazon.

Ed Brooks, founder of ProfitSourcery, said: “This investment means that we continue on track for our new product launch in February which we are all rather excited about.

“It’s also important to point out that we met most of our investors through being situated at ICE – the network of people here is pretty extensive and I can only see that growing as more businesses join the community,” added the founder.

Gareth Jones, CEO of Welsh ICE, said: “The announcements form part of efforts from the organisation to drive a spirit of ambition amongst small business in Wales.

“This is in a bid for the region to be recognised alongside the Northern Powerhouse or Shoreditch as having the right conditions to grow a successful business,” concluded Jones.

Triple growth for software firm

TestLodge, a company that develops software testing technology for enterprises, announced a major growth milestone. Within two years, the company has tripled its revenue.

Between 2014 and 2016, the company saw a 233% increase in its turnover. Launched in 2013, it created a tool that lets project managers document and test products within one easy-to-use system.

Scott Sherwood, managing director of TestLodge, said: “By its nature, our software has to be agile with the ability to quickly adapt to user demand.

“Given the complexity of software testing our customers regularly comment on the need for responsiveness, with every delay in testing potentially having a knock-on effect on workload.

“By making consumer feedback a core facet of our business, we are meeting the demand for a modern and fluid testing platform, which is being reflected in the rate of our sign-ups.”

Cardiff named affordable tech hub

According to a report released at the beginning of November, Cardiff has become one of the most sustainable places to work in tech in the UK.

Conducted by Indeed, the world’s largest job listing site, it assessed the affordability of seven of the UK’s fastest growing tech cities. Salaries were compared against living costs.

London is the UK’s most expensive city to run a tech business or work as a tech professional, with the average salary at £51,070 and a flat costing £400,000.

Cardiff, which was recently named the fastest-growing digital industry after London, proved to be one of the more affordable locations in the report. Professionals can earn around £40,000, and a decent flat would cost £134,000.

Terence Chiu, VP of product at Indeed, said: “It is increasingly competitive for companies to find the technical talent they need as companies ramp up their demand for these professionals.

“Employers who use Prime will find talent that they wouldn’t normally see through traditional university recruiting, staffing agencies and job postings.”

“Our data shows this is a jobseeker’s market, with huge demand for tech talent and simply not enough of the right candidates to fill those open roles,” noted Chiu.

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