Tech in Wales: The October 2018 roundup


With a 5G strategy underway and the launch of a nationwide coding initiative, there’s no denying that Wales is quickly emerging as a high-tech nation.

Here are the best Welsh tech stories from the past month.

70 young scientists pass STEM scheme

More than 70 young scientists recently passed an innovative placement scheme led by Cardiff-based STEM discovery centre Techniquest.

The students have successfully completed their Nuffield Research Placements, which provide youngsters with the opportunity to work alongside and learn from professional scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.

18-year-old Neve Forbes, from Merthyr Tydfil, was one of the young people taking place on the course. She worked with health science expert Dr Valerie Sparkes at Cardiff University in a four-week placement.

“The placement was incredibly beneficial, helping to improve my independent research skills and providing me with first-hand insight on local STEM career opportunities. It was an inspiring experience and has strengthened my ambitions to work in the scientific field,” said Neve.

Andrea Meyrick, head of education at Techniquest, said: “These placements are a great opportunity for those with scientific talent to get a taste of STEM careers. We’re delighted to have worked alongside Nuffield on this mission, and the students have all demonstrated incredible skill and dedication.”

Nationwide coding initiative launches

October saw the launch of the Institute of Coding in Wales, a programme led by Swansea University  help close the digital skills gap and create the next generation of tech professionals.

Backed by £21.2 million of funding, it’s aimed at developing technology skills programmes and boosting diversity in the Welsh technology sector.  

It consists of initiatives such as Technocamp, the National Software Academy and apprenticeship-style degree programmes at Swansea and Cardiff University.

Professor Faron Moller, who is head of the IoC in Wales, said: “With the pan-Wales Technocamps programme, and through offering apprenticeship degree programmes and essential CPD opportunities, Swansea and Cardiff Universities are well placed to address the national skills shortage in the digital economy workforce.”

Julie James AM, leader of the house with responsibility for digital, added: “Earlier this year the Welsh Government announced £1.2m to support Cardiff and Swansea Universities’ involvement in the UK-wide Institute of Coding, helping create the next generation of digital specialists.

“Having world-class digital skills is absolutely essential and I’m pleased to be at the launch today of the Institute in Wales which will be key in strengthening these skills in Wales.”

Expert 5G group launched

A new advisory group has been appointed to create a strategy for 5G infrastructure development and rollout across Wales.

Led by digital business growth agency Innovation Point, the group will prepare and shape a national 5G programme in Wales.

The group is comprised of industry experts, and Innovation Point will work in partnership with initiatives such as the Tech Valleys Strategic Valleys Plan and City and Growth Deal.

Simon Gibson CBE, who is chairing the group, said: “The potential of 5G is significant and presents a timely opportunity for Wales to improve economic performance, people’s quality of life and the connectivity of our communities.

“The creation of this specialist group has been formed to ensure Wales is able to take advantage of the benefits created by 5G and establish areas where Wales can demonstrate original thinking and capitalise upon the resulting innovations.”

Cardiff named a top cyber city

Cardiff has been highlighted as one of the UK’s leading cyber cities alongside Reading and Leads. They beat London in the  Crucial Academy’s 2018 Cyber Security City Ranking, which profiles the top British cities for cybersecurity professionals.

The list is compiled annually and analyses  factors such as salary, affordability, job availability and tech sector growth potential. Cardiff was ranked high based on affordability.

Tom Marcus, a former MI5 spy and best-selling author of Soldier Spy, worked with Crucial on this research. He said: “Cyber security is one of the most serious issues UK business faces today.

“For young people leaving education, ex-military people looking to transition to civilian life or those looking for a career change, there is no career no more Brexit-proof than cyber security.”

Neil Williams, CEO of Crucial Academy, added: “The cyber security skills gap is a growing issue across the UK. Every city in the ranking is a tech hub within its own right.

“However, it is fascinating to see which cities, based on these factors, may be more attractive to the much-needed talent pool of cyber security professionals.”

Wales’ fastest-growing tech firms named

Digital solutions specialist DMSG, SaaS provider Vizolution and high-performance IT consultancy DevOpsGroup were recognised among the fastest-growing companies in Wales.

They were honoured by the Wales Fast Growth 50, which identifies and celebrates the businesses growing the Welsh economy.

Since launching in 1999, the list has featured 528 elite companies – all of which have created 30,000 jobs and generate £15 billion for the economy annually.

James Smith, CEO and co-founder of DevOpsGroup, said: “We’re delighted to be nominated for this year’s Fast Growth 50. It’s fantastic recognition of the work the whole team has done to cement ourselves as a high-growth business.

“We’re operating in a really exciting market and have some amazing customers. I think awards like the Fast Growth 50 celebrate the achievements for the whole team.”