Tech in Wales: The August 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 August.

Like most people, you’re probably thinking that summer came and went quickly. It’s now autumn, and things are pretty much back to normal. The kids are back to school, and you’re as productive as ever.

As we head into a new season, it’s always good to reflect on the things that have happened over the past few months. August is usually a quiet month for the technology, but it proved to be a honeypot for Welsh tech. Here’s your roundup of the latest techie news from Wales.

GoCompare founder mentors FinTech firm

It’s always great to see experienced entrepreneurs supporting the business minds of the future, and that’s something GoCompare co-founder Kevin Hughes has been doing.

The business titan has been mentoring FinTech startup Wealthify, having already invested an undisclosed sum in the business. It’s in process of raising £5m Series A funding to help expand the product and acquire more customers.

Founded in 2014 by Dr Richard Theo and Michelle Pearce, Wealthify is looking to revolutionise the financial world by offering an affordable and easy-to-use online investment service.

It requires no prior investment knowledge or experience, and is open to anyone. The business raised £3m when it launched in April 2016, including £1.8m from a crowdfunding campaign that was supported by more than 760 shareholders.

Richard Theo, CEO of Wealthify, said: “Our ambition is to make Wealthify a major savings and investment brand and to democratise investing by making it affordable and accessible to everyone.

“Having Kevin supporting us is a massive advantage. As a founder at GoCompare, Kevin has proven that he knows how to develop a fledgling financial services brand and make it an enormous success.”

Welsh companies showcase at Gamescom

During August, five of Wales’ fastest-growing games companies had the opportunity to showcase their products and develop business opportunities at Gamescom in Cologne.

Held annually, Gamescom is the leading European trade fair for digital gaming culture, and it brings together professionals for product launches, business development and knowledge sharing.

This year, to reflect the great strides made by Wales’ digital media sector and its potential economic impact, the Welsh Government promoted five local developers in the UK Pavilion.

They were Quantum Soup Studios; Talespinners; Toxic Games; Wales Interactive; and West Coast Software. Wales Interactive, which has attended the event before, promoted its latest VR Horror game Don’t Knock Twice.

David Banner, managing director of the company, said: “Gamescom has been crucial in helping achieve 1.5 million downloads of our games and being nominated for 65 awards.

“As we’ve also evolved into an indie publishing label, we’re looking for titles to sign with the aim of publishing them multi-platform worldwide.”

Ian Thomas, director of Talespinners, said: “We’re heading to Gamescom for the second year to meet companies who need help with stories for their game.

“Last year was excellent for us and as a result we’re now working with a number of European partners on projects, including writing for the game Raid: World War II, which features John Cleese.”

Lloyd’s to launch digital hubs in Wales

Banking giant Lloyd’s announced plans to support 100 community centres throughout the UK to help deliver digital skills training to the public – with five planned for Wales.

The centres will work with local branches to help customers understand and benefit from the opportunities available on the internet, helping to boost digital skills.

Through face-to-face training, the company wants to help more than 30,000 people across the country boost their digital literacy and make the most of online services.

The centres are unique to local communities in that they focus on delivering a range of digital and social inclusion programmes relevant to those in the area.

Training sessions will be delivered in a range of ways, including drop-in sessions, formal classroom-based education and outreach sessions led by digital specialists.

Lloyds has teamed up with the Good Things Foundation, a charity that aims to help people overcome social challenges, and wants to build a digitally inclusive society.

Allan Griffiths, Lloyds Banking Group ambassador for Wales, said: “Being able to support local communities in Wales with essential digital skills is critical to drive social mobility.

“I’m delighted that we are growing our partnership with Good Things Foundation to support the Online Centres, which will make a huge difference to people by allowing them to develop their digital skills, in their local area, in a way which best suits their needs.

“This is why Lloyds Banking Group, as part of its Helping Britain Prosper plan, has committed to provide digital skills training, including training on internet banking, for 2.5 million individuals, SMEs and charities by 2020.”

Lampeter tech firm raises six-figure investment

Perpetual V2G, which creates zero-carbon power technologies, closed a six-figure funding round and appointed a new COO to help accelerate growth.

As part of the deal, investment company Finance Wales turned its previous £500,000 loan into equity, and further funding was raised from other investors.

To coincide with this funding increase, business growth specialist Mervyn Ham joined the Lampeter-based firm as its new chief operating officer.

The company provides mobile clean energy power solutions to a range of applications and major corporations across the country, including the likes of Sainsbury’s and British Telecom.

It’s creased a lithium power supply that’s paired with bespoke power delivery solutions to help customers significantly reduce vehicle idle times with massive savings in fuel and harmful CO2 emissions.

Across the utilities and other sectors, the LPS solution replaces noisy polluting generators with silent green energy. Andy Ling, founder and CEO, said: “The opportunities for the Perpetual solution are larger than ever.

“I am delighted to have closed this funding round and equally delighted that Mervyn Ham has agreed to join the senior team. His years of experience in high growth businesses will be a major asset.”

Gadget insurer launches in Wales

A Cwmbran-based business has launched a gadget insurance website, allowing consumers to review policies and choose the best service for them to protect their electronics.

Protect Your Gadget is the brainchild of Comparison Creator, a company that specialises in insurance comparison. It provides a white-label breakdown comparison service for GoCompare, Moneysupermarket, Confused.com and Comparethemarket.

It also offers home emergency comparison services to the likes of GoCompare and Compare the Market. Protect Your Gadget is its latest product, covering the likes of accidental damage and mechanical breakdown.

Steve Jones, CEO of the firm, said: “From mobile phones and tablets, to laptops, digital cameras, games consoles, sat navs and Go Pros – we’re carrying more and more devices around with us, and understandably, we don’t want to compromise on our tech when we travel.

“But it’s important to think about insuring these gadgets and protecting ourselves from those “oh no!” moments. Protect Your Gadget provides access to all kinds of cover for nearly every kind of gadget, at a range of competitive prices from a panel of leading brands.”

That’s all for this roundup. For more Welsh tech news, visit the Wales section on UKTN and Tech Dragons.