Skip to content

Wales tech roundup: A fintech export deal and cyber credentials boost

Wales tech roundup Tech Nation Rising stars
Tech Nation Rising Stars Wales and South West finals. Image credit: Tech Nation

This month provided a boost to Wales’ cyber credentials, with the country becoming the first part of the UK to open a national cybersecurity operations centre. CymruSOC, led by the Welsh Government with the support of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, will aim to protect Welsh local authorities, emergency services, public sector employees and the wider population from ransomware, phishing and other online threats.

Socura, a managed detection and response company with an office in Cardiff, will run the remote service around the clock and provide intelligence on new risks to the National Cyber Security Centre based in London.

The facility is to be delivered as part of the Cyber Action Plan for Wales, which was unveiled by the Welsh Government in 2023 to bring together industry, academics, government officials, the public sector, law enforcement and other organisations to improve the cybersecurity of businesses, vital services and individuals across the nation.

The program will last for three years, with Socura currently inducting the first members. So far, 18 out of 22 Welsh local authorities have agreed to take part in the scheme. Four others opted out due to operating standalone SOC services.

Vaughn Gethin, Wales’ recently appointed first minister, said in a statement that CymruSOC will safeguard Welsh businesses and public services from increasing cyber-attacks by taking a “defend as one approach”.

Andy Kays, CEO of Socura, added that a shared SOC and its threat intelligence would provide every Welsh local authority with “the expertise and defences of a large modern enterprise organisation”.

Fintech boost

Away from cybersecurity, Penarth-based fintech company Finalrentals announced a £5m export deal that will add ten Turkish locations – including Istanbul, Ankara and Bursa – to a network of more than 500 vehicles to its online car rentals platform.

The company’s leadership team secured the deal during the travel trade show ITB Berlin with Welsh Government support. They conducted similar negotiations at trade shows in San Francisco, Singapore, Madrid and Berlin, leading to export contracts in Turks and Caicos, Bahamas and Montenegro.

These recent deals form part of Finalrentals’ ongoing international expansion plans, with the firm looking to reach 100 clients within the next year. If the Finalrentals team pulls this off, it could generate an annual growth of 200% for the ambitious startup.

Since launching in 2019, Finalrentals has expanded its platform — which allows people to find and compare local vehicle rental prices — in 36 countries throughout Europe, North Africa, America, the Caribbean and the United Arab Emirates.

“Turkey is a notoriously difficult car rental market as it’s one of the biggest and most competitive in Europe,” said Ammar Akhtar, founder and CEO at Finalrentals, in a statement. It’s not easy for an outsider to break into the market, but meeting with prospective partners at ITB Berlin allowed us to negotiate the biggest deal we’ve had to date.”

Rising Stars

Finalrentals also made it to the Wales and South West finals of Tech Nation’s Rising Stars competition, which aims to spotlight innovative pre-seed and pre-series AI Startups across the country.

But it was Configur, a software development company headquartered in Newport, that beat nine regional finalists to win the Tech Nation Rising Stars Regional Final for Wales and the South West. Hosted by Tramshed Tech and TechPSARK, the finals took place at Bristol’s Engine Shed on 1 May.

The other Welsh and South West finalists were AiSentia, Bright Evolve, EthicsAnswer (Techstars ’22), Genletics, Good With, KOKORA, Madevo and SpatialCortex.

Its regional win has earned Configur a spot in the grand final of the Tech Nation Rising Stars competition, which will take place as part of London Tech Week in June and be judged by the likes of Dragons Den’s Tej Lavani. The news follows Configur’s recent £772,000 investment round that will fuel the growth of its B2B AI solutions.

Both Configur and Finalrentals were highlighted as startups to watch in UKTN’s recent Wales tech report.

In further awards news, entries are now open for the 2024 Welsh STEM Awards and will close on 12 July. The awards aim to recognise organisations and individuals furthering STEM causes across Wales by closing skills gaps, improving diversity in the industry, inspiring future generations and fueling economic growth. Winners will be announced during an awards ceremony at Cardiff’s Mercure Holland House Hotel in October.

Although the Welsh tech industry has seen many impressive milestones in the last month, a less favourable development is Independent Advisor Broadband ranking Swansea second in its list of UK locations with the worst broadband speeds.

Just 61.4% of the city has full-fibre broadband, showing that there is plenty more to be done to provide local tech businesses with ultra-fast internet connections.

Topics