Startups across Wales, including members at Welsh ICE, are being given the chance to access more than £25,000 each of software, storage and data management, with funding designed to accelerate business growth.
In line with Welsh Government’s Economic Action Plan, online retail giant Amazon is offering access to its Amazon Web Services (AWS) to startups located in the five regional enterprise hubs across Wales, in a bid to foster faster growth and capitalise on the nation’s emerging tech sector.
The news comes after figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that the tech sector in Wales was creating new jobs at a higher rate than anywhere else in the UK, and entrepreneur network, Tech Nation listed Wales as one of the future hotspots for digital and financial technology companies.
As well as access to a myriad of software development tools, businesses will be able to make use of the AWS cloud storage and web applications, allowing them to store, process and manage all their data securely from anywhere.
Cloud-based tools and storage provide a realistic opportunity to scale quickly. For example, without virtual support, a business would need to spend thousands of pounds to buy and install physical servers and hardware, which would also take up office space. Though cloud technology a startup can remain lean, investing in its future through stock and staff rather than hardware.
Wayne Phillips at AWS said the support was a vote of confidence in the growing startup scene in Wales: “When you consider that most of Wales has a superfast broadband infrastructure comparable to the best of the rest of the UK, there is a huge opportunity for businesses to capitalise on the lower living and working costs in Wales.
“Through Cloud computing, a business in Caerphilly can have access to the same level of processing, storage, software and connectivity as an enterprise based in London, but at less than half the cost. That is going to provide them with a huge advantage and speaks to why Wales has one of the fastest-growing tech sectors in the last ten years.
“That’s something that we at Amazon strive to be a part of, and by supporting the growth of early-stage businesses, we can help build the economic capacity in Wales, and hopefully help them to grow their customer base as these companies expand.”
Ken Skates, Minister for Economy and Transport, said: “The tech sector which is thriving here in Wales is made up of some of the most innovative and highly regarded companies in the world. It is also home to an exciting raft of new start-ups that form part of the dynamic Welsh economy.
“This exciting partnership with Amazon will provide businesses in our five regional enterprise hubs with cutting-edge, cost-effective software solutions to take their businesses to the next level.
“Our Economic Action Plan sets out our strategy for strengthening our economic landscape, and this deal with Amazon is a great endorsement of that vision. I am also confident it will further serve to highlight the growing tech sector we have worked hard to nurture here, and I look forward to seeing it supercharge Wales’ global reputation in the field.”
Welsh ICE is the largest of five regional hubs, whose members will benefit from the funding. Campus Director, Jamie McGowan said:
“For more than six years we have supported businesses from a range of sectors, providing them with all the office space, infrastructure mentorship and guidance they need to grow. However, something we haven’t been able to offer, until now, is access to a suite of software development tools, web applications and all the data storage, security and management a founder could need.
“We’re excited to see the difference this funding will make to our members and are looking forward to the opportunities that partnerships such as this can bring.”
The AWS support follows collaboration between the Welsh Government and UK Government teams and will help Welsh SMEs bid for UK Government contracts. Over £4 million has been invested from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government in the new Enterprise Hubs in Wrexham, Hwb Menter @ M-SParc, Gaerwen; Focus Newtown Enterprise Hub, Newtown; Welsh ICE, Caerphilly; and Focus Carmarthen Enterprise Hub, Carmarthen.