Hundreds of innovative start-ups and entrepreneurs descended on Cardiff last Friday to attend the third consecutive Wales Startup Awards.
Founded by Professor Dylan Jones-Evans and Liz Brookes, the awards took place at contemporary events space the Depot and celebrated the young businesses putting Wales on the map.
This year’s event was sponsored by the likes of DevOpsGroup, Capital Law, Welsh ICE, Bluegg, HSBC UK, Swansea University, Principality, the Welsh Government and Grapevine Events Management.
James Smith, CEO of DevOpsGroup, said: “The Wales Startup Awards is a really interesting event. It’s refreshing as an awards ceremony because it’s not the traditional black-tie, corporate occasion you’d expect, and reflects start-up culture well.
“The ceremony was set in a contemporary space surrounded by street-food vendors and people from different backgrounds. And even though there were a number of awards on offer, the tempo of the awards was just right – with both finalists and winners being truly recognised and celebrated.”
While the Wales Startup Awards recognises a diverse range of industries, it was packed with technology companies and entrepreneurs.
Artificial intelligence firm We Build Bots was named the Technology Startup of the Year, with finalists including Four Minutes, Credas, Sport Injury Fix and Hut Six Security.
Meanwhile, web harvesting platform Amplyfi scooped up the Innovation of the Year gong. The shortlisted firms for this category were Credas, Hut Six Security, Paperclip, Surple and Simply Do Ideas.
DevOpsGroup sponsored the Digital and Creative Start-up of the Year award, which went to immersive video production studio Cinemerse.
Smith commended the start-up, saying: “Cinemerse is a truly well-founded company, and the result, although a tough call, was a unanimous decision among the judges.
“It not only came down to the depth of the services offered by the company, but also the inspirational story of the founders. They’re really passionate and driven by what they do.”
Speaking about DevOpsGroup’s motivation for sponsoring the category, he added: “As previous winners, we wanted to give something back and acknowledge the great businesses making waves in this exciting sector
“One of the key things about the award is that it recognises innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, whether the companies are backed by technology or not. It really shows the company’s or founder’s ambition to disrupt their market, and we saw this throughout the evening.”
“We are thrilled to be recognised for our hard work, passion and stamina in building CineMerse. Building our business has been the hardest and most rewarding experience to date. We have met so many incredible people and clients, broadened our horizons, challenged ourselves and exceeded our own expectations on what we can deliver.
“Our business is founded on a passion for film and bringing cinematic, immersive content into how we tell the amazing stories of our clients. Thanks to the amazing work of the Wales Start Up Awards, more and more businesses are recognised for their resilience, drive and focus, and this is something to be celebrated in Wales!”
Smith believes that the technology ecosystem in Wales is at an exciting stage. He commented: “We have a lot of great companies rising through the Welsh start-up scene and demonstrating some innovative ideas. The amount of support for start-ups is getting stronger every day, and the talent within the sector is phenomenal.”
Professor Dylan Jones-Evans said the country is witnessing a renaissance in creativity, innovation and technology that’s being driven by entrepreneurs.
He said: “In many respects, the future prosperity of this nation is in their hands rather than, as we have seen in the past, large multinational businesses that are encouraged to relocate here.”
“For the last three years, the Wales Start-Up awards have demonstrated not only the local impact that these new ventures have but, more importantly, have showcased businesses that will have a global impact. And that, for a small nation such as Wales, is an incredible story.”