Some of Wales’ brightest technology entrepreneurs and start-ups recently presented their innovations to the Duke of York at the Wrexham leg of Pitch@Palace On Tour.
It took place on July 11th at the Wrexham Enterprise Hub, which is a former supermarket that’s been turned into a contemporary workspace for entrepreneurs, technologists and creatives.
Founded in 2014 by Prince Andrew, Pitch@Palace is an initiative that helps entrepreneurs amplify and accelerate their business ideas by connecting them with potential investors, mentors and key business contacts.
Participants are given just three minutes to talk about their tech products and start-up journeys, before stipulating the support they need to further their businesses.
Hosted by Town Square Spaces, the Wrexham event attracted delegates from across the country – including people from business, finance, law and academia – and saw seventeen entrepreneurs deliver pitches.
They covered areas such as consumer technology, the Internet of Things, healthcare, fitness, energy and smart cities. But only three could go to the next round of the competition.
The winners were retail app NearMeNow, first aid technology company Four Minutes and digital mental health platform Psycapps, all of whom were selected by Pitch@Palace alumni and audience votes.
Each winner from the Pitch@Palace On Tour events will attend a bootcamp session where they’ll receive business support and mentoring.
Victoria Mann, founder and CEO of high-street augmented reality experience NearMeNow, hopes that the Pitch@Palace experience will open new doors for her business.
“We’re thrilled to be recognised as one of the top three among such a high calibre group of businesses and are delighted to be flying the Welsh flag when we take our proposition to London,” she said.
“Following the launch of our digital high street app in Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan in May 2018, we’ve moved into a scaling phase.
“With Pitch@Palace being such a high-profile competition focusing on social impact and making key introductions and connections, applying for it was an easy decision.
“Through Pitch@Palace, we were able to ask for introductions to high-profile high-street influencers who can endorse the app, help increase our end-user engagement and reach potential investors who share our passion for supporting local businesses.”
Opening the event, Prince Andrew said: “The purpose of Pitch@Palace is to help entrepreneurs grow and learn under pressure and move their business along.
“For Pitch, it’s important to travel the country to figure out where and what the entrepreneurial attitudes are. But we’re also looking for mentors, advisors and connections for these businesses; it’s the connections that have made the biggest difference for our entrepreneurs.”
Speaking to me, the Duke explained how Pitch@Palace reflects the fact that Britain is a powerhouse for technology, science and engineering.
“Our education system is good, and we have very a long history and legacy of creating brilliance in science and engineering,” he said.
“As a population, we create more Nobel Prize winners than any other country, so for those reasons, we’re good at it [technology, science and engineering].”
“But also, we believe in giving people the opportunity of doing things like this [STEM]. I think we’re still [the UK] one of the best places to do it [STEM].”
Supporting the economy
Gareth Jones, founder of Town Square Spaces, said the event was a big win for the local economy and business landscape.
“Its vitally important in my eyes that we create new opportunities on the high street, and for Pitch@Palace to invest in bringing this prestigious event to a market town, I think we’re doing our bit to dispel the myth that innovation only happens in big cities,” he said.
“The shortlisted three could each deliver significant impact to their industries, and we’re delighted that two of them are previous Accelerator Wales members.”
“The connections that events like this create are very powerful – we want to see this as being the level set for future events across Wales.”
Carl Turner, community manager at the Wrexham Enterprise Hub, added: “The event was a huge success with some extraordinary entrepreneurs pitching some exciting businesses. Hosting Pitch@Palace 10.0 was a real boon for the Hub, and the types of businesses that pitched were an inspiration to start-ups in the area.”