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Challenges and Opportunities for Wales on the Global Stage

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Fourteen world class Welsh business leaders gather to discuss challenges and opportunities for Wales on the global stage

Last week fourteen Welsh business leaders and Founding Patrons of GlobalWelsh, located in Wales and internationally, met virtually to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing Wales and the global Welsh diaspora at a critical moment in the world economy. The meeting also gathered input to the objectives of GlobalWelsh for the coming year. This second GlobalWelsh Founding Patrons’ forum follows the inaugural forum held at Principality Building Society’s offices in Cardiff in February 2019.

GlobalWelsh Founding Patrons in attendance were: Warren East (CEO of Rolls-Royce), David Stevens (former CEO of Admiral Group plc), Andrew Williams, (CEO of Halma plc), Heath Davies (CEO, Exclaimer Group), David Wright, (Shareholder and global CEO, HRA Pharma), David Buttress, (Non-exec Chairman, of Dragons Rugby and Partner & Partner, 83North), Mike Powell (Chairman of two low cost airlines and CEO of Laytrip), Phil Buck, (Chairman, Sunnybarn Investments), Lyndon Faulkner (Executive Chairman of Pelican Products), Martyn Philips, (Private Equity Chairman & investor and former CEO, Welsh Rugby Union), Blue Stag, represented by Dan Sargent, (Creative Director), Odgers Berndtson, represented by Jemma Terry (Managing Partner, Wales), Development Bank of Wales, represented by Michael Owen (Group Investment Director), the Welsh Rugby Union, represented by Steve Phillips (CEO).

The overarching theme of the discussion was how GlobalWelsh and its Founding Patrons can collectively play a role in helping Wales recover from the pandemic in conjunction with other stakeholders.

Other key themes arising from the forum were:

Investment in Wales and Welsh business:

  • There is a strong appetite for investment in Welsh companies – both start-ups and scale-ups. This is supported by the initial findings of a GlobalWelsh report into Diaspora Direct Investment (DDI) conducted late last year.
  • Perception of a funding gap in Wales for scale-up businesses which could be preventing the growth of these companies and threat of possible relocation to other regions to acquire growth funds.
  • The point was raised that 2020 was a strong year for private equity investing in the UK and 2021 is likely to follow suit. Wales needs to position itself in order to attract its share of the funds available.

The future of Welsh talent:

  • Support for young people and entrepreneurs in Wales will be key to economic recovery and future well-being in Wales. International networking and mentoring can play a significant role in enhancing opportunities for individuals and businesses to reach potential.
  • Relocation and returning diaspora, resulting from the pandemic and changing ways of working, offers an opportunity to mobilise talent from other parts of the world but is also a threat to Wales’ current talent pool.

Wales on the international stage:

  • The need for Wales to establish itself as a global leader in key industries where it has particular strengths or potential. Those discussed included: advanced manufacturing, cyber security; software; fintech, medtech and life sciences; environmental sciences/green technology; creative services.
  • Wales has excelled and has an advantage in the online healthcare and education space, brought about by the pandemic. This is an opportunity that could be leveraged post-COVID.

Since launching in 2017, GlobalWelsh has established itself as a significant global diaspora organisation and earlier this month announced a partnership with the Welsh Government to extend support to Welsh entrepreneurs and businesses with international trade ambitions and to develop new diaspora-led inward investment opportunities for Wales.

GlobalWelsh is focused on connecting Wales to its diaspora globally and facilitating the creation of new connections and opportunities for its members around the world. GlobalWelsh Connect, its online community platform, has grown membership by almost 90% since launching last March, and offers unique opportunities to connect and gain support from the network around the world.  Welsh people, Welsh diaspora and those with an affinity to Wales can join for free here.