Showcasing the Best of Welsh Business

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Has Manufacturing Lost its Shine in Wales?

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A recent survey talked about 2016 being a challenging year for UK manufacturers with nearly one in two companies surveyed saying there were more risks than opportunities ahead. Just under one in four companies believed there were more opportunities ahead than risks.

Whilst there are certainly signs of challenging global conditions ahead, a number of manufacturers and technology driven organisations here in Wales believe there has never been a better time to grow and make your mark with products and services produced locally.

One such company is Anglesey-based FAUN Trackway whose team developed a “pop-up helipad” that can be set up almost anywhere within minutes.

Used in locations where access for disaster relief and military operations is often difficult, the Helipad Multi-Role Packaging Solution has been specifically designed to meet the needs of the United Nations.

Chris Kendall, Chief Executive Officer, said:

“This standalone, custom-fitted container which holds all the equipment and tools necessary for military, humanitarian and relief personnel to build a helicopter landing mat and then support helicopter operations is the only one of its kind in the world.

“Personnel controlling these operations will be able to use the container as a safe, cool, dry area from which to work, with secure storage areas for equipment and paperwork and power for lighting and electrical appliances.

“We have already had interest from the US Navy as well as the UN for its disaster relief operations and we are delighted that this will help us cement our position as a leading manufacturer in Wales capable of generating well paid local jobs in a range of skills and professions.”

FAUN Trackway currently employs 27 people at its headquarters in Llangefni, including engineers, sales, marketing, finance and purchasing professionals.

The firm believes in supporting local suppliers with more than 23 Welsh suppliers used for  purchasing decals, steel fabrications, fixings, fastenings and consumables.

Another company that believes passionately in fostering local supply chains and collaboration is St Mellons-based IQE.

The company, which manufactures compound semiconductors used to power everything from smart phones to cars, is behind the first semiconductor cluster in Wales.

Dr Drew Nelson, Chief Executive Officer, said:

“Compound Semiconductors already penetrate many aspects of our lives and provide the enabling technologies for hundreds of applications.

“The advanced technologies developed and produced here in Wales will play an increasingly important role in new and emerging applications from healthcare devices to electric vehicles and aerospace technologies.”

IQE has a vision for creating a technology cluster in Wales similar to those that already exist in Europe around centres such as Dresden (Germany), Leuvan (Belgium), Grenoble (France) and Eidhoven (the Netherlands). The UK and Wales in particular have a key strength in next generation semiconductor capabilities that will be a key enabling technology in new and emerging applications across a wide range of sectors including healthcare, autonomous and electric vehicles, the Internet of Things (IoT) and a host of other 21st century technologies that will transform the way we live, work and play just as the silicon revolution has changed our lives over the last fifty years.

For electronics and software design business, Blackwood Embedded Solutions, 2016 is definitely a year that started with strong growth projections on the back of improved efficiency and innovation.

The Caerphilly-based company which was set up in 2008, has collaborated with a number of major medical and electronics devices manufacturers to design and test products used in everything from keyhole surgery to inventory control.

Anthony Giles, Managing Director, said:

“Our ethos as a design business is to continually add value and bring products to market in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible.

“As a business we are very process-driven and hands-on thus helping to ensure our customers are able to meets stringent industry regulatory approvals as well achieve a CE marking.”

Over the past seven years Blackwood Embedded Solutions has also been involved in the design and development of drug delivery systems, surgical generators and diagnostic medical products as well as electronic design services including schematic capture, circuit simulation, PCB layout and hand-built engineering prototypes.

The company has received interest from a number of global organisations and passed its second ISO 9001 external audit with no non-conformances for the second year running. This will enable

Blackwood Embedded Solutions to continue its plans for further job creation and more than double its turnover.

Pencoed-based Wales Interactive is a Welsh development and design company which has seen its business flourish with interest flooding in from around the globe.

The company recently launched the first ever PlayStation4 and Xbox One video game to be made in entirely in Wales.

Known as Infinity Runner, the game is a first person action/running game which also supports the latest Virtual Reality headset technology (Oculus Rift).

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As this article appears, Wales Interactive has just released its latest creation – Soul Axiom which has already been nominated for an award in the US.

Commenting on their achievements, David Banner, Managing Director, said:

“The last three years has seen us transform from a two man operation making Apps to a 14 strong team making original video games for all the latest high-end gaming consoles.

“We have become a cutting edge company that is successfully using emerging digital technologies to build a successful business in Wales.

“The ability to publish direct to these platforms gives us access to a potential global audience of 200 million users and adopting the strategy to be a developer-publisher has been instrumental in our success.

“As we are the publisher as well as the developer 70% of all net receipts form global sales comes for our titles comes directly to us. In 2016 we predict our turnover to be in excess of £2 million.”