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Top Women in Welsh Technology to be Announced At Digital Festival

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The first ever Top Women in Welsh Technology – an awards ceremony crowning the women driving the digital industry in Wales – will be announced today at Digital Festival.  With just 15% of the people working in STEM roles across the UK female and only 5% of leadership positions in the tech industry held by women, Innovation Point, organisers of the festival, believe sharing the stories of female’s leading the way will inspire others to follow.

Following a public nomination process, judges have chosen from hundreds of women from across Wales and across sectors including females who’ve founded companies working worldwide, saving lives, creating careers, innovating and boosting the economy.

The announcement comes as over 2,000 delegates are expected at the sixth annual Digital Festival- organised by Innovation Point in partnership with Welsh Government- across the next two days to hear tech leaders from Silicon Valley, Paris, London, Africa, India, Berlin, Brussels and Barcelona tackle tomorrow’s big issues taking in mega-trends like AI, VR, IoT, GDPR, blockchain and big data, looking at how they affect day-to-day lives as we live, work and play.

One of these inspirational women is Dr Elin Haf Davies, who has close to twenty years’ experience working to develop new and emerging drug treatments for rare diseases in children. Based on her experience, and the need to improve the drug development pathway, Elin co-founded aparito, a digital health company providing remote patient monitoring in real time from their base in Bala.

Elin said:

“In health tech only 11% of people at the top are women, which is disproportionate to the fact that women are more likely to be care givers or need care during pregnancy and motherhood. A lot needs to be done, therefore. Bringing women together to share ideas and to support each other is one of the best way to start addressing this. It is a huge honour to be shortlisted and I’m grateful to the Digital Festival for specifically highlighting women in the tech industry.”

After being made redundant from her teaching career, Gemma Hallett, from Beddau, near Pontypridd, used her pay-out to self-fund miFuture. The app brings opportunities to the hands of young people meaning they can find and apply for jobs, courses, and volunteering in a swipe. Following a successful pilot, she is now to taking her app nationwide with a clear mission of ‘mobilising generation Z towards employability and prosperity’.

Gemma said:

“Initially I envisaged the solution to be yet another website with a range of functions, but it turned out that is exactly what young people didn’t want. I’ve facilitated conversations with over 2000 Gen Z’ers and our developers, a conversation and approach that had not been done before. The result is an app that brings personalised career matches right into the hand and world of Gen Z, to engage and create a decision in that crucial 10 second engagement window. I’ve been working in this space for the past three years and have recently seen a real shift and momentum in support for women in the digital world, not only celebrating successes of those who have ‘made it’ but championing us who are in the early stages. The ecosystem is the strongest I’ve seen it and women with influence are empowering and supporting others, this has been evident in the lead up to this Digital Festival and long may it continue. We know that the environment must build on this and support those who are coming with and behind us.”

The Top Women in Welsh Technology also includes: Aimee Bateman, CEO and founder, Careercake.com; Gemma Hallet, Founder, miFuture; Rachel Clacher, co-founder, Moneypenny; Victoria Norman, CEO and Founder, Signum Health; Dr Debbie Garside, CEO GeoLang creator of the Ascema Platform for Data Loss Prevention; Sarah Edwards, Managing Director, Capital Networks Solutions Limited; Lisa Matthews-Jones, Portfolio Manager, Arts Council of Wales; Hannah Dee, Senior Lecturer, Computer Science, Aberystwyth University; and Kirsty Williams, co-founder, DashHound.

Monday and Tuesday sees an exciting mix of interactive workshops, panels and keynotes for delegates to learn from and find their future in tomorrow’s digital world.  Highlights include Jackson Hull from fintech leaders GoCompare giving a keynote on AI and Machine Learning and how this will form the future of fintech; David Rowan, the founding editor-in-chief of Wired on how Wales can take its place among the world’s most innovative locations; Anne Boden, the CEO and founder of Starling Bank giving a keynote on the barriers to women reaching leading roles; Keith Teare, executive chair of Accelerated Digital Ventures and a Silicon Valley investor, will be sharing success and horror stories from the world of investing in and funding innovation; Scot Gardner, CEO, and Paul King, Chief Security Officer, both of Cisco UK & Ireland, will be addressing the latest security threats; and Ken Skates AM, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport and Julie James AM, Leader of the House and Chief Whip will address delegates from stage.

The newly appointed UK Government Regional FinTech Envoy for Wales Richard Theo, co-founder and CEO of Wealthify, will speak about his new role and Wales’ burgeoning FinTech scene.  His remit from HM Treasury will help drive further growth of the estimated £8.5bn Welsh FinTech sector, preserving the U.K.’s edge in FinTech.

An Emerging Tech Zone will house innovations in disruptive technology for festival goers to experience.  Inventions on display include AR driven advertising and the VR keeping children safe on railway crossings. University of South Wales’ Centre of Excellence in Mobile and Emerging Technologies (CEMET) is will bring other VR and AR products and services to the zone, including advances in eye sight testing and Evoke Educations’ ‘Moe the Monkey’ who can help improve knowledge retention skills.

Headline sponsor GoCompare is also on the hunt for tech talent in Wales, and will launch their GoFurther Academy, an initiative that will recruit candidates to join its paid Data Science Internship, starting in June, while their Start up Challenge offers fresh businesses a big opportunity.

CEO of Innovation Point, David Warrender, said:

“As this month’s Tech Nation report shows, Wales is a place where disruptive solutions to today’s challenges are emerging, offering not just economic impact but making the world a better place in which to live, work and play.  Digital Festival is that scene in a petri dish- two days of sparking ideas and putting tomorrow’s tech leaders in touch with those who have been there and done it, as well as giving a platform to the incredible women who can too often go unheralded in this sector.  Each year new and brilliant things emerge and 2018 will be no different.  Tech Nation talks about how we’re close to Wales’ first ever unicorn.  Digital Festival is the place to come and find them.’’

Jackson Hull, chief operating and technology officer at headline sponsor GoCompare, said:

“We’re excited to offer a unique opportunity for start-ups and talented individuals to get hands on, world class mentoring to help develop their ideas and business.

“The winner of the GoCompare ‘Start Up Challenge’ will win mentoring from Lee Griffin, President and Founder of GoCompare. Lee has a wealth of experience as both an entrepreneur and Welsh business leader, and is one of the most knowledgeable people in the country when it comes to growing a tech business from a start up to a national brand.”

Economy Secretary Ken Skates, said:

“I am pleased to attend the sixth Digital Wales Festival  which provides us with an excellent opportunity to consider the many  economic and societal possibilities technology provides.

“There is no doubt that our  future prosperity will be defined by how we take advantage of the opportunities presented by digital technologies. This is something that is right of the heart of my  Economic Action Plan, and  from now any businesses seeking Welsh Government support will need  to consider and demonstrate how they can future proof themselves.”

Highlights from the rest of the festival can be found here.