Later this year, the fourth annual Wales Start-Up Awards will take place at the Depot in Cardiff to give new Welsh businesses the opportunity to showcase their successes and demonstrate their contribution to job creation, creativity and innovation in the economy.
As the only regional awards in the UK to focus on start-up firms, they are unique in that only new businesses launched within the last three years are eligible to enter. More relevantly, the eighteen awards cover the full spectrum of business sectors that are important to the Welsh economy including food and drink, manufacturing and engineering, social enterprise, digital and creative industries.
In addition, three new awards have been introduced this year that will highlight the growing importance of universities to entrepreneurial economy as well as two specific awards to recognise the impact of new ventures within two quite different parts of Wales.
The graduate start-up of the year, supported by Universities Wales, is focused on celebrating new businesses emerging from the Welsh university sector. The rural start-up business of the year is sponsored by business support specialist Business in Focus (which has recently established two enterprise hubs in Carmarthen and Newtown) whilst the fastest growing firm in Wales, ALS of Caerphilly, is backing the Valleys Start-Up of the Year award.
The awards cannot come at a better time as Wales has recently experienced an increase in the number of start-ups between 2016 and 2017, with a growth rate of 17 per cent as compared to a decline of eight per cent across the UK as whole. Indeed, Wales was one of only three regions and nations in the UK, along with North West England (13 per cent) and Northern Ireland (16 per cent), where the numbers of new business births went up.
The growth potential of new businesses in Wales is best epitomised by the 2018 Welsh Start-Up of the Year namely Freight Logistics Solutions (FLS). Based in Cwmbran, this supply chain management company specialising in the logistics sector has grown to a turnover of over £8 million in less than three years.
Since 2016, the Wales Start-Up awards have demonstrated that Wales has many excellent businesses that are being created and grown by inspiring entrepreneurs that are making a difference both within their local communities and wider afield.
However, it is important that their achievements are celebrated so that they can act as role models for others to follow in their footsteps. By highlighting their success, the Welsh economy can build on their examples of entrepreneurial ambition to create the right environment in which they can thrive and, as a result, we can continue to grow the numbers of new businesses established every year.
To enter the Wales Start-Up Awards, go to www.walesstartupawards.com