The Welsh Innovation Centre for Enterprise, Welsh ICE, has opened its next round of funding and is now inviting applications from vibrant start-ups and entrepreneurs.
Following on from an extraordinary response to the intake last November where over 60 entrepreneurs were awarded a position at ICE, the centre now looks to support the next generation of start-up businesses.
The funding is designed to give start-up businesses a structured route to sustainability, creating jobs and boosting the Welsh economy.
The support will be delivered through the centre's ICE 50, where 50 start-up businesses will receive a fully-funded package including a full-time desk, a tailored mentoring programme, creative workshops, telephone and high-speed internet access and one-to-one support for 12 months.
Mandy Weston, COO at Welsh ICE said:
“The response to our previous round of applications was phenomenal – so much so that we couldn’t cap our places at 50.
“This year we hope to have a similar level of demand, especially since we recently announced our new space on campus, the Octagon.
“We want to reach out to those who have recently started a business and are finding that working from home is not all they thought it would be. There may be many people struggling to find work such as recent graduates, or those unsure about their future after a recent redundancy. Many people leave university or employment full of ideas and enthusiasm, but perhaps lack the necessary experience or finance.
“We would encourage these budding entrepreneurs to put their business ideas on paper and apply. With the guidance and support of the ICE community, it really is possible to start and grow your own business.”
ICE is now home to over 120 entrepreneurs, across three buildings on the ICE Campus, and was recently recognised in the Senedd as having created over £13.5m value for the Welsh economy.
One business that has seen rapid growth since joining ICE is web design and branding agency, Big Lemon Creative.
Director Owen Richards said the support he received was a major boost to the agency:
“The business had launched prior to joining ICE, but we were very much stuck in a ‘working from home’ mind-set. We decided that in order to expand we were going to need an office as well as access to mentor support and a ready built network of businesses. My co-founder Kieran and I attended an event in Cardiff bay where we met ICE CEO Gareth Jones. Gareth invited us to apply for the ICE 50 and thankfully we were accepted.
“With the support of the ICE community our business has grown drastically, with 46% of our revenue in the last 12 months coming directly from connections fostered through ICE. This also includes a significant contract for some web design work with a well-known Welsh brewery.
“The future is bright at Big Lemon Creative as we are set to welcome a new employee in the next few weeks, giving us the scope to bring in new clients and further grow the business.”
A limited number of places will be available each month for the next 6 months, and businesses from all sectors and industries are welcome to apply.
The closing date for the first round of applications is October 2nd, and businesses are invited to submit their ideas to ICE through the website (www.welshice.org) or by contacting the Community Manager Jamie McGowan via email on [email protected] or you can call ICE on 02920 140 040. The submissions will then be evaluated by a panel of judges, with businesses being notified in late October.