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Why the Unleash Event was the Day for the SMEs of CCR

Cardiff Capital Region celebrated the businesses of South East Wales at the inaugural Unleash 2023 Business Conference last month – a new destination event geared to showcasing the latest thinking on how enterprises in our Region can unleash their ambition and achieve sustainable ‘good growth’.

The Unleash conference brings together the business figures and political leaders of our Region, to hear at first hand how enterprises across the UK (and the world) are embracing best practices in critical areas such as AI, cyber security, investment, inclusivity, creative thinking, talent attraction, tech adoption, and collaboration with academia.

Cardiff Capital Region spoke with Suzanne Chesterton, CCR’s Head of Marketing  & Communications, before the event about her vision for Unleash – and how the event at the iconic ICC near Newport knits together so many threads of the CCR journey to date …

Building a sustainable, high-performing SME economy

“The economy of South East Wales is driven by small and medium sized enterprises” explains Suzanne “and we need each and every one of those businesses to be the best they can be – enjoying the competitive advantage of being fully resourced and high-performing, resilient and sustainable, with future-proofed order books, responsible working practices and secure talent pipelines.

“Any business equipped with those key components will be empowered to achieve the ‘Good Growth’ that CCR so passionately stands for – and the Unleash conference has been expertly organised with that in mind by Nigel Pompeus and the rest of my Marketing & Comms team at CCR: bringing together key influencers and thought leaders, to share inspirational experiences and positive insights in the most practical way possible.

“The breadth and calibre of our speakers reflects the complexity of modern-day business – with Stephen Kelly,Chair of Tech Nation, spotlighting how Wales is undergoing a turbocharged technological transformation, Giorgia Tomasello showing how even small businesses can harness the potential of AI and machine learning, Damon Rands of PureCyber providing wisdom on how any enterprise can protect itself from cyber attack – and Eleri Gibbon of Microsoft revealing how inclusivity can be a catalyst for business success.

“It’s a day full of wide ranging knowledge share, with Chris Meadows of CSconnected highlighting the ways that collaborative clusters create business value, Rhian Elston from Development Bank Wales explaining how businesses can ‘win’ investment – and a broad range of breakouts being run by subject experts, covering everything from flexible working and international networking, to the best practices for putting in place effective cybersecurity, and how businesses can access CCR’s £50M Innovation Investment Capital fund, which is now open and being run by PwC.”

A key milestone in the evolution of CCR

“This conference has been championed with energy and foresight by Nigel Griffiths, ever since he became Chair of the CCR Business Council, and it’s testimony to both Nigel’s team – and the impressive work done by Frank Holmes and our Regional Economic Growth Partnership over the last five years – that we now have the credible foundation to host a keynote event that celebrates and supports the enterprises that are the lifeblood of our economy.

“In that longer-term perspective, Unleash is much more than just a ‘Business Conference’. It’s a key milestone on a journey that started back in 2017, when the ten local authorities of South East Wales came together for the very first time, to shape the future of a whole Region.

“To see the leaders of all ten local authorities – together with the Welsh Government Minister for the Economy and the UK Government Secretary of State for Wales – all stand shoulder to shoulder with the SMEs who are ‘making it happen’ in so many sectors, is a source of real pride.

“In so many ways, Unleash brings together all the hard work of the past five years – as well as being one of the launchpads for the next stage of our economy and CCR as a whole, as we work together to meet the challenges and embrace the opportunities of the decade ahead.”

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