Why Cardiff is the next big city on the UK tech start-up scene

As well as world-class sports, top universities, and thriving culture, we can add “innovative”, “tech-savvy”, and “great investment support” to Cardiff’s selling points, says Alys Carlton, Partner in our Corporate team.

Business growth in Cardiff has seen a lot of hype lately, particularly because of its array of amazing start-ups. These have not just caught the attention of those in the industry, but have the potential to make real, impactful changes on a global scale.

Cardiff start-up Amplyfi, which uses AI to harvest information and data from the entire web and turn it into business intelligence, has forecasted turnover of £50m by 2021. Considering it was only launched in 2015, this is incredible. And it’s not the only Cardiff start-up making waves. DevOpsGroup is transforming the IT departments of some huge organisations with its software, WeBuildBots is assisting clients with their chatbot solutions quicker than we can type a question, and Doopoll’s engaging platform has changed the way organisations deliver polls.

Just last week, The Sunday Times published an article drawing attention to these Welsh businesses and how they could be on track to be the country’s first unicorn. Achieving unicorn status is no mean feat (there’s only 279 in the entire world), so the fact that people are talking about the first to emerge from Wales is a huge compliment to the strength and stability of the Cardiff start-up sector.

National coverage of these successes affirms the opportunities here, in addition to inspiring future local talent. And, as we’ve been lucky enough to be part of all these market-leading companies’ journeys, we’ve seen the potential and achievements in Cardiff first hand.

The 2018 Wales Start-Up Awards are just around the corner. The talent on show will confirm that the likes of Amplyfi are just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve been one of this year’s judges,  and I’ve seen every application. The calibre of these start-ups is incredible, and the competition is huge. We’ve had a very tough job, but it’s been a real privilege to have met businesses which I have no doubt are set for success.

Traditionally, cities like London, Manchester, Edinburgh, and Bristol have been the obvious UK locations for a tech start-up to base itself. But, the availability of funding within Wales is a key reason for these new start-ups to now choose Cardiff as their HQ. Development Bank of Wales alone has invested over £600m in Welsh businesses since 2001. Private equity firms are also starting to cotton on to this trend – becoming more present in the market over the last 18 months, with both LDC and BGF opening offices in Cardiff. We hope and expect more funds to follow suit.

The success of existing businesses will hopefully act as a catalyst for the sector’s continued growth in Cardiff and the rest of Wales. If you would like to know more about the local market and potential investment opportunities, please get in touch.