The Cardiff Capital Region has an ambitious agenda to forge a prosperous future based on the building blocks of Innovation, Sustainability, Inclusion and Connectivity.
In this first of a new series of fortnightly regional roundups, we look at the key developments driving inspirational transformations – from the phenomenally fast start made by our tech companies in 2022 and the launch of Net Zero Industry Wales by the Welsh Government …. to ELITE Supported Employment Agency’s evolution helping disabled and disadvantaged people into work … and the Institute for Compound Semiconductors’ pioneering Chip Transformation Programme being partnered by Cardiff University ….
CCR a hotbed of innovation as UK Tech Ecosystem reaches $1 trillion valuation
The tech industries of Cardiff Capital Region have made a fast start to 2022, as an increasingly important part of the wider UK tech sector which last week reached $1 trillion in value – Britain becoming only the third country in the world to ever reach this landmark valuation.
Cardiff is in the top 10 cities in the UK when it comes to tech investment so far in 2022, with £7.4m of investment already raised according to the figures calculated by Dealroom and analysed for the UK’s Digital Economy Council. In particular, our region’s traditional strength in fintech has continued to boom, with the private markets technology company Delio recently raising £6.1m in growth funding.
Alongside the mammoth tech investment coming into CCR, the high demand for digital skills in non-digital sectors is another driver of success – with that demand seeing average advertised salaries rise from £41,505 in 2020 to £49,612 in 2021, an increase of 19.5%.
Last week’s figures follow a bumper 2021 for Wales as a whole, with start-ups in the country raising £39 million in one year, including 13 venture capital rounds taking place in Cardiff last year. Cardiff is also home to one of the UK’s 13 decacorns (privately-held firms that exceed a $10 billion valuation) in Admiral Group – and one futurecorn (a high-growth tech company predicted to be worth $1 billion in valuation in the next few years) in the form of fintech platform Sonovate, which provides finance and tech solutions to recruitment agencies and other businesses to engage contractors and freelancers.
This growth is only set to continue. Research by DCMS published last year found that the Welsh digital sector has the potential to grow by at least £400 million in annual GVA by 2025, creating an additional 11,300 jobs.
Net Zero Industry Wales launches to help decarbonise across our region
A new body, Net Zero Industry Wales, is being established to support decarbonisation of Welsh industry and create thousands of new jobs in the green industries of the future.
South Wales’ industrial heritage within the steel, oil, gas and chemicals sectors means that our region’s businesses are responsible for nearly 20% of the UK’s overall industrial and business carbon emissions – with the majority of Welsh industrial and business carbon emissions directly attributed to companies along the M4 corridor.
Net Zero Industry Wales will work with a group of 40 business and academic partners operating within a wide range of energy-intensive industries to help them achieve net zero – a target that demands an average annual reduction in Welsh emissions of 1.3 million tonnes of CO2e from 2018 levels.
The new Welsh Government-backed body will have a number of short to medium-term priorities, including:
- Enabling industry to explore new economic growth opportunities by becoming a world-leader in low-carbon manufacturing – playing to the existing strengths of our region;
- Supporting future development of a Circular Economy in Wales;
- Stimulating and anchoring new investments to create and retain high-skilled jobs;
- Engaging with stakeholders to support public and private investment.
The creation of Net Zero Industry Wales will help maximise the potential for stakeholder engagement, industrial participation, the drawdown of relevant UK Government funding – as well as ensuring activities align to Welsh Government policy priorities.
The Welsh Government will support the new body with £150,000 invested each year for the next three financial years.
To further help Wales achieve net zero, the Welsh Government will later this year publish its Net Zero Skills Action Plan, setting out support for businesses to develop a green, skilled workforce.
Disability Charity ELITE creating inclusive digital futures thanks to Barclays support
Llantrisant-based ELITE Supported Employment Agency is one of 250 UK charities to be awarded a £100k donation from Barclays – enabling them to continue supporting disabled and disadvantaged people seeking or maintaining post-pandemic employment.
The award is part of Barclays’ 100×100 UK COVID-19 Community Relief Programme to support COVID-19 relief work in local communities – focusing on supporting UK charity partners who are meeting the immediate needs of people in our communities, including low income families, those facing financial hardship, isolated elderly people and key workers.
ELITE Supported Employment Agency supports disabled and disadvantaged people to access, obtain and maintain employment, through a range of activities aimed at helping them gain confidence, skills and independence. During the pandemic, all face to face activities had to be stopped, disrupting the vital services needed by more than 500 disabled and disadvantaged people who look to ELITE to help them pursue their vocational aspirations and employment ambitions.
For a number of months, all of ELITE’s activities had to be delivered through online sessions – presenting a very real challenge as not everyone had access to equipment, or the knowledge of how to access video conferencing software such as Facebook or Zoom.
The support of this vital Barclays fund will allow ELITE to continue an immensely valuable service – virtually – as well as helping people develop the skills to use this increasingly ‘must-have’ technology, supporting them in their vocational aspirations for training, volunteering and paid employment.
Cardiff University’s Institute for Compound Semiconductors joins £6.1m Chip Transformation Programme
Compound Semiconductors is one of CCR’s key priority sectors – and CSconnected, the world’s first compound semiconductor cluster, is leading the way in creating connectivity: powering the technologies at the heart of modern life, from smartphones to satellite navigation systems.
Last week brought news of another key collaboration in this pioneering cluster, with the announcement that Researchers from Cardiff University’s Institute for Compound Semiconductors will be working on a £6.1m UKRI-EPSRC programme to transform the way data is sensed, transferred between and processed on silicon chips.
Working with colleagues from Cambridge, UCL and Southampton Universities, the scientists are aiming to create circuits where quantum dot laser sources are integrated on a single piece of silicon.
This Quantum Dots on Silicon (QUDOS) programme is further enhancing the internet’s optical cables that link up the world, by investigating new ways of integrating all the parts that are needed for high capacity optical communications and signal processing on a microchip.
Creating these systems requires the mechanical alignment of components to accuracies of less than a micron – about one hundredth of the diameter of a human hair – a costly and labour-intensive process.
The team have invented technologies to integrate the required components on silicon chips, making possible the first data interconnects, switches and sensors.
“We are proud to be a partner in the QUDOS project – another critical step in the evolution of Compound Semiconductor science, developing the next generation of key enabling technology and building a UK manufacturing strength.
“QUDOS has evolved from our work on the EPSRC Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing Hub and will align our activities across CSconnected – a £43M flagship project to develop the world’s first Compound Semiconductor cluster, fully supported by the UKRI’s Strength In Places Fund.”
To discover more about the investments and projects driving innovation, sustainability, inclusion and connectivity across Southeast Wales, go to: www.cardiffcapitalregion.wales