Never mind Brexit, the two Welsh cities of Swansea and Cardiff are putting their tech credentials on the table.
Our Celtic cousins in Wales are experiencing something of a tech jobs boom, with 103 new digital start-ups adding to the 117,470 tech workers in Swansea and Cardiff in the past year.
Recent arrivals include AI start-up Amplyfi, which received a £400,000 unsecured loan from the Welsh government.
‘Last year, £4.6bn (68pc) of the UK’s tech investment was spent in regions outside the capital’
– RUTH JACOBS
The traditional coal and steel industries of Wales were once the bedrock of the Welsh economy.
But now, according to Ruth Jacobs, managing director of Randstad business solutions, Cardiff and Swansea are two of the UK’s fastest-growing tech cities, due to investment in both graduate opportunities and the digital transformation of the country as a whole.
Digital investment in the UK’s tech industry was estimated at £6.8bn in 2016.
Putting the valleys in Silicon Valley
In a recent review of Swansea and Cardiff by Randstad, it was noted that the investment in the region has a symbiotic relationship with the education sector, with input from four major universities: Cardiff University, the University of South Wales, Cardiff Metropolitan University and Swansea University.
Jacobs said the universities provide a steady flow of IT-literate graduates to support the growing industry requirements. Swansea University was ranked 16th in the UK for graduate employment in the recent Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
The digital staff requirements in the tech sector are growing overall across the UK, adding to the existing 1.64m tech jobs. Swansea and Cardiff are on track to becoming the leading tech employees, rivalling nearby Bristol.
“Last year, £4.6bn (68pc) of the UK’s tech investment was spent in regions outside the capital,” Jacobs said.
“Cardiff and Swansea have 17,470 tech jobs, and last year recorded 103 new tech and digital start-ups, such as Amplyfi, using artificial intelligence for data mining.”
In terms of infrastructure, broadband connectivity across Wales is being bolstered as part of a Welsh government scheme to ensure ‘super-fast’ broadband, which will support investments not only in the cities but also across the south-east region.
Development Bank of Wales is planning to support Welsh businesses with £1bn funding and unique investment projects such as the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult in Cardiff, launched in 2016. This investment aims to fund innovative regional projects.
On the strength of the Swansea University IT programme, Swansea Bay City Region has secured a £500m deal to turn the area into a digital super-hub. In terms of start-ups, TechHub Swansea provides office space for tech entrepreneurs with networking and lunch-and-learn events as part of the working landscape.
Cardiff has similar innovation support, with Tramshed Tech supporting its co-working community. Additionally, the ease of booking desk space at the Indycube tech hub, available across Wales, nurtures the community.
“Swansea and Cardiff have great road and rail links to both London and Bristol,” Jacobs said.
“Swansea is three hours by train from London, and Cardiff just over two hours. As a lifestyle choice, both cities are a 30-minute drive from areas of outstanding national beauty like the Gower Peninsula and the Brecon Beacons.
“The house prices are also under the UK average, at £185,639,” she added.