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Cardiff – city which is producing contenders to be crowned Wales’ first tech unicorn

We’re seeing Cardiff produce some worthy contenders to become Wales’ first tech unicorn thanks to its supportive culture.

October 11, 2018

JLL is immensely proud to have partnered with Tech Nation to launch its annual research report, Tech Nation 2018, in Leeds.

We’re seeing Cardiff produce some worthy contenders to become Wales’ first tech unicorn – start-ups valued over $1 billion – thanks to its supportive culture.

Cardiff offers the investment and networking opportunities needed to nurture a growing digital economy. It is these supportive ecosystems that are allowing start-ups to thrive and we have seen 90 new tech firms begin since 2016.

Emerging from the city’s tech scene are success stories including online investment firm, Wealthify, IT consultants DevOpsGuys, and AMPLYFI, an artificial intelligence start-up.

The Welsh capital’s digital economy is dominated by start-ups and it is crucial these businesses find the investment they need to prosper and we’re seeing plenty of evidence this is happening in Cardiff.

Offers such as the Development Bank of Wales, which was set up by the Welsh Government to support the country’s economy, are a welcome boost, according to the Tech Nation report. While centres of learning, including Cardiff University, are producing the talent the industry needs.

Mix the Welsh Government’s support with entrepreneurial networks like Cardiff Start, which are helping to put the city’s innovative talent on the map and highlight investment opportunities, and this all creates an attractive place to do business.

Cardiff’s digital scene is dominated by start-ups and in 2017 the sector was worth £641 million. There’s every indication that this will grow further and the city could see its first tech unicorn – a term for start-up tech companies valued over $1 billion – sooner rather than later.

These small start-up companies need co-working offices, which offer flexible leases and adaptable spaces that allow them to quickly scale. Examples in and around the Cardiff area include Rabble Studio, Tramshed Tech, Welsh ICE and Hwyl Hub and there’s a need to continue to develop the quality workspaces and digital infrastructure these firms need to pave the way for continued growth.

According to the 2018 Tech Nation survey, completed by over 3,400 members of the country's tech community, the city’s helpful digital networks are a key strength in a city which is home to so many young businesses.

Those surveyed also praised tech firms’ ability to access funding and Cardiff’s appealing lifestyle, which helps attract workers. However, they highlighted a need to find more skilled talent and offer extra direct long-haul flights to North America and Asia to help Welsh exporters.

This article was written by Rhydian Morris, JLL Director - Office Agency