An opinion piece by Alwen Williams, Portfolio Director for the North Wales Economic Ambition Board
Last week, I attended the Wales Start-Up Awards at the Depot in Cardiff. The event was my first live and in-person event since 2019, it was great to see familiar faces, meet new people and importantly hear about the work done by the inspiring list of winners from a very strong list of finalists. The annual awards were estabolished in 2016 to celebrate and recognise the success of start-up businesses in Wales.
This year, there really was a special feel to the awards. Coming together with hundreds of people in the same space has been an absent tool in our kitbag for business for eighteen months now. Being what I’d consider an 'old hand' at these things, I was surprised at my nervous anticipation as the evening approached.
The evening was perfectly pitched, the venue being large, open and beautifully unconventional but completely relevant setting for such an event to recognise start-up businesses. I absolutely applaud the organisers for making it a very relaxed, enjoyable and informal setting and making it easy to squash the trepidations and feel comfortable in the surroundings.
Filled with success stories and milestones, the evening was a real celebration of significant achievements and the demonstration of innovation and resilience of Welsh businesses, many of who have developed and grown through a challenging and turbulent time.
One of the particularly inspiring businesses was Beaumaris based company innDex. The company won the 'North Wales Start-Up Award' category, sponsored by the North Wales Economic Ambition Board. The company are a true inspiration and advocate for innovation in Wales and their business is already yielding fantastic results.
Founded by George Smithies and Aaron Vousden, two Welsh Civil Engineers, innDex started after identifying a gap in the construction market. Both founders recognised a knowledge and skills disconnect between construction companies and their understanding and usage of technology. Simple tasks such as health & safety, time management and tasks were challenging and consuming for construction companies as they couldn't utilise the technology available to make their work more efficient.
The company now has a combined value of £1.8 billion and have completed over 32k inductions to help construction companies with their tasks- and they aren't showing signs of stopping!
What we can learn from innDex's story is the importance and opportunities that come from digitisation and innovation. Thinking differently about how technology can streamline, enhance and futureproof and secure critical business processes. Their success shows a need for entrepreneurialism in North Wales and something as simple as identifying the opportunity and plugging a knowledge gap can be the foundation of great success in business.
With the Growth Deal avidly progressing, and capital investment plans in place for our key sectors and growth areas, it’s a great time for new and existing start-ups to establish, innovate and grow in North Wales.
Small businesses are crucial to the success of our regional and national economy and the Wales Start-Up Awards is a fantastic celebration of all of the nominated businesses. I'm already excited for next year's event!