AN innovative new scheme delivering affordable office space and free business support to home workers and start-up companies in rural areas has been launched.
Led by Antur Cymru Enterprise, the DeskSpace initiative is being piloted at Antur Teifi Business Park in Newcastle Emlyn, providing a platform for post-pandemic recovery and a well-timed boost for the economy in north Carmarthenshire.
The long-term vision is to roll the concept out across small towns and villages in Wales, helping entrepreneurs who launched a venture during the pandemic – or those who want to move from the kitchen table or spare room to a high-quality office space – the chance to do so in a warm, welcoming environment.
Those signing-up will have access to a free parking, IT support, fast and secure internet, photocopier and scanning services, coffee and tea-making facilities, and guidance from Business Wales representatives on site.
Desks are available for as little as £10 per day and ‘Go Workstations’ are also an option.
Bronwen Raine, Managing Director of Antur Cymru, says this is a great opportunity to help grow small and start-up firms with the knowledge that experts and mentors will be on hand to provide pivotal guidance and advice should they need it.
“Importantly, this is more than just a ‘space’ for them to develop, it’s the perfect setting to test their ideas, network, collaborate and grow their business in a safe and sustainable way,” said Bronwen.
“We will be trialling it in Newcastle Emlyn and then other rural areas where the major issues are around broadband provision and slow internet speeds, travel time, fuel costs and administrative services unavailable in more hard-to-reach towns and villages.
“There are so many innovative and exciting new start-ups and entrepreneurs in this region who just need a foundation to build on, so hopefully DeskSpace can provide that and resolve some of these problems.”
A report released by Aberystwyth University last year found the Covid-19 pandemic had further exposed the divide between rural and urban areas of Wales, notably inequalities in broadband speeds, unemployment and healthcare and housing.
“Antur Cymru Enterprise is working hard to remove these barriers and provide solutions that will help to boost the rural economy and turn the green shoots of recovery into sustainable growth,” added Bronwen.
“By targeting small businesses, we can make a positive impact in our communities and hopefully give them the confidence to move forward with our support.
“DeskSpace is just one of the projects we are unveiling in 2022; the growth of industry in rural locations is paramount as we bounce back from the challenges of the Coronavirus, and we are focused on delivering further projects like this in the months and years ahead.”