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Finalists announced for Wales Start Up Awards 2020

Winners of the Wales Startup Awards 2019 at the Depot, Cardiff. Credit: Matthew Horwood

Now in their fifth year, they are exclusive to Welsh companies that have launched within the last three years and provide a unique opportunity to recognise and celebrate the achievements of those new businesses that are making the greatest impact on the Welsh economy. 

Having received a record 540 entries – with 40 per cent coming from female-owned firms – a total of 108 finalists have been selected across twenty six categories covering all sectors in Wales.

Professor Dylan Jones-Evans, Assistant Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of South wales and the creator of the awards back in 2016, was surprised but delighted at the enthusiasm demonstrated by the high number of entries into this year’s competition during the worst economic crisis ever.

“I would have expected that the Covid-19 pandemic would have resulted in fewer applications this year but the entrepreneurial community across Wales has surprised all of us. More importantly, this year’s competition was not only about quantity but the quality of entries which made the job of the judges very difficult in shortlisting this year.

With new firms creating the majority of jobs as countries emerge out of recession, this year’s finalists, along with thousands of other start-up businesses across Wales, will be critical in ensuring that the Welsh economy recovers quickly over the next twelve months. Certainly, I am looking forward to celebrating the enterprise, creativity and sheer hard work of all those that have made the 2020 shortlist later this year.” 

Pictured: John Buchanan of Aber Falls – winner of Welsh Startup of the Year. Credit: Matthew Horwood

The awards are sponsored by actors from all parts of the Welsh entrepreneurial ecosystem – finance, government, entrepreneurs, corporates and universities. They include Capital Law, Nat West Bank, Abel and Imray, Bluegg, Business in Focus, Business News Wales, the Celtic Manor Resort, CEMET, CP Hire, the Development Bank of Wales, Fintech Wales, Freight Logistics Systems, Mazuma, North Wales Ambition Board, South Wales Chamber of Commerce, Town Square Spaces, the University of South Wales, Welsh Council for Voluntary Action, the Welsh Government, Wolfberry and Zip World.

Chris Coughlan, senior associate of the overall sponsor Capital Law said: “The unprecedented number of applications which we received this year, all of a very high-calibre, is testament to the talent and resourcefulness of Welsh entrepreneurs. It was inspiring to read about the progress achieved by so many start-ups, despite the challenges brought by Covid-19. At Capital, we’re passionate about developing and maintaining a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem in Wales. This year’s applications leave me in no doubt that this support network will help us come out of this crisis even stronger.”

A new category for 2020 – Rising Stars – recognises those new start-ups set up in the last 12 months that could be the growth businesses of the future. Sponsored by Town Square Spaces, this special award has shortlisted ten firms from all over Wales that the judges considered to have potential for further growth.

Gareth Jones, founder of Town Square, said “This new award highlights the nascent entrepreneurial talent that exists in every part of Wales and I look forward to following the progress of this list of start-ups over the next year as the economy recovers from the current recession”.

The 2020 Wales Startup Awards shortlist is as follows:

Business to business services start-up of the year

Cardiff start-up of the year

Construction start-up of the year

Consumer services start-up of the year

Creative start-up of the year

Cyber start-up of the year

Digital start-up of the year

Equity-backed start-up of the year

Financial and professional services start-up of the year

Fintech start-up of the year

Food/ drink start-up of the year

Global start-up of the year

Graduate start-up of the year

Green start-up of the year

Innovative Start-Up of the Year

Manufacturing start-up of the year

Medtech start-up of the year

Mobile and Emerging Technologies start-up of the year

North Wales start-up of the year

Retail start-up of the year

Rural start-up of the year

Social enterprise start-up of the year

Tourism start-up of the year

Valleys start-up of the year

Young entrepreneur of the year

Rising Stars