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FinTech Wales completes first foundry accelerator programme

Sarah Williams-Gardner, CEO of FinTech Wales

The inaugural FinTech Wales Foundry accelerator, created in partnership with Admiral Pioneer, Principality Building Society and Cardiff Capital Region, has now completed its 2021 programme.

The Foundry accelerator concluded at its Demonstration Day event at Tramshed Tech.

Highlights from this year’s programme include:

  • Eight companies accelerated, and now have a combined market size of £2.5 billion
  • 12 new senior roles have been created in Wales, with 20 hires during Foundry program
  • The cohort has generated a £9 million fundraising pipeline with venture capitalists and angels

Featuring a cohort of eight companies – Wagonex, Zing Cover, Sero, Yimba, Voltric, ShipShape, Laytrip and Viaduct – the 12 week, non-funded programme took founders and their teams on a ‘whistlestop tour’ of the Welsh FinTech ecosystem. Through this, the cohort were connected with 42 supporting companies and organisations and more than 100 seasoned mentors from business, venture capital, academia and the public sector.

(Back row, L-R) Matt Nunney, Robert Dowd, Ella Hastings, Daniel Sawko, Toby Kernon, James Williams, Andrew Sutton, (Middle row) Sarah Williams Gardener, Johnny Mayo, (Front Row, L-R), Brent Oldfield, Rob Korzinek, Jonathan Allen, Cerys Williams, Julian Mensah

Over the course of the programme, the companies in the inaugural cohort, which were selected from more than 150 applicants across 27 countries, have participated in a meet and greet with Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen MP, a private pitching event with regional investors, and attended over 30 bespoke workshops from the likes of EY, Microsoft, IBM, Confused.com, Stripe, Capital Law and the Welsh Government, designed to support the ventures in their business development, marketing and fundraising.

Under the banner of ‘Scale In Wales’ the FinTech Wales Foundry negotiated in excess of £400,000 of credits that can be spent by the cohort to help reduce the cost of critical cloud software products such as Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services. Founders of the companies have also benefited from additional support from mentors, including the use of free office space at locations around Wales and office hours from multiple legal experts and technology specialists.

In total, the FinTech Wales Foundry facilitated 132 introductions to various key stakeholders in the fintech ecosystem and helped to elevate the status of the companies in the cohort, resulting in two closing their fundraising rounds and others securing possible business agreements of various sizes during the course of the programme.

Half the cohort companies have announced expansion plans with new jobs opening over the next few months as they continue to explore multiple commercial opportunities with various Foundry partners.

Sarah Williams-Gardener, CEO of FinTech Wales, said: “With Cardiff having recently been highlighted as an emerging cluster in the UK Strategic Fintech Review led by Ron Kalifa. Fintech Wales through our first Accelerator programme are delighted to to showcase these amazing Fintech’s all of which are embracing Open Banking, driving innovation and demonstrating the strength of the cluster here in Wales. We will build on this inaugural programme as we drive to establish Wales as a globally recognised Fintech Hub of excellence.

Foundry partner Iain Mansfield, Chief Operating Officer at Principality Building Society said: “We’re proud to be a founding member of the Fintech Wales Foundry and it’s been great to be involved with the first cohort, seeing them progress and continue to grow their companies and thinking. The Fintech ecosystem is growing rapidly here in Wales, with Fintech Wales and the Foundry at the centre of this. We’re excited to see more Fintechs start and scale in Wales, working with them and learning from them as we embrace digital at the heart of our business. Having selected Sero into the programme, we’ve worked with them over the past three months, understanding how we can support our members to reduce the carbon footprint of their homes. We look forward to seeing this partnership develop. 

Foundry partner Ellie Marsh, Insight Lead at Admiral Pioneer said: “It’s been a great first year with the FinTech Wales foundry. We’ve had the privilege of getting to know and working with some amazing start-ups and it really feels like we’ve kickstarted the FinTech ecosystem in Wales. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with the companies we’ve sponsored into the programme and cannot wait for next year where I’m sure we’ll continue to grow the start-up ecosystem here and work with even more exciting start-ups.

Foundry partner Simon Lavin, Project Manager at Cardiff Capital Region said: “CCR is committed to helping grow and develop the strengths and potential of the FinTech cluster in the region. We are working closely with FinTech Wales to better understand the challenges and opportunities for all stakeholders involved. One such area emerging very clearly is the need to create an attractive and enabling environment for our bright, smart, and ambitious entrepreneurs, and indeed those from outside the region wishing to locate here. We want to enable them to take their brilliant, and oftentimes seemingly crazy ideas and ambitions,  and with their drive and some support , turn them into flourishing viable and innovative businesses. Our joint aspiration is to make CCR ’the“ place for these exciting people with their exciting dreams to succeed. The Foundry Accelerator has been invaluable in demonstrating in practice what we believed through our engagement with the industry was the right thing to do. With the right motivation, support and leadership together and an appetite to push through challenges success is there for the seizing. Not only have we proved to ourselves as a collective the realisation of the possible, equally as important we have learned lessons. These lessons will be baked into our continuous improvement approach. We have great ambitions for FinTech, this is just another step towards realising them.