Tech

Wales celebrates tech talent: good people, creating good products, for the good of everyone

Tech Wales

Wales has always been a land of innovators, pushing the boundaries of science and technology to build a better society for future generations. Welsh minds have been responsible for such inventions as the hydrogen fuel cell, the microphone and aircraft radar. Work done by Cardiff University scientists on chemiluminescence is vital to medical analysis, and responsible for saving countless lives.

Today, some 45,000 people are actively employed within our £8.5bn digital economy, working for more than 3,500 tech organisations.

From established leaders in their fields to bright-spark start-ups, our innovators and entrepreneurs are outward looking, forward thinking and socially conscious: good people, creating good products, for the good of everyone. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine and deep learning are at the cutting edge of tech research. 

Wales has witnessed a 200% increase in demand for AI skills over the past three years. The sector’s growth has been driven both by home-grown companies and international players who have located their operations here. 

Bot-Hive, headquartered in Cardiff, is the largest online platform for robotics and automation technology in the world. Founded in 2019, the company acts as a matchmaker between robotics manufacturers and companies looking to incorporate the new technology into their processes. 

Also based in the Welsh capital, AMPLYFI harnesses the power of AI, machine learning and big-data visualisation to help businesses detect and protect against threats to their operations. Using its products, companies can harvest information that’s hidden in the deepest levels of the internet – revealing insights that are way beyond the reach of consumer search engines such as Google. These and other Welsh companies are showing how AI and robotics can improve the quality of our lives, both at work and in the home. Used wisely, they promise to be a crucial enabling technology for a more sustainable future.

Compound semiconductors at the centre of the net-zero vision

Compound semiconductors are already vital to our digitalised world. They’re buried within the devices we rely upon – including just about every smartphone – and are critical components in all kinds of tech applications, from satellite communications and fibreoptic networks to driverless cars.That’s just the beginning. By reshaping the nature of electronics across every product sector, the companies in our cluster are developing more sustainable technologies for everyday life, improving alternative energy infrastructure, making electric vehicles more efficient and bringing us ever closer to net-zero energy targets. 

South Wales is home to the world’s first compound semiconductor cluster. It’s a unique collaboration between universities, advanced research facilities and world-leading businesses that’s forging the technology to power the next industrial revolution.

Financial technology with real-life impact

Over recent years, Wales has become an acknowledged hotspot for financial technology, or fintech. It’s home to the tech giant Equiniti’s innovation centre, as well as exciting start-ups such as the personal investment platform Wealthify and customer-experience experts Vizolution. Starling and Monzo, digital banks challenging the big high-street names, both have bases in Cardiff. Innovation breeds innovation. Comparison Creator has pioneered business-to-business data comparison software, while Cardiff start-up Coincover has launched the world’s first cryptocurrency insurance. Pontypool-based Quote the Market is providing the tech behind Honcho, a reverse-auction marketplace for financial services that offers an alternative to price comparison sites.

Wales is now making a name for itself in insuretech – insurance technology. We’re home to three of the UK ‘s top five online insurance aggregators. Home-grown insurance giant Admiral is among our flagship success stories, as well as the comparison sites Moneysupermarket, Confused.com, Compare the Market and GoCompare. 

In uncertain times, sophisticated insurance solutions can help to relieve the burden of economic insecurity, saving money and offering peace of mind. The Welsh insuretech community is working to make sure everyone can access competitive, appropriate policies to protect the important things in life. 

Working together to protect critical infastructure

As with fintech, Wales supports one of Europe’s most sophisticated cyber security ecosystems. Our areas of expertise include information risk assessment and management; operational technology; Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT); identification, authentication and access control; incident response; and threat intelligence monitoring, detection and analysis. 

The South Wales Cyber Security Cluster and Cyber Wales were set up to encourage entrepreneurial and academic excellence in the field, and our research and education offerings are world-class. Swansea University’s Cyber Threats Research Centre (CYTREC) employs experts in criminology, political science, psychology and linguistics to assess online threats. 

Then there’s the Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Analytics at Cardiff University (accredited by the National Cyber Security Centre) and the National Cyber Security Academy at the University of South Wales, which works on real-world problems with industry partners including Cisco and Airbus. 

The insights and solutions delivered by this sector are vital weapons in the fight against cyber crime, helping to protect critical infrastructure, such as our power grid and the systems used by the NHS. The digital world can be a dangerous place, but Welsh expertise is making it safer.

Sky’s the limit for the Raspberry Pi

Invented by Pontypool-born Eben Upton, the tiny Raspberry Pi was conceived as a computer for the people. Its ultra-low cost has made it accessible to schools, home users and hobbyists all over the world. More than 30 million have been sold, crowning it the top-selling British-designed computer of all time.

The Pi was intended as a tool to teach the principles of computing to schoolchildren. But thanks to its versatility and value for money, it has found favour in an incredible range of applications, from home automation systems and robotics controllers to web servers and music synthesizers. 

Since 2012, the majority of the units have been made in Wales. It’s a big vote of confidence in what Upton has called the “unparalleled manufacturing standards” of its production line at the Sony UK Technology Centre near Cardiff. What’s more, commercial users now account for a big slice of the company’s sales.

The range of uses is limited only by imagination: one municipality in Africa uses the Pi to monitor public rubbish bins to decide when to send out its collection trucks. Raspberry Pis are even used at the Sony manufacturing facility itself, where they’ve helped to make its automated processes 30% more efficient.

 



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