A new accelerator aimed at tech start-ups and scale-ups is hoping to find the country’s first unicorn company.
The hunt is on for Wales’ most ambitious tech firms as part of a brand-new growth programme – the Digital Dozen Accelerator.
The initiative, powered by Innovation Point, seeks to identify the very best of Wales’ digital and tech businesses and take them on an intensive, bespoke, six-month journey to help them secure investment.
The accelerator includes high profile and experienced mentors, specialist training, pitch and demo days, and investor introductions.
One of the highlights of being part of the Digital Dozen Accelerator is the opportunity to pitch to a panel of high-profile investors at the Digital 2017 event held in Tramshed Tech in September and at a prestigious event held at the London Stock Exchange in November.
For its third year, the 2017 Digital Dozen programme has undergone significant changes to become a full-scale six-month accelerator programme and is open to start-ups and scale-ups looking to raise investment in the next six to eight months. There is no charge to be part of the accelerator and Innovation Point will not take an equity stake in return for participation.
Wales has high ambitions to become the second biggest digital economy outside of London and through the Digital Dozen, Innovation Point is shining the spotlight on the tech talent of Wales, attracting investment into Wales and helping catapult the region’s credentials as a global digital player.
Potential applicants have only a week to apply with the deadline set for 28 June. For the first time, those who have previously been part of the Digital Dozen campaign are invited to re-apply to benefit from the increased level of support on offer.
David Warrender, CEO of Innovation Point which drives digital innovation in Wales, said: “This year, building on the successful 2016 Digital Dozen campaign, we are seeking a cohort of dragons that we can turn into unicorns.
“We’re offering a new, bigger and better package of support for start-ups and scale-ups looking for their next investment round (or perhaps a Stock Exchange listing) and whose ambitions match ours.
“Wales has the raw talent and ambition to become the leading force in the UK digital economy outside the capital. This package of support will enhance our reputation as the UK destination of choice for capable tech businesses.
“This programme will offer bespoke training, an unrivalled mentoring programme and links to only the smartest of investors. This package is designed to stack the odds of successful, rapid growth firmly in favour of those ambitious businesses who participate.
“We are seeking Wales based tech disruptors who are ready to accept the challenge and work with us to turn their dragon into a unicorn.”
Head of partnerships at Innovation Point and accelerator manager, Colin Batten, said: “This is a real step change from previous years.
“We’ve worked hard to build an accelerator that meets the ambitious needs of the exploding tech scene here in Wales.
“The huge package of support includes everything from investment readiness and pitching training to securing intellectual property and international expansion.
“Perhaps most important of all, we’ve brought some incredibly experienced mentors from the world of tech and investment onboard.
“The guidance and experience these mentors can offer is paramount for any start-up or scale-up seeking to achieve their potential.”
Past participants of the Digital Dozen campaign have represented a range of sectors and are already making their mark on the UK’s economy through innovative uses of technology; they include those in fintech, med-tech and ICT such as the successful Delio, DevOpsGuys and Elidir Health.
Commenting on their participation in the Digital Dozen in 2016, CEO of North-Wales based Elidir Health, Dyfan Searell, said: “Being part of the Digital Dozen really let people know we ‘landed’. It gave us a platform to show the world we’re a serious proposition. Not only that, it was fantastic for networking, raising our profile and enabling us to open up our market on a national level.”
In South Wales, Gareth Lewis, CEO of Delio, said: “The Digital Dozen puts you alongside the most exciting and talked about businesses in Wales. It opened up lots of opportunities for us across the UK and further afield and we’ve gone from strength to strength, so much so we have opened an office in Belgium and just picked up the award for best digital start-up in Wales.”
To be considered for the accelerator, applicants need to tell Innovation Point why they should be selected. A panel of both investors and entrepreneurs will review entries and those shortlisted will be invited to attend an interview on 4 July. Applicants can apply here.