Startups highlight the future of Wales at Digital Festival

The Digital Festival began with a bang in Cardiff yesterday, giving the next generation of Welsh tech companies the opportunity to put themselves on the map.

Now in its fifth year, the two-day event is aimed at raising the profile of Wales's growing tech sector and the promising companies that work within it.

It profiled Innovation Point's Digital Dozen Accelerator, which is Wales's first national accelerator programme for technology startups. Eleven of the country's brightest young companies have been chosen to take part in the scheme.

Set up in July, the six-month scheme offers finalists the tools, skills and connections they need to grow and secure their next investment round.

Participating companies include estate agency platform Properr, data protection startup Prizm, student rental website University Cribs and software developer Open Genius.

Mike Adams, CMO of Digital Dozen finalist Prizm, said at the event: "We are looking to broaden our knowledge base at Digital and making sure that people understand what we're bringing to the market as well.

"The Digital Dozen has given us access to tremendous support from Innovation Point, as well as giving us the opportunity to meet businesses in similar situations, which can only be good."

Speaking about the launch of the programme, Innovation Point CEO David Warrender added: "Previous iterations of the Digital Dozen have brought tremendous success to the participants.

"With the added support, expertise and guiding hands from proven entrepreneurs, this year looks to be the best yet. We can't wait to see where the programme takes these leading innovative companies."

The event also attracted the interest of independent startups. Dafydd Steven Jones is one of many Welsh tech entrepreneurs who have used the event to get their names out there. Only 17 years old, he is the founder of Doze.

Doze is a location-based alarm app for public transport. Set to launch officially next month, the software notifies users just before they arrive at their stop - even when underground.

He told IT Pro: "We have received support from the Welsh government through the Big Ideas Wales programme and are a member of Entrepreneurial Spark in Cardiff.

"Digital has been a fantastic experience to get the word out about Doze, ready for our official launch in London on 10 October. Nucleus Expo reached out on Twitter to see if I'd be interested in coming along."

The Nucleus Expo, one of the UK's leading tech and science event organisers, is holding a startup hub at the event and Doze is one of the firms demoing there.

Layla-Jane Stacey, CEO and founder of Nucleus, said: "To help startups such as Doze fuse further innovation with like-minded entrepreneurial spirits and in turn help support the commercialisation of tech in the region.

"Some startups don't have the ability or budget to connect with those that can help them. Nucleus brings a ready-made ecosystem to your doorstep where you have the chance to meet people and businesses from across the UK."

Picture of Digital Festival participants, credit: Innovation Point

Nicholas Fearn is a freelance technology journalist and copywriter from the Welsh valleys. His work has appeared in publications such as the FT, the Independent, the Daily Telegraph, the Next Web, T3, Android Central, Computer Weekly, and many others. He also happens to be a diehard Mariah Carey fan. You can follow Nicholas on Twitter.