Source: The Sunday Times
The fortunes of the past in the capital and commercial centre of Wales were built on coal – taking it from the valleys and exporting it all around the world. At the Coal Exchange, now a luxury hotel, the first million-pound cheque is said to have been written.
Devolution brought regeneration to Cardiff Bay, now it’s coming to the centre of the city. Already filming dramas such as Dr Who and Casualty at its Roath Lock studios, the BBC now has a flagship property in Central Square, part of the revival of the area around the railway station, redeveloped by Rightacres.
The BBC’s move into Central Square – followed by the HMRC with 4,000 employees – has been seen as galvanising a city that local business people still see as having the qualities of a village. Cardiff’s role as a creative hub has also been boosted by the TV production company Bad Wolf, which adapted Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials for BBC television.
The next step is the redevelopment of the former Brains Brewery, which will become the waterfront Central Quay.
The insurance industry and its price comparison websites have thrived, with insurer Admiral in the vanguard.
The tech sector is also blossoming, from start-ups to semiconductors, with Drew Nelson, 65, the founder of Cardiff-based IQE, leading the charge to create a compound semiconductor cluster in Wales.
WHO TO WATCH
Founded by Toby Kernon, 45, Wagonex is a car subscription service that aims to make ownership a thing of the past.
Credas, founded by Rhys David, 39, in 2017, develops technology for businesses to carry out identity and document verification checks, using facial recognition.
Based in the Tramshed (see right), MyPinpad, founded in 2012 by Justin Pike, 45, provides solutions for secure mobile payments.
American co-founder and chief executive Chris Ganje, 37, made Cardiff home in 2015 for Amplyfi, which uses AI to drive business intelligence and research.
Founded in 2015 by chief executive Gareth Lewis, 30, and chief commercial officer David Newman, 31, Delio provides white-label technology for wealth managers and private banks.
Sonovate, founded by Damon Chapple, 42, and Richard Prime, 44, supplies finance and back-office technology to recruitment agencies. It has just received £110m in debt and equity finance.
A former television executive, John, 62 this month, opened Tramshed Tech with entrepreneur Louise Harris, 41, who runs the Big Learning Company, in 2016. The old Tramshed in Grangetown, one of the nation’s poorest council wards, was just four walls when they started. Now it has expanded to 25,000 sq ft with 40 offices as well as co-working space. It hosts Innovate UK and Film Cymru.
Hyde, 47, doubles as a recruiter at Recruit 121 and founder and promoter of the FinTech Awards Wales and the Finance Awards Wales.
Theo, 56, co-founded Wealthify in 2014 with the aim of making investing something that anyone can do easily. Aviva has taken an investment in the 40strong Tec Marina-based scale-up. Theo, who also founded price comparison site Active Quote, is the government’s fintech envoy for Wales.
Parsons, 46, set up the comparison website confused.com during 14 years at Admiral in Cardiff before leaving in 2006 to found Go Compare from her kitchen table. Eight years later she sold the business, whose advertising features the love-him-or-hate-him opera singer Gio Compario (Wynne Evans), for £180m.
Sir Terry Matthews
The 76-year-old billionaire made his fortune in technology and telecoms companies in Canada. His son Owen runs the Newport-based Alacrity Foundation, helping entrepreneurs with tech start-ups.
Stevens, 58, founded insurer Admiral in 1993 with Henry Engelhardt, whom he succeeded as chief executive in 2016, and Andrew Probert. Still based in Cardiff, Admiral is now worth more than £6bn and listed in the FTSE 100.
WHERE TO WATCH
The Natwest Entrepreneur Acclerator in Central Square in the heart of the city is one of the most productive of the dozen NatWest runs around the country. The Cardiff Eagle Lab is a joint venture between Barclays and the insurer Legal & General. The lab collaborates with the Natwest Accelerator so that Natwest graduates can often go straight into the Barclays programme. The lab also works with the University of South Wales on cyber and medtech initiatives.
We moved our business here because…
“Taking Starling out of the London fintech bubble is important to us,” said Anne Boden, founder and chief executive of Starling Bank. “I believe that London’s success as a fintech hub should enable it to spread wealth through all the UK and the wider economy.” Starling plans to employ up to 600 people in Cardiff.