I randomly agreed to wear my original Superman suit from the Superman 1 movie at the Welsh Digital Festival in September if I got 500 RTs. Apart from being a mad moment, it's also because I really like what both Wales and Scotland are trying to do not only for super early stage companies but for scale ups and more mature companies too.
I still love London but in recent times it's become too expensive for even the best companies to survive cost-wise, let alone the fact you struggle to get good staff and when you do, they want serious money and serious deals.
At the start of the year, one of the companies I chair decided enough was enough when it came to running development teams in London.
We visited both Wales and Scotland. We decided on Scotland, Edinburgh in fact, and have received amazing support in the form of grants from the Scottish government. We are now in the process of moving the development unit to Scotland and recruiting local people. Good local people may I add. I spent a few evenings at Glasgow meetups and the quality was very high without the “noise” we are so accustomed to in London.
Then we have Wales. I have over the past several years done talks in Wales for the community. Four years ago, and I don't think Wales will mind me saying this, a lot of the companies I met had a bit of a chip on their shoulder. That's changed. Yes it still exists but recently I was a judge for the Welsh Digital Dozen and was really impressed with the attitudes and quality on the whole. I went to a meetup in Cardiff and again was impressed. I have been fortunate to spend some time with companies such as University Cribs, Career Cake and others and the energy, determination but great foundation is impressive.
And that's why I am actively investing in Wales. They have some gems and the rest of the UK are following the sheep and missing out on these gems I suspect in some cases.
Then we have the automotive sector. We all read that Wales is no longer building a race track for the Moto GP. I am happy about that as I know the challenges well-established tracks like Silverstone have. However this has meant Wales has looked wider and thought, let's do automotive technology, with plans to invest some serious money over the next ten years.
I am excited about this and here is why. Unlike a lot of other automotive tech incubators I have seen, these guys are a) listening to people who actually know b) recognising they cannot do the usual approach in terms of support. Mix that with Aston Martin making the move for some of its manufacturing and these guys could end up leading the space or at least being a strong player in the automotive tech sector. That pleases me and I am working to get involved to support the strong play in this field.
I still firmly believe you have to have a London presence but I think the days of having to run whole teams out of London may well be behind us in the short term. I am working with four companies at the moment who are all in major growth stage and are throwing the towel in on London. Making a move not just for economic reasons and talent but also for employee wellbeing and not just in the workplace.
Oh and because I know I will get asked, the event in Wales is here www.digital-festival.co.uk