Steve Holt – Angels Invest Wales at the Development Bank of Wales

Meet the senior civil servant driving change through the angel network in Wales.

Steve Holt has been championing Wales for a long time. Twenty-three years to be exact. That’s how long ago it was when he moved from the private sector, where he had developed a successful career in manufacturing management, to a job with the former Welsh Development Agency.

Jump forward to the present day, and Steve is now Director of Angels Invest Wales, whose mission is to help Wales’ vibrant network of entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs reach the next level of success through strategic introductions to the angel investment network in Wales.

Steve’s first role at the Welsh Development Agency some twenty years ago was in supply chain management, but he soon moved into an international role by heading up the European Inward Investment Team. After helping to set international offices for Wales in Amsterdam and Munich, he spent 10 years managing a small dedicated team across Europe in the pursuit of foreign direct investment opportunities for Wales across key industries.

In 2009, Steve returned to the UK to take charge of the Welsh Government, European funded Business Innovation Programme, an initiative still currently running that inspires innovation, process improvement and R&D in Welsh SMEs.

He takes up the story, “After a couple of years delivering the Business Innovation Programme, I was then asked to set up Welsh Government’s new office in London which was a strategic priority for the First Minister. I was promoted into the senior civil service and helped to set up the new office in Westminster. I then spent four years in London building up the team in that office. With Welsh devolution and Brexit in full flow, our goal was to identify inward investment and trade opportunities, and also provide an effective environment for Welsh Government to negotiate and do business in Westminster and Whitehall across crucial policy areas for Wales. It was kind of Welsh Embassy in London if you like.”

At the end of the four-year assignment, Steve took on a new challenge and was appointed Programme Director at the Wales business angel network, with a brief to restructure and rebrand the organisation that would eventually become Angels Invest Wales, an integral part of the newly created Development Bank of Wales.

Which brings us to the present day. Steve says, “Where I sit now at Angels Invest Wales helps me use my experience of managing and delivering business support for Welsh businesses. In supporting clients and investors alike at the development bank, we help build and develop tangible business opportunities in Wales that will ultimately create new jobs.

The four years I spent in London recently are pivotal to my work now. During that time, I met lots of high-profile, high-net-worth individuals and potential investors – so-called business angels – who can potentially make a significant contribution to future business development in Wales.

As far as BeTheSpark is concerned, Steve is excited about its potential to galvanise the nation and maximise business synergies. He says, “BeTheSpark is about trying to get everyone to pull together and maximise the sum of our parts. We’re a small country and it’s great we’ve got such an important programme to inspire everyone to collaborate and work together - ultimately ensuring everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.

I also think Wales also needs to remain competitive in the modern commercial marketplace. This is crucially important. With initiatives like BeTheSpark, and the committed individuals involved in them, we have a chance to inspire and deliver real economic success.”

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