BeTheSpark Set the Benchmark in 2018

2018 was a year to remember! As we reflect on some of our top highlights and achievements throughout the year we thought we’d share these with you, as well as share our excitement of what’s to come in 2019.

If you follow our social media channels you will know just how busy our team has been over the last 12 months striving to achieve our vision of creating a more visible, simple and connected entrepreneurial ecosystem within Wales.

Our latest blog entry summarises our activity nicely…

BeTheSpark 2018 round-up blog

The first Higher & Further education event

We started the year with the first Higher and Further Education event held at the University of South Wales in Newport.

BeTheSpark facilitated the event allowing over 120 representatives within academia gather from across Wales to share best practice one of the must-win battles which was to 'Publicise HE/FE activities and successes to inspire others'.

The event ran over two-days in parallel sessions and offered over 50 presentations delivered by the attendees themselves as well as presentations from Professor Simon Gibson CBE, Georgina Campbell Flatter of MIT and BeTheSpark CEO, Caroline Thompson.

From the content shared, attendees were able to gain insight, ideas and practical actions they could take away and implement within their own organisations to build on the existing entrepreneurial support available.

All presentations that were shared can be found on our website under the downloads section.


BeTheSpark in Action – Digital Festival 2018

Within this year’s Digital Festival, we created a zone focussing on entrepreneurship throughout Wales.

Our vision for the event was to create a zone where we payed forward a large amount of space for entrepreneurs to showcase their business within the festival. Entrepreneurs who exhibited under the BeTheSpark umbrella were:

During the two-day event we hosted a live pitch-off event where six tech entrepreneurs pitched their business to a panel of judges and audience of approx. 80. The winner of the pitching competition was awarded with a prize of 1:1 mentoring - BeTheSpark collaborated with Global Welsh to source one of the diaspora to source a suitable mentor.

In addition to the mentoring prize, BeTheSpark collaborated with the Cardiff based co-working space, Space2B who provided free office space for a month as part of the prize. 

The Digital Festival was a great example of capturing BeTheSpark in action as we used the event to add value and make connections for entrepreneurs in Wales. 


Mapping a visible, simple and connected ecosystem in Wales

On our quest to create a more visible, simple and connected entrepreneurial ecosystem within Wales we created our first Edition Blueprint map. This is a digital map that currently houses co-working spaces, accelerator hubs, business services and tech facilities available to entrepreneur’s pan-Wales.

It’s a living document which we are committed to developing as our ecosystem grows. The blueprint allows entrepreneurs of all stages to view and contact each support service available to them helping make the entrepreneurial landscape more visible and easier to link in with those people and organisations that can enable them to grow.

Through the creation of the First Edition Blueprint map BeTheSpark hope to achieve the agreed must-win battle of 'Providing a visible and simple signposting service to all areas of available funding for different stages of business growth'. Click here to access the First Edition Blueprint.


Amazon Academy landed in Wales 

BeTheSpark played a key role in encouraging and enabling Enterprise Nation in bringing the first ever Amazon Academy event to Wales back in September. Through our digital channels and network connections we actively promoted the event encouraging entrepreneurs and members of our five stakeholder groups to attend.

Over 700 people signed up to attend the event where attendees gained access to valuable 1:1 workshops, key insight and information as well as gaining top tips directly from Amazon themselves on how to use e-commerce to grow their business.


Pitch It Wales

An audience of over 120 guests from across our five stakeholder groups gathered at Cardiff Metropolitan University on the 17th October for the first of its kind event to be held in Wales. This event was delivered in partnership with BeTheSpark and Inspire Wales.

Pitch It offered entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to pitch their business live to a panel of investors from the Inspire Wales consortium for the chance to gain £50k of equity investment each as well as access to mentoring.

Click here to read the full article.


Joining Forces – Entrepreneurship Across Borders

In July BeTheSpark hosted ‘Joining Forces – Entrepreneurship Across Borders’ event in the Old Library, Cardiff. This event was set to bring together people and organisations from across our five stakeholder groups to discuss and explore the thriving economy within Spain and open the potential for new business opportunities as well as exchanging ideas on how the most effective way to support entrepreneurship.

We were thrilled to welcome the Spanish Ambassador, Carlos Bastarreche Sagues to open the event and hear from a selection of inspiring keynote speakers from ICEX, MediTech Pharmacy, Ffotogallery followed by a live panel Q&A.

Click here to read the full article.


A week in MIT Boston

“The capacity to learn is a gift. The ability to learn is a skill. The willingness to learn is a choice”

Our CEO Caroline Thompson was lucky enough to travel to MIT Boston in November with a group of ambitious entrepreneurs and key influencers within the Welsh entrepreneurial ecosystem. The week was packed with networking opportunities, conferences, exclusive tours of MIT and the chance to meet some of the key influencers and entrepreneurs within the programme.  

Some highlights of the week included:

  • Attending ‘Making Innovation Happen in Your Organisation’ conference
  • Getting to meet Bill Aulet and gaining first-hand insight into the processes outlined in his well-known book, Disciplined Entrepreneurship
  • A group tour of The Engine – MIT’s accelerator which demonstrates the value of having hands on support from the wider ecosystem and peer to peer learning.
  • Attending MIT Research and Development Conference and exploring the theme of ‘Accelerating Big Impact Innovations’
  • Catching up with Georgina Campbell-Flatter and attending her MIT Legatum class on ‘Building global connections through entrepreneurship’

Valleys task force

BeTheSpark hosted the first ‘Celebrating and Shaping Our Valleys, Our Future’ event in May this year where we welcomed attendees from across BeTheSpark’s five stakeholder groups who were passionate about creating more opportunities, business prosperity and growth in the heart of the Valleys communities.

The event allowed the Valleys task to begin to put Our Valleys, Our Future into practice by gathering live feedback from a cross-stakeholder forum. The event also aligned with the following must-win battle “Participate in driving a positive cultural shift towards start-up and entrepreneurship”.


Principality Case Study

On the 17th May 2018 the leadership team at the Wesley Clover Innovation Centre welcomed Principality’s executive team to their premises at the Celtic Manor, Newport.

Five businesses housed within the innovation centre got the chance to pitch their business 1:1 to the executive team. This was a unique opportunity which facilitated cross-stakeholder collaboration. The Principality executive team were so enthused by the entrepreneurs they offered each pitcher a mentor from the board and a follow-up meeting. Conversations are still ongoing to this day.

Click here to find out what has happened following the initial meetings.