Ken Skates has announced £1m of funding which will help create a new business incubator in Wrexham, with the aim to deliver 100 new businesses and create 260 new jobs in the next two years.
The two year pilot, that aims to help secure at least £1m of private investment for its member entrepreneurs , will provide ‘wrap round support’ for aspiring entrepreneurs and will be delivered by Business Wales in association with Welsh ICE.
Last year we highlighted a post from ICE founder Gareth Jones where he all but issued a challenge (read it all here) to the people of Wrexham, and pointed out a Labour manifesto pledge.
Interesting read on the town… “Wrexham isn’t a shithole, and we can prove it.” https://t.co/qw9tg7Xal3
— Wrexham.com (@wrexham) July 26, 2016
At the time he said, “If we are going to create a space, it has to be a space for Wrexham, not just a lazy attempt to franchise what works in other parts of the country. To do that, we need people of Wrexham to help us design it.” Since that point we are aware of ongoing local discussions over bringing the concept to Wrexham, making it ‘more wrexhamy’ and useful for the town.
Funding for ICE could raise the question… what is ICE? Luckily there is a handy video showing the insides of the existing project (plus their website here).
Wrexham.com understands the final decision on the location of the incubator is still a long way off, but the talk in the coffee shops of town is it could take shape in the Un Deg Un project (in the old JJB), with the newly vacant BHS store being mooted – and one intriguing possibility in the TJ Hughes store, with an internal walkway rejoining Chester Street to the town centre being created.
Ken Skates said: “I am delighted to announce funding for the new incubator in Wrexham to harness, support and encourage the fantastic entrepreneurial talent in the region.
“Innovation and entrepreneurship are vital drivers for the economy and I want to continue to create the best environment for entrepreneurs across Wales and will be using the pilot to inform my future economic priorities.
“The importance of providing space, community and support for aspiring entrepreneurs is key to success and I am keen to build on and complement the existing infrastructure across Wales.”
The Hub will provide ‘a community for entrepreneurs that will link to the wider ecosystem including Glyndwr University, Coleg Cambria, industry and support agencies in the region’.
It effectively will roll out the successful business incubator models that are established in Wales and will focus on providing a supportive environment for like minded entrepreneurs to develop their businesses.
Welsh ICE CEO and Founder Gareth I. Jones, said: “We are excited to start to work more with the community in Wrexham, and partners at Welsh Government and Business Wales, to help anyone with an idea for their own business, no matter how big or small, to make positive steps towards launching their own start-up.”
The Hub will be delivered through the Business Wales consortium – which is backed by EU funding – who will work collaboratively with Caerphilly based Welsh ICE which has four years of experience of running a successful incubation facility.
Welsh Government note the ICE project “…will provide a shared work environment, business advice, structured workshops, increased opportunities and challenges designed to inspire potential entrepreneurs to develop resilient and successful companies.
“It will also provide entrepreneurs with international trade support, high quality business advice, intercompany and individual networking opportunities, and mentoring and training support.”
Dave Gray, who has been involved locally in the creative sector and business startup community, said: “This is great news and demonstrates a real confidence in the potential of our small business community. I’ve been involved in supporting new and developing companies over the last 10 years, at The Foundry, and more recently at our Creative Industries incubator at Undegun.
“It’s reassuring to see this investment into the town, and it will have a hugely positive impact, bringing together a lot of the diverse business services that currently exist, and providing direct support to entrepreneurs to get their ideas up and running here in Wrexham.”
You can read more about Welsh Ice via their WelshIce.org website…