Since its beginnings in 1999, it has become firmly established as the award that entrepreneurial businesses in Wales aspire to. The annual gala dinner – which is open only to the fifty fastest growing firms in Wales – has also developed into one of the largest Welsh business events of the year and, unlike any other award ceremony, is judged solely by the performance of businesses. However, the most important aspect of this project is the continuing impact that the firms featured have on Wales.
Since 1999, the 470 firms that have appeared on the fifteen lists have created over 25,000 jobs and generate an estimated £14 billion of additional turnover annually, much of which is spent in their local area. Yet despite this success, much remains to be done to turn fast growing firms into supergrowth companies that can have a major and continuing impact on the Welsh economy.
That is why the Wales Fast Growth 50 project is pleased to be working closely with both the Welsh and UK Government on the further development of such businesses.
For example, the Permanent Secretary of the Welsh Government has met on a number of occasions with representatives of firms from the Fast Growth 50 list to discuss their concerns regarding the Welsh economy and more, importantly, how they could be supported in their efforts to grow their businesses. I look forward to similar meetings this year to ensure that the views of Welsh entrepreneurs are placed at the heart of policymaking in Wales.
And following this year’s awards, a new Growth and Innovation Network pilot will be launched to support high-growth indigenous businesses to increase profits, turnover and employment. This will provide tailored packages of guidance, advice and support to selected SMEs that create a high number of jobs, including the Fast Growth 50 firms and the Welsh Government’s High Potential Start-up clients and innovation-led businesses.
I would also like to thank the Secretary of State for Wales for his continuing support for the Wales Fast Growth 50 during the last twelve months and the Welsh Office for discussions on how to link up the Fast Growth 50 firms into opportunities at a UK Government level.
However, since I came up with the idea of listing the fastest growing indigenous Welsh firms back in 1998, the most important relationship for the Wales Fast Growth 50 project has been with the Western Mail. Without the ever-present backing of Alan Edmunds, Sion Barry and the business team at the Western Mail, the Fast Growth 50 project would be unable to continue and I thank them for their continued support.
Finally, I am grateful to Santander Corporate and Commercial Banking for being the main sponsor for the gala dinner and Capital Law, Business in Focus, Cake Communications, Community Housing Cymru, Dialogue Marketing, Logicalis, Media Wales, Nominet, Sinclair Finance and Leasing and the University of South Wales for sponsoring the individual awards.
I am sure that, as usual, the atmosphere will be electric and it will be fantastic to see the Fast Growth 50 firms celebrating their achievements with their staff, customers, family and friends and helping to make the event a very special night for everyone at the event.
If we can continue to celebrate, support and develop such businesses over the next few years, then the future success and growth of the Welsh economy is assured.