"Wales is open for business": An evening at the ESTnet Awards

ITProPortal spent an evening in Cardiff to take part in the ESTnet Awards, an evening designed to celebrate the best and brightest of Wales' electronics and software technology talent.

Six companies from the Caerphilly, Newport and Port Talbot areas of South Wales were honoured at the evening, which saw 360 guests entertained by opera-singing waiters, and the hyperactive sound of a dancing electric violin quartet.

"Tonight is a celebration of everything that is achievable," said Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science. "Looking forward we have to stimulate more collaboration, close the skills gap and increase the number of start-ups."

Port Talbot-based Vizolution Ltd won the award for "Innovative Software Package of the Year" for the development of its vScreen product, a screen-sharing technology designed to make life easier for call centre staff.

Newbridge-based Axiom Manufacturing Services, which designs and manufactures components for top electronics manufacturers, took the "Supplier of the Year" title, while Oakdale-based General Dynamics UK Ltd a leading prime contractor and complex systems integrator for military and commercial clients, won the "Innovative Product of the Year" title for its Virtual Advanced Synthetic Trainer (VAST).

SPTS Technologies Ltd also won an award, throwing it on the pile with the Queen's Award for Enterprise in International Trade it won in 2013.

It wasn't all established industry-leaders, though. Caerphilly-based lead generation company Leopard Digital, which optimises the use of social media for marketing, was also named 'Start Up of the Year.'

The most touching round of awards was the "Young Engineer of the Year", which saw some of the brightest young talent in engineering and technology honoured. This eventually went to Anthony Harrison, who works for specialist semiconductor manufacturer IR from Newport, although the other two contestants were very strong entries too.

"Ours is an industry that drives the global economy," said ESTnet chair Ian Menzies. "It is one of Wales' most vibrant and important sectors, employing more than 24,000 people in over 600 companies who collectively generate a turnover of over £7billion. In Wales we design, develop, manufacture and integrate some of the world's most advanced technologies."

The ESTnet represents more than 70 per cent of the Welsh Government's ICT Sector Anchor Companies.

Minister Edwina Hart added: "We need to get the message across that we are very much open for business in Wales, and when potential investors look in and see that, they will want to be part of it."