Why Cardiff?

( Post 4 of 25 )

A big on-going issue that has been affecting South Wales concerns its lack of perception as a startup hub outside of the usual places, such as Silicon Valley and London. It’s a frustration, as we – in South Wales – all know that our part of the world has so much potential on the entrepreneurship front. Helping to broadcast this message, we’re honoured to publish this short but sweet call-to-arms by Neil Cocker, a very well-known Cardiff entrepreneur who – even before he co-founded Cardiff Start – is often considered to be the figurehead of South Wales startups.

Neil Cocker photoI recently gave a talk at Bloomberg HQ in London in which I extolled the virtues of Cardiff as a place to build a startup. Most of the content will come as no surprise to those of us with any experience of the city. I bored them to death with news of the awards for the best quality of life, and how we’re flying high at the top of the Liveable Cities index. I told them about how our rents and wage costs were a fraction of theirs, and how our population is young, creative and educated. I bombarded them with pictures of Cardiff Bay, Penarth Pier and the Brecon Beacons, and I waxed lyrical about our world class sporting facilities.

Cardiff trio image - Cardiff Bay, Penarth Pier, Brecon Beacons (bottom)

From top to bottom:
Cardiff Bay, Penarth Pier, Brecon Beacons

But in amongst all the stuff that us Cardiffians instinctively know – and often take for granted – were some stats that really made the audience’s eyes light up. And this may be information about our big, little city that comes as news to you, too. The fact is that Cardiff is growing incredibly quickly. To be more precise, it’s due to grow its population by over 40% in the next 20 years. And this makes it the fastest growing core city in the UK, and the fastest growing capital city in Europe.

Every city in the world – with a few notable exceptions – is growing. For the first time in history, more people live in cities than outside them. Someone recently described it as the fastest, biggest demographic shift in the history of humanity. And Cardiff is leading this growth in the UK. And with growth, comes opportunity. The opportunity to take advantage of the influx of talent, and money, and buildings, and media, and culture, and restaurants and all the other things that follow when tens of thousands of people move into a new space, looking to build their lives in new and exciting ways.

And the story of Cardiff’s growth is a message we should be shouting from the top of our increasingly big buildings, and from the campuses of our rapidly-growing universities. If you want to build a startup, or headquarter an existing one, then there is nowhere better in the country – indeed in the UK – to tap into growth and a young, talented populace than our own fair city. It’s a message that the community around Cardiff Start – our city’s own tech startup community – is proud to be sharing at every opportunity, because as entrepreneurs, we’re really good at spotting potential.

Cardiff is growing, quickly. Tell everybody.

Neil Cocker is the founder of Dizzyjam, the co-founder of Cardiff Start and TEDxCardiff, and tweets at @NeilCocker.

[Image credits – Cardiff Bay: Ben Salter; Penarth Pier: Ben Salter; Brecon Beacons: nicksarebi]

6 thoughts on “Why Cardiff?

  1. You lost me at “how our population is young, creative and educated”. So you don’t want anybody who is old, creative and educated? This rampant ageism in the UK really frustrates me. I’ve worked for NASA, Hubble, ESA etc and I’ve started 4 businesses, here and in the USA. I’m trying to start my 5th, focussing on training in programming, Linux, and web development (see Business Out of Focus). I have a lot of experience, but apparently that counts against me. I really want to know, why do you explicitly mention ‘young’? What does age have to do with it?

    • Hi Alan,

      Thanks for the comment. But I’m not entirely sure how you think my comment about having a young population means that we don’t want more experienced workers and entrepreneurs too. That’s the equivalent of saying that because we have lots of apples in Cardiff, that we don’t want any oranges. It’s logically nonsense.

      Of course we need older workers and entrepreneurs in Cardiff. Every economy needs to be balanced, and diverse community, and it’s something I’ve actively spoken about on many occasions.


      • Hi Neil,
        Hi Neil,
        Had the statement said white, or male, or Christian, able-bodied etc, surely you would see that it was discriminatory. How is mentioning a particular age group any different? I’m sure you didn’t intend it to be discriminatory, but I do think it was an insensitive wording. ‘Young’ is clearly being touted as a special virtue along with ‘creative and educated’. I would be fine with that if your statement had some balance such as ‘as well as more experienced’. And shifting the subjects over to apples and oranges doesn’t help. Why only mention apples when you want oranges too?

        • Hi Alan,

          I’m sorry you feel the victim of discrimination. But that’s you viewing my words through your lens. That’s not the intention or meaning of what I said.

          By your logic I shouldn’t have mentioned creative or educated either for fear of discriminating against those who are uncreative and uneducated. Again, it’s logically completely flawed.

          The macro-economic benefit of a young, educated workforce is well documented, so I 100% percent stand by the fact that I used that phrase. There is nobody on the planet with an interest in inward investment or economic development who would not say that this is true. I really shouldn’t have to explain to someone of your apparent experience why this is true.

          But again, to suggest that I was implying that we don’t also need older, wiser, more experienced people in our workforce is utterly mis-reading and mis-interpreting my meaning.

          I’m sorry that you took offence at my exclusion of your specific age group, but if you have an axe to grind about ageism it’s really not with me.

          • Hi Neil,
            Thank you for clarifying your statement. I fully accept that you didn’t intend any ageism, but I stand by my observation that adjoining ‘young’ with other virtues such as ‘creative’, ‘educated’, and ‘talented’ (further down in your article) *can* be misread as implying that ‘older’ isn’t as good. At this point I think I’ll bow out since your last remark has an edge sharper than my axe!
            All the Best to you and Cardiff (lovely city!)

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