The FinTech Five – 9th of February 2024

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Welcome to Fintech Five, a fortnightly look at the best articles, news and insights from FinTech Wales members and the Financial Services industry across the UK.

1. de Novo Solutions Crowned One of the UK’s Top 10 SMEs in the Prestigious Elite Business 100

Leading Oracle Cloud and ServiceNow digital transformation consultancy, de Novo Solutions, has been named among the top 10 in the UK’s Top 100 small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK by Elite Business, a leading publication for SMEs and high-growth companies.

The Wales-based company, which specialises in the implementation and support of cutting-edge Finance, Procurement, HR and Payroll solutions, has been ranked seventh overall in the 2024 Elite Business 100 (EB100). This annual league table serves as a definitive celebration of business excellence in the UK.

Piers Linney, former investor on BBC’s Dragon’s Den and Co-Founder of Implement AI, said, “The EB100 is evidence of the overwhelming entrepreneurial spirit in Britain. Across every sector, we have seen truly impressive businesses that are devoted to achieving in all areas.”

On the evening of the 13th of March 2024, de Novo Solutions will join the crème de la crème of the UK SME community at the prestigious awards ceremony in St Paul’s, London. The event will serve as a platform to honour the UK’s top-performing businesses and share insights into their success stories.

“de Novo Solutions are innovators in the British SME community and deserve the spotlight shone on them from the Elite Business 100,” said Scott English, Brand Director of Elite Business. “This definitive league illustrates the crème de la crème of UK SMEs”.

Click here to read more

2. Capalona Enhances Business Funding Comparison with ‘Connected Insights’ Technology

Capalona, a leading business finance comparison website, has introduced its latest innovation, ‘Connected Insights,’ developed in-house by North Wales Fintech, Sorodo Ltd. This technology leverages Open Banking and Ai to enhance how businesses in the UK find finance.

Many businesses have already embraced the benefits of linking their bank accounts with Capalona, an integration that unlocks tailored results and provides a seamlessly streamlined experience for users.

Simon Moorcroft, Capalona’s co-founder, said, The uptake of SMEs connecting their business bank account has been phenomenal. Accessing real-time data enables us to match businesses to funding products more accurately.”

At its core, ‘Connected Insights’ represents a dynamic fusion of Open Banking and Ai-driven automation. This synergy empowers businesses by providing real-time, accurate funding options from a multitude of lenders within seconds.

Rich Wilcock, Capalona’s co-founder, highlights, “Our Connected Insights and Open Banking integration has been fundamental in providing customers with deep-dive matches for their funding options. Through this technology, we can provide, with our lenders, real-time funding solutions in minutes and offer the customer a level of comparison, transparency and control unmatched in the current online marketplace.”

Capalona’s platform puts control firmly in the hands of businesses. By showcasing funding options transparently and employing a digitised process, business owners can explore funding opportunities at their own pace, unhindered by any obstacles.

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3. Finalrentals Secures Spot in Tech Nation Libra Programme

Tramshed Tech based startup Finalrentals becomes the only Wales-based business on Tech Nation’s programme for underrepresented founders.

Ammar Akhtar, Founder and CEO of Finalrentals successfully secures a spot in Tech Nation’s prestigious Libra Programme and becomes the only Wales-based business amongst a cohort of 25.

Tech Nation’s Libra Programme is dedicated to empowering and connecting underrepresented tech founders, equipping them with the knowledge, connections, and tools necessary to scale their tech startups.

Akhtar goes on to say that “unlike other countries in the UK, Wales is not saturated. Founders have incredible support networks at their fingertips such as Tramshed Tech and Fintech Wales. Coming to Wales has changed my life. Prior to being here, I was bootstrapping and trying to make ends meet, but Wales taught me that I can scale. Now, I can imagine Finalrentals being a unicorn. Things that take months in England, take weeks if not days in Wales.”

According to Tech Nation, the UK’s Black and Multi-Ethnic communities comprise 14% of the UK population, yet all-ethnic teams received an average of 1.7% of the venture capital investments made at seed, early and late stage between 2009 and 2019.

Established in December 2016, Finalrentals launched with no investment but a wealth of industry experience from Akhtars decade in the rental car industry. Since launching, Finalrentals has secured a 5-figure investment to date from Development Bank for Wales, Fuel Ventures as well as prominent angel investors in Wales.

Now one of Wales’ fastest growing tech startups, Finalrentals is working across 27 countries, 400 locations and has access to 98,000 vehicles with ambitious plans to provide 100+ jobs in Wales (predominantly Cardiff). Akhtar has a vision to build a substantial HQ in Cardiff and reach a £1billion valuation by December 2028.

Read more on Finalrental securing a spot on Tech Nation Libra Programme

4. Principality CEO Julie-Ann Haines appointed to Prime Minister’s Business Council

The chief executive of Principality Building Society, Julie-Ann Haines, has been appointed to Rishi Sunak’s Business Council.

The 2024 council is made of chief executives of some of the UK’s biggest firms including Tufan Erginbilgic of Rolls-Royce, Keith Anderson of ScottishPower, Carolyn McCall of ITV and Debbie Crosbie of Nationwide.

The council will have regular meetings with the Prime Minister in Downing Street to share intelligence directly from the ‘shop floor’ to help boost the UK economy and create jobs. The first meeting will be held this month.

Ms Haines said: “I welcome the opportunity to sit on the Prime Minister’s 2024 Business Council and am proud there is representation from Wales and the mutual sector, bringing diversity of thought to the table.

“Housing and financial stability is critical to building a strong balanced economy which supports our communities and our mission to provide better homes, secure futures and a fairer society will be at the heart of the discussions.

Mr Sunak said: “The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said: Coming from a small business family, I know how integral business is to communities and the wider economy. Without the jobs, growth, and innovation created by UK firms, the country simply wouldn’t function. That’s why I’m getting businesses in for a regular update on how well we are doing in delivering for business – straight from the shop floor.”

Minister for Enterprise Kevin Hollinrake and the Prime Minister’s special advisor on business and investment, Franck Petitgas, will also hold quarterly meetings in Downing Street with small businesses.

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5. Ambitious Business Growth Programme to Elevate 75 Regional Firms in the Cardiff Capital Region

The Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) is now accepting applications for its new Business Growth Programme to drive economic development across Southeast Wales, helping entrepreneurs and scale up companies.

Jointly funded by Cardiff Capital Region and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, the intention for the Programme is to deliver targeted support to 75 selected businesses wanting to scale-up across the ten Local Authorities within the Region, focussing on (but not exclusively) the priority sectors of Fintech, Green Industries, MedTech, Cybersecurity, Compound Semiconductors, and Creative Industries.

Participants will experience a two-day immersive training workshop with renowned experts from Grant Thornton, Cardiff Metropolitan University and Business in Focus, covering strategic planning, sales mastery, talent management, operational efficiency, and financial acumen.

As well as high level teaching, there will be collaboration, peer learning, and mentorship with the opportunity to network with like-minded entrepreneurs, share experiences, and tap into the wisdom of seasoned business leaders.

Cllr Lis Burnett, Leader of The Vale of Glamorgan, said:

“Cardiff Capital Region’s Business Growth Programme is more than just individual business expansion. It’s about building a stronger, more prosperous future for the entire Region, by enabling growth, creating jobs, and fostering sustainable economic development.”

Continue reading on CCR’s growth programme

Until Next Time

This concludes this week’s edition of FinTech Five. Remember to join us every two weeks for the latest news highlights from our FinTech Wales membership.