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CBF Event Review: Prof. Dylan Jones-Evans OBE

Caerphilly Business Forum were delighted to host Dylan Jones-Evans at our monthly Entrepreneur breakfast meeting in Caerphilly this morning. Taking place at Llechwen Hall Hotel, the third event in our series focussed on how entrepreneurship in Wales can be developed further.

Dylan Jones-Evans was invited to speak due to his vast insights into the business landscape. A panel member for Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT’s) Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme for Wales, Creator of Wales’ Fast Growth 50 scheme, and columnist for the Western Mail, Jones-Evans was ideally placed to discuss just how Wales can remain competitive in an increasingly saturated market.

Initially he confirmed that Wales requires a greater influx of driven professionals to create and manage their own businesses – not just to target Welsh markets, but also global trade. He noted that if just 1% of graduates in Wales started a business, that would result in 1,000 more firms per year.

The path to achieving this goal, he expanded, requires a foundation based in economic policy and education – a foundation which is currently lacking. In his discussion, Dylan highlighted that currently just 0.3% of graduates start their own business. When linked with a 40% business survival rate after five years, and 38% of potential entrepreneurs not starting a business due to fear of failure, it becomes clear that a shift in focus is needed.

The question that must be answered, then, is a simple one. How can start-ups, businesses, universities and the public sector collaborate and to make entrepreneurship more viable?

For existing start-ups, the answer could see the utilisation of innovative technologies to boost productivity across a supply chain. Prior to this, however, a more supportive environment for entrepreneurs must be created – minimising the fear of failure and the associated financial risks. Dylan reminded the audience of his mantra - ‘fail fast and learn lessons’. He confirmed this outlook results in stronger businesses, a greater number of new businesses, and a more resilient economy through celebrating success and not focussing on failure.

The benefits of a stronger entrepreneurial landscape for Wales are clear – from more sustainable businesses, to more wealth and jobs in the economy. To achieve this, Dylan recommended a holistic approach – combining greater access to finance, more education around how to start a business and a culture celebrating the successes, not failures, of Wales’ potentially vibrant start-up scene.

In short, Dylan Jones-Evans believes that entrepreneurship and enterprise must be reconsidered as an essential way of life. From an early age, schoolchildren must be encouraged to develop their own ideas – their own unique offering to the Welsh world of business. Once this has been achieved, and the next grassroots generation of business-owners in Wales have been properly trained, Wales can springboard into a future of increasingly globalised trade with international partners.