Competition Aims to Support Welsh SMEs to Forge Links Across Celtic Nations

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A new competition aims to support Welsh SMEs to develop trade links and connections in other Celtic nations.

The Interceltic Scaling Awards are open to firms headquartered in Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall and Brittany with ambitious expansion plans, annual turnover or pre-revenue funding of more than €250,000 and which have been established for at least two years. The winner will receive €20,000 in funding and three months incubation support in another Celtic nation of their choice.

With a total GDP of around £836 billion in 2022, the combined Celtic nations are among the 20 largest economies in the world, placed 18th between Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands. Between them the nations have a population of just under 21 million and 1.2 million businesses.

The competition has been launched by the Interceltic Business Forum, part of the Interceltic Festival, a cultural event that has been running for more than 50 years to celebrate the Celtic nations and their traditions. The competition winners will be announced at the festival, which attracts 800,000 visitors every August in Lorient, Brittany.

The Scaling Awards were developed by Mark O’Connell, Executive Chairman of Belfast-based advisory firm OCO Global, and Charles Kergaravat, founder of the Interceltic Business Forum.

Mark said:

“The cultural similarities across the Celtic nations – be that food, music, language or tradition – are well known, but there are also many natural linkages across the business community which the Interceltic Business Forum is starting to cultivate.

“Historically, these regions have been on the periphery from centres of population and power, often set apart by a different language and culture. They also share a similar maritime geography on the Atlantic, which is important for emerging sectors such as renewable energy, marine technology and agri-food.

“Post-Brexit it’s more important than ever to look at how businesses can build upon these shared characteristics. The Interceltic Scaling Awards are the starting point to develop new trade corridors and explore how we can turn our shared Celtic ancestry and traditions into a community that encourages new business.”

Founded in 2016, the Interceltic Business Forum brings together businesses, entrepreneurs and policymakers to forge connections, exchange ideas and promote opportunities for growth and development.

Charles added:

“The Interceltic Scaling Awards offer a golden opportunity for burgeoning companies across Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany, providing a crucial springboard for international growth and recognition.”

In addition to location and turnover, eligible firms must demonstrate a business plan outlining their scaling ambition and a clearly differentiated value proposition. Entrants are welcome from all sectors.

A minimum of 20 firms will be shortlisted from each region and five finalists will travel to the Interceltic Festival to present a pitch. All entrants will receive an evaluation using OCO Global’s Scaling Readiness Diagnostic matrix that measures attributes such as growth, leadership and funding.

The closing date for entries is June 24th. Firms can be nominated by their local economic development agency or can enter directly at www.intercelticforum.com/awards

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