A new online platform has been launched by the Welsh Innovation Centre for Enterprise (Welsh ICE).
The new platform, called ice.community, gives members access to a range of workshops, documents, discounts and a range of events.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Welsh ICE has seen restrictions on the number of people able to work from its co-working space at its base on Caerphilly Business Park.
Welsh ICE, where Caerphilly Observer is also based, is one of five regional enterprise hubs across Wales, all funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
The hubs will see over £4m invested to provide supportive spaces and mentoring for new and growing businesses, with the ICE campus supporting the South East Wales Valleys region.
Jamie McGowan, CEO of Welsh ICE, said: “The bricks and mortar aspect of ICE has always been important, but at the end of the day it is the people that form the community that make ICE what it is.
“Seventy-four per cent of members at ICE have developed formal agreements with each other, and that’s something that has continued into lockdown, even though they are not physically able to engage with one another.
“It sounds sentimental, but ICE really isn’t just a place to work. It is an ethos, it’s a live network of people working together, collaborating and growing their businesses with the support of a collective experience of more than 700 people.
“That isn’t limited to being within two metres of each other anymore – it can happen anywhere there is the facility to do so, and that’s what ice.community gives us, – a virtual working space that spans the country, not just Caerphilly.”
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Emma Easter, who runs children’s clothing company Easterkins, is a member of Welsh ICE, despite having never stepped foot through its doors.
Emma joined Welsh ICE through its 5-9 club – an outreach programme providing workshops and business support to people looking to start their own business.
Emma said: “ICE has been an absolute lifeline during the lockdown. Being able to continue to develop my skills and also communicate with other business owners has been amazing.
“My business isn’t really suitable for co-working with noisy sewing machines, thread and fabric everywhere. However, the need to feel like part of a community remains important to me.
“I’ve always felt like part of the community at ICE even though I’m not a member of the co-working space.
“Having this virtual workspace will only make it even more inclusive and diverse than it already is.”
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