Carmarthenshire economic think tank to foster entrepreneurial culture

July 2019 | Featured, Rural policy

Leading economic experts from across Wales have announced plans to launch a major two year project focused on fostering an entrepreneurial culture within Carmarthenshire.

In its first phase, the specific focus of the ‘Arsyllfa: Observatory’ think tank will be on finding ways the work of a number of organisations currently delivering support can be complemented with increased ideas and innovation from the private sector and wider community engagement.

Providing their time free of charge, the working group brings together five leading experts in rural economic regeneration who have experience of heading some of the most well-known economic development bodies in Wales, including Finance Wales, Menter Môn, Antur Teifi and Menter a Busnes.

The advisory group held their first meeting earlier this month to flesh out plans for the first phase. Chaired by the former head of Antur Teifi and the Welsh Development Agency’s Agri-food Division, Wynfford James, the other members are Sian Lloyd Jones, Hywel Evans, Gerallt Llywelyn Jones. Jon Parker from CamNesa consultancy will also work closely with the group.

Commenting on why his Carmarthen-based company, Sgema, decided to form the advisory group, Wynfford James said: “As the full impact of Brexit remains unclear, as does Carmarthenshire’s role in the new city region initiative, we felt now was the right time to launch a project pooling together expertise to see how fresh new ideas could help create an environment that allows entrepreneurial culture to flourish and meet the changing demands of rural communities.”

This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government, with leading integrated communications agency Four Cymru, hosting and managing the secretariat for the working group.

Four Cymru associate director and ‘Arsyllfa: Observatory’ project manager, Rhys Flowers, noted: “As someone local to Carmarthenshire I can see the great potential that currently exists and would urge private sector businesses and individuals wanting to get involved in the project to contact us and help develop our ideas further.”

The initial phase of the project will aim to create a framework and mechanism to develop an environment that increases the awareness of entrepreneurial opportunities within the area and testing new ideas. In agreement with local partners, delivery of new ideas could be implemented by existing public and private players in business and entrepreneurial development.

Former Finance Wales head and advisory group member, Sian Lloyd Jones, added: “Our aim is to think of new ideas through a number of task and finish studies prior to engaging with local private and public sector partners in their delivery. We won’t be looking to duplicate any existing work out there but instead pinpoint where gaps exist and exploit any opportunities to collaborate further. This seems all the more crucial within the context of Carmarthenshire’s role in the city region model.”

The group will be meeting again shortly to agree a working plan for the coming months as well as meet with key providers of entrepreneurial programmes, including educational establishments, to see how entrepreneurship and innovation can be fostered.

To learn more about the project please contact Wynfford James at

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