THE Gwent base of a multimillion pound foundation to nurture future entrepreneurs, backed by the region’s best known businessman, Sir Terry Matthews, was opened yesterday.

Alacrity Foundation hopes to take young graduates from Wales and beyond and give them the contacts, the knowledge and the vital cash to form successful businesses.

It will try to equip budding entrepreneurs with ideas from multi-national technology outfits and the skills to run their own firms, and aims to set up ten new Welsh-based companies over the next five years.

About 11 graduates are already working at the centre.

The scheme, which kicked off last year, has attracted graduates from across Wales, England and even Bangladesh, but is based in Newport city centre, at Alacrity House on Usk Way.

Sir Terry Matthews, billionaire owner of the Celtic Manor Resort who made his fortune in hitech companies, yesterday officially opened Alacrity House, together with Welsh business minister Edwina Hart.

The Welsh government is providing £2.8 million of the £5.6 million budget for five years for the graduate “boot camp”, with the rest provided by others including Sir Terry’s investment outfit Wesley Clover and the Admiral Insurance-backed Waterloo Foundation.

Sir Terry told the assembled crowd: “If you don’t have in your society the next generation of business people you have no future in business here.”

Alacrity’s chief executive officer Michael Doyle said the teams of graduates work with the foundation for around a year and are given ideas from partners such as Vodafone and Fujitsu. “We try to make sure there’s a demand for an idea before they work on it,” he said.

Firms emerging from the scheme would get access to venture capital of up to £250,000 for 12-13 months.

Benjamin Milsom, 22, of Allt-Yr-Yn in Newport, joined Alacrity five weeks ago. He said the best part of the scheme was that they would have the chance to start their own business.

“I don’t really have any business experience – this provides the perfect opportunity to start off,” he said.

COMMENT: ‘Boot camp’ is welcome

THE doors officially opened yesterday on a graduate ‘boot camp’ which aims to create the next generation ofWales entrepreneurs in Newport.

The multi-million-pound Alacrity Foundation brings together those with expansive business knowledge, marketing skills and contacts, with bright young graduates who have ideas to develop.

The Foundation has gained significant investment from both the public and private sector with the ultimate goal being the creation of hi-tech companies here in Wales.

It is an innovative project and one which, if successful, could act as a catalyst for major investment.

Its strength is in its unique bringing together of science, engineering and technology graduates with global companies and investors.

When students leave, they will not leave with a job but with a company, part-owned by themselves, the Alacrity Foundation and venture capitalists.

Backed by billionaire Sir Terry Matthews, the Foundation is, in our view, a significant and welcome boost for Newport.

Not only does it mean the city will attract the brightest graduates but it also means that the city is well-placed to house any companies created at the end of the programme.

This is good news not just for Newport, but for Wales, which can benefit from keeping and attracting talented graduates.