The Welsh Innovation Centre for Enterprise has appointed a new community outreach manager as it looks to connect with potential business founders across south east Wales.

Lesley Williams joins the team at Welsh ICE to spread the reach of the centre to business founders outside of Caerphilly, in order to ensure more people across the region have a route to support.

Formerly an events and business development manager, Lesley will be responsible for bringing the guidance and benefits of ICE to communities across the South Wales Valleys - areas that have traditionally struggled to access support.

Having previously run her own business internationally exporting hand-made teddy bears, Lesley was a Big Idea’s Wales Young Ambassador and Role Model as well as being a board member for the Women’s Enterprise Hub.

Jamie McGowan, campus director at Welsh ICE said: “ICE has always been open to anyone across Wales, but naturally, that doesn’t mean it’s always practical for people to get to the campus.

“In Lesley, we have someone with the experience and perspective of a business founder, someone who has been there and done it and is now looking to help others start up. She’s also a genuinely warm and welcoming person and I have no doubt that she is only going to continue to grow into the outreach role.”

Lesley, who has already hit the ground running after securing 5to9 clubs in Ebbw Vale and Merthyr, said: “We’ve already begun to take ICE on tour and I’ve been blown away by the response so far. In just a few weeks we’ve engaged with 16 potential business founders, which shows there really is an appetite for grass-roots support.

“There’s so much potential and talent in the valleys region, but often it has to go elsewhere, like Cardiff or London, to be realised. I think everyone is aware of the challenges the area faces, and the only way to tackle them is to start building things. Whether that’s a cake making business that eventually employs three people or a furniture manufacturer who exports all over the world, it’s time there was a place for our bright sparks to shine.”