Developing a marketing and communications strategy for Tech Valleys

Freshwater led a consortium of specialist agencies to design and implement a programme of research and insight development, to inform the future investment and communications approach for the Welsh Government Tech Valleys initiative.


Tech Valleys is a ten-year Welsh Government (WG) investment programme designed to support the creation of 1,500 jobs while helping to make Blaenau Gwent, and the wider South Wales Valleys, a globally recognised centre for the development of new technologies to support cutting edge industry. Freshwater was commissioned, alongside economic research agency Hatch Regeneris and inward investment specialist Breeze Strategy, to develop a positioning and marketing strategy for the programme.


Freshwater brought together a team of research, marketing and inward investment specialists to complete a deep dive into the inward investment proposition for the region covered by the Tech Valleys initiative. The overall aim of the project was to put the region on a trajectory from “struggling to recover from the demise of heavy industry” to “a globally recognised centre for the development of new technologies”.

The team devised a multi-faceted approach, which involved delivering a databank of evidence through detailed economic research, stakeholder insight through a series of in-depth interviews, a comparator analysis of similarly placed regions, audience mapping and developing a vision and supporting communications strategy for the programme. The team worked with the Tech Valleys Steering Group to design and implement our approach.

The evidence bank was collated and displayed through a virtual ‘dashboard’ using Microsoft’s PowerBI platform, allowing members of the Steering Group and other key partners to access the data in a user-friendly format. It covered four key areas; the business ecosystem (e.g. formation, productivity, average earnings, investment, export, etc.); the talent pipeline; place elements (house prices, connectivity, travel, schools, etc.) and an analysis of the performance and potential of several key sectors.

The stakeholder insight and comparator review added further insight, including into the inward investment strategies and approaches being adopted by different regions, and informed the subsequent Visioning Workshop that Freshwater facilitated. A combination of the research findings and the workshop discussion fed into a communications strategy and recommendations report, as well as a core narrative document for the programme.


In-depth interviews with key stakeholders


Regions featured in a detailed competitor analysis


Key communications recommendations


The project created a clear, targeted and accessible databank of evidence that will be used to inform key investment and communications decisions over the life of the Tech Valleys programme. This research confirmed the validity of some existing target sectors but also highlighted additional opportunities for the region.

Insight from our stakeholders and the comparator area analysis also highlighted some new opportunities and areas of focus. Multiple areas for focus were agreed upon by the Steering Group including the importance of collaboration between public and private sector partners, investment criteria and the need for an effective online presence and ‘always-on’ communications activity.

The Project Finalisation Report provided strategic direction and a 10-point plan for core communications activity. The plan – which included the development of a dedicated and effective communications resource, implementation of a stakeholder engagement programme and a plan to utilise recent success stories to stimulate local ambition – was approved by the Tech Valleys Steering Group in March 2020.