Cloud technology is key to making charities fit for the future

New research from Advanced has revealed that many charities in the UK are not properly prepared for the digital era. According to the Advanced Trends Report 2017, 65% of charities use Cloud-based technology, yet nearly one in four (26%) do not have access to real-time data and 40% do not have the right tools to do their job effectively.

The British software and services company believes charities will be held back if they don’t embrace the Cloud at the heart of their operations and use it to run core functions such as donor interactions and financial management.

“Charities are under immense pressure – they need to be communicating closely with donors, efficiently and effectively, to maintain and grow revenues. This is coupled with the challenges of having the right digital technology so that staff can streamline administrative tasks, to save costs and allow them to invest more time in the people that matter – supporters, members and stakeholders,” said Mark Dewell, Managing Director – Commercial and Third Sector, at Advanced. “But the reality is that charities need to have the confidence to embrace Cloud technology fully, to ensure they can transform into digital-first organisations. This will ensure they are fit for the future, ready for real and present challenges around GDPR and better prepared to address threats such as cyber security.”

Advanced is using the Cloud to help charities move forward in the digital era. It has accelerated its plans to deliver a new Cloud-first strategy. It has introduced CloudDonor, an intuitive donor relationship management system, to help charities process fundraising income, build marketing campaigns and manage merchandising and Gift Aid for example – this includes all the core elements of fundraising management. Its web-based portals provide information for both staff and donors which is accessible at all times, from one source.

This adds to Advanced’s portfolio of Software-as-a-Service solutions, such as Advanced Business Cloud Essentials, which incorporates financial management to ensure charities have a unified view of their financial affairs.

Allen Reid, Director of Client Projects at Hart Square – an independent not-for-profit consultancy – concludes: “It’s fair to say that charities know the time is ripe for transformation as the digital era impacts every aspect of life – for members, supporters and stake-holders, as well as staff. But not-for-profits want to be confident they are making the right technology choices. Getting on board with Cloud technology is without doubt the right choice for many charities wanting to harness the value of their data to drive engagement whilst ensuring the change process is successful – we’re definitely big advocates for moving to the Cloud.”

Disruptive technologies and changing demographics are fueling the growth of the life sciences sector

Pricing pressures and regulatory changes have always ensured that life sciences businesses operate in a world of uncertainty, but highly disruptive technologies, new technology-driven business models and changing demographics mean the sector is very well positioned for future growth, no matter how healthcare reform or issues around cost and pricing play out.

In fact, according to some forecasts the global life sciences sector will grow by $400 billion within the next five to six years.

From wearable healthcare devices to electronic medical records, and from predictive analytics to bioinformatics, digital technologies are already beginning to disrupt the global life sciences sector – and fuel its growth.

An ageing population, a growing middle-class and the growing burden of chronic diseases will also play a key role in the growth of the sector, while precision medicine and contract development & manufacturing will create a paradigm shift away from broad therapies and towards highly targeted therapies.

Life sciences in the UK

Recognising the sector’s enormous growth potential, both in the UK and globally, the British government recently announced that one of the first ‘Sector Deals’ to be created as part of its Industrial Strategy would be for the country’s life sciences sector.

There are already more than 5,700 life sciences companies in the UK, employing over 233,000 people with a combined annual turnover of around £64 billion, but the British government recognises that the sector has much more room to grow, particularly given the UK’s ageing population and the digital technologies that are set to fuel the sector’s growth.

The Life Sciences Sector Deal is designed to support that growth, by establishing a strategic and long-term partnership between the life sciences sector and public sector organisations, including the NHS.

Leading Edge Healthcare Challenge

In addition, the UK government recently revealed that it plans to commit £146 million over the next four years to the Leading Edge Healthcare Challenge, which is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and is designed to support the development of technologies and the creation of new facilities for the manufacture of innovative medicines.

New life sciences clusters

Finally, the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, a report to the UK government from the UK’s life sciences sector, has called on the government to support the creation of a series of new life sciences clusters throughout the country, which could help create new opportunities for collaboration in addition to attracting additional inward investment.

Leading the way in life sciences

It seems clear that the life sciences sector is destined for substantial growth in the years ahead, both globally and in the UK. However, the ‘disruptive technologies’ that will help fuel this growth will also do as their name suggests – they will cause a lot of disruption. For executives that want to futureproof their businesses the key is putting together the right leadership teams – and a firm like Miramar Executive Search Consultants has the experience and the global reach to help make that happen. Get in touch if you’d like to discuss how we can help.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul Marks is a Partner at Miramar, a firm of executive search consultants with global reach and an impressive track record of success with high profile clients. Paul leads the firm’s technology division, where he specialises in supporting tech companies that are focused on the Internet of Things, Machine to Machine, Digital Transformation and Cloud Services.

Inspire212 urges small businesses to implement 5 ‘Must Haves’ for business success

With most businesses failing in the first five years, Inspire212 urges all business owners to ensure they have these five things in place now.

The British economy relies on small businesses for success, and they bring jobs and innovation to the market. Inspire212 is an established sales and marketing specialist, and they are urging business owners to maximise their chances of success by implementing their five must-haves for young businesses:

1. Mentors – Mentors are guides who assist in educating, offering advice and supporting entrepreneurs and businesses. By enrolling a mentor, a company or individual can benefit from their experience and wisdom of the industry, they could also identify opportunities for businesses to trade that may have otherwise been overlooked.

2. Google – Google is the first point of call for billions of worldwide shoppers, by using the popular platform businesses can communicate, trade, advertise and source solutions in seconds. Drafting of experts on SEO can boost online capabilities of a company, and the outlay often offers an ROI and frees up the time to focus on areas of expertise.

3. A team – Drafting in talent can increase productivity and create further business opportunities through the business being able to function more efficiently. Entrepreneurship can be lonely at the start, and a team can help produce a new idea, boost network reach, and create diversity which can boost capabilities within any industry.

4. A thick skin – Businesses will experience a whole bunch of No’s, by shrugging each one off and moving onto the next prospect the business will be able to grow. Those without a thick skin can internalise negative feeling and will destine their business for failure. Be confident in the company and its ability to succeed and don’t take any criticism personally, Live, Learn and adapt.

5. Purpose – Understand why a market needs the business, find the customer demographic, and stand strong beside the company values and work hard to make it a success. Purpose offers motivation to share the mission of the brand with all to boost the integrity of the company.

Inspire212, offer their support to developing entrepreneurs, their goal is to boost understanding encourage innovation in marketing and support the business dreams of those who may otherwise lack support and guidance. The firm has experienced great success to date and is looking forward to creating more opportunities throughout 2018.

TechCityUK goes national, with £21 million to create 11 new tech hubs across the UK

The UK’s world-leading tech sector will go from strength-to-strength after plans unveiled today set out a £21m investment to create a new national network of regional tech hubs in areas across the country, including Cardiff.

Today (15 Nov) the Government announced that Tech City UK and Tech North are to become a national organisation, Tech Nation, to speed up the growth of the UK’s pioneering and innovative digital companies and clusters, helping spread the benefits even further.

Successful companies which have benefitted from Tech City UK’s work include Just Eat, Zoopla and Funding Circle.

Building on the organisation’s work helping to turn London’s Silicon Roundabout into a globally recognised tech hub, the funding will see the new Tech Nation work alongside existing tech partners and business organisations to accelerate the expansion already underway by rolling out its tech-hub model.

As part of the plans, Tech City UK will give more than 40,000 people the opportunity to develop the skills needed to start or grow a digital business and will offer support for up to 4,000 UK tech businesses through targeted growth programmes.

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said: “This is fantastic news for South Wales’ already thriving tech sector. The digital sector has become an integral part of the Welsh economy and the rapid growth of many digital businesses across the country has confirmed our position as a hub of technological excellence.

“Today’s announcement seals South Wales’ place as a regional centre of technology excellence, and the UK Government is committed to ensuring the continued growth of this sector across the country.”

Minister for Digital, Matt Hancock, said: “This new funding is an important part of our plans to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business, with the benefits spread right across the country.

“This regional network will accelerate the growth of the digital tech sector, cement the pipeline of talent and spark the next generation of innovative firms to seize the future opportunities of digitisation – bringing jobs, skills and higher productivity to our regions.”

Eleven regional hubs will form the backbone of a national network of digital excellence to reflect the country’s standing as a global powerhouse for tech industries and help the Government achieve aims outlined in the Industrial and Digital Strategies.

The funding will also help entrepreneurs in emerging tech sectors, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Fintech, by connecting them to peers and potential investors in other hubs across the country and by offering tailored development programmes.

Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK (soon to be Tech Nation), said: “We are thrilled the Government is backing our model which has played an important role in helping the country’s tech firms accelerate their growth.

“Tech Nation will help transform the UK from a series of standalone tech clusters into a powerful national network that will reinforce the UK’s position at the top of global tech rankings.

“This will ensure we continue to be at the forefront of digital innovation, developing tech talent and attracting international investment.”

Eileen Burbidge, Chair of Tech City UK (soon to be Tech Nation), said: “We are delighted to hear that the Government wants to increase Tech City UK’s funding for the next four years.

“Under the Tech Nation banner, this country that has brought so much innovation to the world and leads in sub-sectors such as fintech, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, robotics and life sciences will build a national network of digital excellence so that the UK will continue to be recognised as one of the best places in the world to start or grow a digital tech business.”

Britain is already a global tech powerhouse and the Government is determined to see that continue. More than 1.4 million people work in the UK’s digital tech sector and jobs are being created at twice the rate of other sectors in the economy.

Average advertised salaries are £50,000, 30 per cent higher than the national average. The sector has a turnover of more than £118 billion and figures on foreign investment published in July found in the first half of 2017 there was a record £5.6 billion investment in tech in the UK.

In the face of international competition for this high-value employment industry, Tech Nation will help the UK accelerate the growth of the tech sector.

Successful Tech North programmes such as Founders Network and Northern Stars will be extended nationally, and existing national programmes such as Future Fifty and Upscale will be strengthened.

David Buttress, Partner at 83North and former CEO and co-founder of Just Eat, a Future Fifty alumni company, said: “Tech City UK and the Future Fifty programme have given fast-growing companies like ours a great opportunity to learn from our peers and exchange ideas.

“They have also enabled us to get our voice heard in government, so that we can give our point of view on the way our working world is changing. That will continue to be extremely important for all emerging tech sectors.”

Samir Desai, Funding Circle, a Future Fifty alumni company, said: “Tech City UK has been an excellent advocate for the tech sector, understanding the needs of start-ups and scaling businesses and representing this coherently to Government. The programme they deliver is comprehensive and has supported us across a range of issues and business priorities.”

The first set of hubs to form Tech Nation will be located in:

Wales – Cardiff
Midlands – Birmingham
Scotland – Edinburgh and Glasgow
Northern Ireland – Belfast
Greater London – London

CMA clears Just Eat’s acquisition of Hungryhouse

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has cleared Just Eat’s acquisition of Hungryhouse, following an in-depth phase 2 investigation.

A group of independent panel members has found that the merger of Just Eat plc (Just Eat) and Hungryhouse Holdings Limited (Hungryhouse) does not raise competition concerns.

Just Eat and Hungryhouse are web-based food ordering platforms in the UK. They give restaurants the opportunity to reach a wider pool of people, as well as offer consumers the convenience of choosing from a large range of takeaway providers in one place.

As first indicated in the provisional findings, the group found that Hungryhouse presently provides limited competition to Just Eat because it is much smaller in size and offers too few unique restaurants. This makes it increasingly difficult for Hungryhouse to attract and retain consumers.

Furthermore, it found that the industry is evolving rapidly following the entry of platforms such as Deliveroo, UberEATS and Amazon, which also manage or facilitate delivery services on behalf of restaurants. These companies generally present a greater competitive challenge to Just Eat than Hungryhouse, and this is likely to grow as they expand.

In reaching its final conclusion, the group also took account of the fact that some customers may order directly from takeaway restaurants, either by telephone, through their websites or by walking in.

All information relating to this merger inquiry can be found on the case page.

YO! Sushi acquires Bento Sushi for CA$100 million

YO! Sushi, the iconic Japanese restaurant group, has announced the acquisition of Bento Sushi, North America’s second largest sushi brand, creating a global multi-channel and multi brand sushi platform. The acquisition values Bento at CA$100 million and has been facilitated by Mayfair Equity Partners, who partnered with the YO! management team as part of a management buyout in 2015.

Bento, founded in Toronto in 1996 by Ken Valvur, is the second largest sushi brand in North America, and the largest in Canada trading from over 600 locations, whilst supplying sushi to a further 1700 partner sites. Bento operates across a range of formats which complement YO!’s existing proposition. These include quick service restaurants, on-site kiosks in supermarkets and other food service locations, and a number of production facilities which supply sushi to grocery and institutional food service clients across North America. The business has achieved strong growth, delivering compound annual sales growth of 16% in the last three years. Bento and its licensees employ over 2000 highly trained sushi chefs and serve more than 20 million sushi portions every year. Bento’s success has been driven by Ken Valvur and Glenn Brown, Bento’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer respectively, and as part of the deal they join the Board of YO! and become significant shareholders in the combined group.

With YO!’s international restaurant network across Europe, the Middle East and Australia, the combined business becomes one of the largest sushi companies outside Japan, providing an international, multi-brand, multi-channel offering, well placed to benefit from the continuing increase in consumer interest in healthy, provenance-rich foods. The acquisition will create synergies and enable the continued growth of both businesses, particularly in the US market. The combined businesses have recorded sales of approximately £175 million over the last twelve months.

The acquisition of Bento comes after two transformational years for YO!, in which Mayfair Equity Partners bought into the business and Robin Rowland returned to the role of CEO. Following a renewed focus on the brand, product, and people, including the appointment of several senior team hires, the business has seen like-for-like sales growth of +5% over the past 18 months. Eight new sites opened in the UK this year, as well as the Group’s first sites in Manhattan, Paris and Sydney.

Robin Rowland, Chief Executive Officer of YO!, commented: “We’ve successfully reinvigorated the business over the last two years to ensure the foundations are in place for long term growth. This acquisition takes YO! into the next stage of its development, and creates the first global multi-channel Japanese food purveyor. Bento’s proposition and its management team’s strong track record make it the ideal partner for YO! as we look to further grow our brand.”

Glenn Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Bento Sushi, stated: “This partnership presents Bento with an incredible opportunity to grow its platform. YO! and Bento share a similar ethos and history, and we look forward to working with the YO! team and taking advantage of opportunities to develop both brands.”

Ken Valvur, Chairman of Bento Sushi, added: “The combination of YO! and Bento will further enhance our group’s ability to be the partner of choice for grocery and institutional food service providers throughout our enlarged operating geography, and creates exciting opportunities for our valued team members on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Beauty brand to make a retail first with male-only makeup store in the UK

The UK is set for a retail-focused equality of the sexes, as beauty brand MMUK MAN unveil plans to open their first male-only makeup store in Brighton early next year. Making high-street history, the brand that launched just five years ago has seen a huge rise in the number of gentlemen wishing to experiment with cosmetics, such as foundation, concealer and BB cream.

Back in August, MMUK celebrated their launch at online fashion giants ASOS, who now stock twelve of their core products. With makeup counters specifically for men predicted to arrive within five years by L’Oreal boss Vismay Sharma, the Brighton based company look set to further steal a march over its competitors and shift the plate tectonics of male beauty, far quicker than any of us could have anticipated.

‘Opening our first bricks-and-mortar store is a symbol of how modern day men are fine tuning their grooming needs and are no longer worried about the perceived taboo surrounding them wearing makeup’ said Lucy Atkinson, a company spokesperson. ‘This major development is indicative of how the landscape of beauty is rapidly evolving.’

Self-proclaimed men’s makeup junkie Gianni Casagrande is one of thousands of men across the country, quickly coming to realise that a little touch up can go long way in the bathroom. ‘There is definitely still a stigma around men’s make-up, but I think it’s becoming more normal now’ the social media strategist and beauty blogger told the BBC last week. ‘A lot more of my friends are wearing it, both gay and straight – it makes you feel a lot more comfortable and confident.’

The store itself will have a contemporary and urban feel to it, similar to that of capital based men’s grooming retailer BEAST. Including makeup booths, where gentlemen can be shown by MMUK’s makeup artists, how to apply different products and discover their correct shades – the store will seek to create a friendly and relaxed atmosphere for the modern man to truly indulge.

“The availability of male beauty products in physical stores is an emerging opportunity that beauty manufacturers worldwide should tap into and will gain traction, particularly as the social barriers to wearing cosmetics and make-up among men continue to break down.” said Global Data’s consumer analyst Lia Neophytou.

Graduate game developers win UK government grants

Some of the UK’s most talented young games developers were today awarded grants that could help take their creations into millions of homes.

Mochi Mode from Cardiff (University of South Wales) and Shuttershade Studios from Huddersfield (University of Huddersfield) are the winners of Tranzfuser, a graduate talent competition funded by the Government’s UK Games Fund, that saw startup video game studios from across the country battling it out for grants.

The two winning teams, both receiving £25,000, have joined the prestigious portfolio of professional games development studios working with the UK Games Fund community.

Matt Hancock, Creative Industries Minister, said:

The UK games industry is a fantastic success story and we want to see it continue to grow from strength to strength. The Tranzfuser programme is aimed at identifying and supporting the talented young games developers and the original and innovative games they are producing right here in the UK.

Last year’s Tranzfuser alumni went on to publish their own game and I wish this year’s winners the same success in turning their creativity into a reality for us all to enjoy.

Over the summer, Tranzfuser tasked 23 teams with just ten weeks to take their idea for a great game from concept to playable demo to be showcased in front of 80,000 games fans and a panel of expert judges at the UK’s most popular video games festival, EGX. The teams developed all manner of fun and innovative games, from single-player puzzles to multiplayer room-scale Virtual Reality experiences.

Awarded a grant of £5,000 from UKGF, the teams developed their games with invaluable support provided by a nationwide network of Tranzfuser Local Hubs based at some of the best universities for video game design and development.

Mochi Mode wowed the judges and public alike with their game of bright visuals and simple one touch gameplay that sees players controlling a herd of cows. The setting changes to different locations across the Wild West but the goal is the same: players must guide the herd to safety through a host of colourful obstacles in this fun arcade game.

Laura Wells, Team Leader at Mochi Mode said:

After graduating, it’s tough to know what steps will help you ‘breakthrough’ into the games industry. That was especially true for us with the aspiration to start up our own studio. Tranzfuser has given us guidance at a crucial point of our development. Most importantly, it has allowed us to make a little magic!

Shuttershade Studios is a team of graduates from the University of Huddersfield. The small group of four individuals created a virtual reality game, VR Party Ware, primarily consisting of a collection of various minigames. Players can compete globally through an online leader board system or locally with their own friends in a casual competitive environment.

Marcus Nichols from Shuttershade Studios said:

Winning Tranzfuser has had a life changing effect on both me and the entire Shuttershade Studios team. We’re now able to do our dream jobs which is to have very little sleep but to have a tonne of fun developing our own video games. It’s the most varied job that we’ve all had and we wouldn’t change it for the world.

New for 2017 is the Tranzfuser Accelerator, a unique programme where the runner-up teams from the competition receive tailor-made consultancy packages to give them the best chance of successfully applying to the UK Games Fund.

The UK Games Fund and Tranzfuser are both funded as part of the £4m UK Government programme of games development and talent funding announced in 2016, run by UK Games Talent and Finance Community Interest Company (UKGTF).

Paul Durrant, UKGTF’s founder, said:

All of the teams worked hard after securing their place on Tranzfuser 2017. Each of the 23 teams has put in a huge effort and each has benefitted significantly from real-world learning throughout. The winning teams are the ones that best managed the scope of their projects, had a shared creative objective across the team and better understood the target audience for their particular games.

UK-based social enterprise asks tech companies to donate unneeded laptops to the homeless, a local social enterprise offering technology services and cloud storage to businesses in the UK, is appealing to the public and other local companies to ask for donations of old laptop computers so that they can be refurbished and given to people struggling with homelessness.

Peter Paduh, the founder of, has set a goal of collecting 1,000 laptops by the year 2020, which will be distributed by homelessness charity Thames Reach to its clients so they can get their lives back on track. Those served by Thames Reach are currently unable to take part in activities many individuals take for granted, such as applying for jobs online and keeping in touch with family and friends through the Internet.

The Laptops for Homeless support initiative is a part of’s overall goal of
donating used, unneeded IT equipment to those in the community who need extra support.

So far, 150 refurbished laptops have already been donated to Thames Reach through this program. Paduh says of the program, “It’s about bettering our communities and societies by taking the laptops some view as no longer needed and giving them to the people who need them the most.”

Jeremy Swain, the CEO of Thames Reach, explains the benefits of the program: “These laptops will give the homeless and marginalised people who receive them the opportunity to communicate with friends and relatives, develop new interests, and access advice to improve their skills and employment prospects.”

Businesses that wish to make a laptop donation should begin by completing the form on

The UK is ahead of the curve in China investment strategy

The UK is shifting its investment into inner regions of China and into new sectors, ahead of the curve of other nations, according to the CBI’s first ever Sterling Assets China report.

In 2016, the UK was China’s second largest trading partner in the European Union (behind only Germany) and the eighth worldwide, doing £55 billion worth of trade in goods with China. Indeed, after the USA and Germany it is the only country in the list of China’s top nine trading partners not in the Asia Pacific region.

The UK also ranks eighth in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) into China over the last decade, at £4 billion. However, unlike other nations, Great Britain is shifting its focus from coastal to inland provinces, which have historically received a smaller share of FDI, so as to mirror the Chinese government’s Belt and Road development plans. Over half (57%) of British investment in 2015 (over £880 million) went to inland regions, led by Heilongjiang (£313 million) in the north east and Henan (£276 million) in the centre.

Of the £18.1 billion worth of UK exports to China in 2015, Shanghai tops the list (£4.2 billion), followed by Beijing (£2.4 billion) and Guangdong (£1.3 billion). 21% of British exports to China were in transport technology (automotive, rail, air and maritime), 12% in machinery & electrical, 8% in chemical products and 5% in metals. The UK’s top service export was travel (£1.5 billion), with 270,000 Chinese visiting the UK and 91,000 Chinese students enrolling in British universities – far more than from any other country.

Guy Dru Drury MBE, CBI Head of China, said:

“The Sino-British relationship is a great success story. As we delve deeper into the Golden Era of ties between China and the United Kingdom, we have so much to offer each other, and British business is keen to play its part.

“From cars to chemicals, and services to schools, British organisations – especially many smaller companies – are tapping into a growing market in China, one that plays to the UK’s best competitive strengths. With the consumer market worth over £3.3 trillion, instantly recognisable British products are a particularly strong match for a growing generation of affluent Chinese. Moreover, this relationship creates thousands of jobs in the UK and China, raising living standards and boosting productivity.

“As the UK forges a new global trading future, it is well ahead of the curve in making the most of its relationship with the world’s fastest growing economy. By making inroads into China’s lesser economically known regions, the UK stands to profit from China’s move from manufacturing and infrastructure into technology and services.”

Dame Barbara Woodward DCMG OBE, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, said:

“Supporting UK-based companies to invest and operate overseas and become global businesses is part of our strategy to expand mutually beneficial trading relationships around the world. This is especially so in China, the world’s second largest and fastest growing economy.

“This report showcases a wide range of British investment and highlights the strengths and growing confidence of British companies. Investment in China by British companies can generate wealth for the UK, support British jobs, help build UK-based supply chains, and support China’s own economic development.

“As we continue to address the challenges for businesses investing across the globe and help them to make the most of opportunities, positive and proactive engagement of UK and Chinese businesses remains vitally important.”

Between 2015 and 2016, greenfield project investment into China exceeded £2.25 billion. The financial services sector saw the highest value investments (£488 million), followed by logistics (£292 million), consumer products (£268 million) and business services (£209 million).

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