Innovation and the NHS

New report reveals an optimistic outlook for the National Health Service in 2030; if new knowledge is used to manage health


Nesta recently published a report, ‘The NHS in 2030: a people-powered and knowledge-powered health system’.

In the report the authors set out four axes of change within the Health service: “the promise of precision medicine, a health knowledge commons stretching beyond traditional actors, a system powered by more people and new kinds of relationships, and taking advantage of contemporary behavioural insights”. In short, change will be determined by using new knowledge and technology to drive patient led research and care, and encouraging people to manage their own health.

The key factor undermining change within the NHS therefore, is innovation and forward thinking. If you have an interest in working within the NHS in a non-clinical role, your ability to adapt to change, think innovatively, and use data to set standards and create initiatives, will be invaluable.

You can read the report here.

Learn to code and be a successful tech entrepreneur

Digital skills are increasingly in demand; knowing how to code is vital to your tech business


Britain will need 745,000 additional works with digital skills for continued economic growth. Great news for techies, but what about digitally illiterate entrepreneurs with a tech start up in mind?

Daniel Thompson believes not knowing code is a significant disadvantage to a tech start up. ‘Ideas guys’ can be dead weights, productivity can be affected if you are reliant on external experts, and as the use of apps and e-commerce is increasingly important, knowing at least basic code will allow you to think about your digital content and initiatives.

Do you know your HTML from your CSS? Heard of Java, C#, SQL?

Read more about the importance of coding to your tech start up here.

Photo by Alamy

Boosting the living standards of the self-employed

Report recommends new measures for protecting living standards of self-employed


A record 1 in 7 workers are now self employed, and the number of people working for themselves has grown by 40 per cent since 2000. Despite a number of measures introduced by the Coalition government, and proposals from opposition parties to support small businesses, the individual business owners are yet to be adequately protected in their own right.

The RSA recently released their findings and recommendations following a project to better understand how to improve the living standards of the self-employed, considering issues like earnings, pensions, mortgages and welfare. Self employment incurs risk and financial burden and those who work for themselves are vulnerable without access to statutory sick pay or statutory maternity pay, amongst other rights often taken for granted by employees.

Before future entrepreneurs and potential business owners are put off by reading the report, it isn’t all doom and gloom! The RSA found that on average the self employed are more satisfied with their work and life as opposed to employees and consequently we might argue the risks and pitfalls of self employment are outweighed by increased job satisfaction.

The RSA’s report can be accessed here: ‘Boosting the living standards of the self employed’ 

Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards 2015

Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards


What Can I Win?

The Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards offer a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the success of student and graduate entrepreneurs. Not only will the awards help secure cash investment to aid students with their ideas and businesses, but they will also provide the winners with valuable press coverage via the recognition received through this initiative. Winners will also then qualify for entry into the Santander Universities Enterprise Community programme.

The competition is open to students or recent graduates (within last two years), and entries can be from individuals or groups.

Undergrad prizes

  • 1st prize: £5,000
  • 2nd prize: £3,000
  • 3rd prize: £1,000

Postgrad prizes

  • 1st prize: £20,000
  • 2nd prize: £10,000
  • 3rd prize: £5,000

To enter you will need to submit a business plan by midday Monday 9th March.  The plans will then be shortlisted and evaluated by a panel and an entry for each category put forward to represent Lancaster University in the national competition .

Click here for more information: Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards Information Pack

All submissions should be emailed to



We must unleash the sharing economy to help drive living standards

Digital revolution allows people to rent far more goods than used to be possible, ensuring that they only pay for what they actually use.

The latest entrant to this booming market is BMW, which has just launched a joint venture with car rental company Sixt to bring the DriveNow car-sharing model to London from Germany. This will allow users to locate, unlock and start cars using a mobile phone app, then pay for them on a per minute basis, crucially eliminating any need for a central collect and return point. Unlike traditional airport car rentals, one-way journeys will be possible – though at the moment this will be limited to parking-spaces in three London boroughs. Read more.




It’s time to stop glamorising start-ups

The life of an entrepreneur is often seen as a whirl of glamour – all caffeine-fuelled late nights, glitzy product launches and awards dinners. The reality can be rather different..


It reckons Britain’s 4.9 million small business owners are spending more than 15 hours each week on admin tasks. That’s almost two full working days. Not so glamorous after all, especially when you think that this form-filling costs each small business £1,442 per week in lost productivity. To read more click here


Protecting 3D designs

The Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet caused a famous dispute between a designer and business owner. Photograph: Reuters/ Steve Marcus

The Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet caused a famous dispute between a designer and business owner. Photograph: Reuters/ Steve Marcus.

The Intellectual Property Act 2014 came into force this week to simplify the process for protecting 3D designs and put design rights on an even footing with copyright and trademark.

The Guardian’s Guy Wilmot explains what it means for small business:

‘The Intellectual Property Act 2014 came into force this week, and it has significant implications for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Design Rights

One of its objectives was to make the design rights system more user-friendly. Some of the most important changes in the act deal with design right protection. Design rights protect original 3D designs, which are not covered by copyright, trademarks or patents. They are particularly useful for creative industries in sectors such as furniture, home wares, packaging, footwear, architectural features and other 3D objects.

Any small business that has developed, or is promoting, a 3D design should think about design right protection. The recent Trunki case is a great example: if Trunki had not protected the design of its children’s suitcase with a design right it would have struggled to enforce intellectual property: trademarks would protect the Trunki brand, copyright would protect the surface design on the case and a patent might protect a unique technological feature (for example, a new locking mechanism) but only a design right would protect the shape of the case itself.

Design rights proceedings can be costly, and many small companies are keen to avoid throwing away good money on litigation, which is likely to be fruitless. A new service will be introduced giving parties a right to obtain a non-binding opinion from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). If a business has a registered design that is challenged as being unoriginal, then the business with the registered design can ask the IPO for its view before going to court.

Infringement of a registered design is now a criminal offence, bringing design rights into parity with copyright and trade marks. A small business that has a registered design will be able to report those who are producing or selling “knock-off” designs to the police, as well as pursuing its own action.

Another important change, and one that may set a trap for some businesses, is that when a business commissions a design from a third party, the designer will own the design right intellectual property (IP) rather than the business that has commissioned the work. A business that pays a designer (who is not an employee) to develop a product will not actually own the design unless this is specifically agreed.

Disputes between designers and owners do arise, the most famous recent example being over the Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet. Andrew Ainsworth, who was part of the original design team, sold reproduction helmets to the public and eventually prevailed over Lucasfilm when the supreme court of the UK agreed that the helmet was covered by design rights, which had expired, not by copyright.


Patent owners will be able to include a website address on patent pending or protected products rather than having to specify the patent number. The IPO will also have the power to revoke patents that are clearly invalid.

Thoughts for SMEs

For small businesses, the main issue is that ownership of IP in any commissioned work should be clearly agreed in writing in advance. The new act should bring into focus the importance of design rights, especially for SMEs. Designs are often overlooked in favour of the more well-known IP rights – trademarks, copyrights and patents.

Only a design right can effectively protect a 3D design. Unlike registration of a patent, which can sometimes be a lengthy and costly process, registration of a design right is usually relatively quick and inexpensive.’

Guy Wilmot is a partner in the corporate and commercial team at Russell-Cooke LLP



The Quickest Way to Deliver Your Message? Make It Visual

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Visualising your message is key according to Entrepreneur Magazine’s  Zhuram Zaman. Whether it’s connecting with customers, closing the deal with prospective clients, or promoting efficiency within your own operation, the quest to effectively cultivate and communicate your message is ongoing. One strategy that has recently gained traction is data visualization. Given today’s fast-paced, cut-to-the-chase world, this makes perfect sense. We want our information, we want it now and we don’t want to have to put much thought into digesting it.

The effectiveness of data visualization goes beyond our shrinking attention spans — it speaks to our biology, according to Noah Iliinsky, co-author of Designing Data Visualizations.

“Our visual system is extremely well built for visual analysis,” Iliinsky explains. “There’s a huge amount of data coming into your brain through your eyes. Once that data arrives at the brain, it’s rapidly processed by sophisticated software that’s extremely good at tasks such as edge detection, shape recognition and pattern matching.”

Related: Your Sneak Peak at the Future of Infographic Marketing

It is this pattern matching, Iliinsky notes, that makes presenting information visually so beneficial, as it helps us identify trends, gaps and outliers. In other words, it allows us to see the true meaning of the data.

For businesses, this begs the question: How do we best leverage the value of data visualization? Here are three recommendations:

Infographics: the storyteller. As defined by Mashable, a prominent tech website, infographics are “graphic visual representations of information, data, or knowledge” that “present complex information quickly and clearly.” Done well, it delivers your message by weaving together thorough research and compelling copy with an engaging design.

What makes infographics such an effective marketing tool is two-fold: First, by including SEO-friendly terms, they can drive new users to your website through increased search visibility. Second, because they can easily be shared on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, they have a tendency to go viral, which obviously extends your brand to a wider, untapped audience.

Dashboards: data central. Businesses generate large amounts of data on a day-to-day basis, from potential leads, to what products are selling best and the hours dedicated to each client. Making sense of that data can be a challenge. Spend a few minutes poring over endless spreadsheets or reading through an exhaustive report, and it can feel undeniably overwhelming.

This is where dashboards come in. A centralized command center that compiles all of your pertinent data, they make it easy to see what’s going on within your organization. Stephen Few, a leading user interface dashboard expert, explains it like this: “(a) dashboard is a visual display of the most important information needed to achieve one or more objectives, consolidated and arranged on a single screen so the information can be monitored at a glance.”

Businesses enter data into the back end of the dashboard, and the dashboard then processes and produces it in a way of your choosing — graphs, charts, tables, etc. — that best fits your needs.

Related: 5 Tricks to Producing Quality Content

The value that a well thought-out dashboard brings to your company is far-reaching. It gives you the means to easily analyze trends, which allows you to hone your marketing strategies, helping you to optimize sales and customer engagement. It takes the man hours that would previously have been devoted to sorting through acres of data and redirects them towards growing your brand. Simply put, dashboards rid your operation of any unnecessary waste, which, in turn, raises productivity, lowers costs and increases your bottom line.

Mobile apps: a match made in heaven. While infographics tell a good story quickly, and dashboards organize and display your data, mobile apps marry the two together. Designed with a focused flow to connect with all audiences, apps are a versatile interface for your business, giving users as much or as little detail as they desire.

For those who want to get a high-level view of your company, scrolling straight through an app from start to finish will give them what they are looking for. Working almost as an interactive infographic, successful apps utilize compelling copy and appealing visuals to construct a road map of sorts, communicating in broad terms to the user what you are about, what it is that you do and what you can do for them.

On the other hand, for those who wish to explore your brand a little deeper, taking advantage of the built-in stops along the way allows them to drill down and access additional documents, charts, graphs and other nuts-and-bolts data. It is in these sections of the app where you can show — instead of just telling — the true value you can provide.

Best of all, as the name suggests, mobile apps are, indeed, mobile. And once they are downloaded to a person’s tablet or smartphone, they can be accessed without an internet connection. This means that no matter where users go, your brand is always right there with them.

You can read more about start ups and business development Entrepreneur website or sign up for updates.

Self-employment boom: Good or bad?

Britain now has more people working for themselves than ever before.


As of the last quarter of 2013 some 4.3 million of us earn our own crust and are officially self-employed.

This represents a pretty stonking increase. Though there was a slight trend upwards for many years in the early to mid-2000s, the number of self-employed has increased by 573,000 since the recession of 2008-09 – a rise of 15%.

Interestingly, over 60% of this increase has actually taken place even more recently – from around the middle of 2011.

The net result is that a staggering one in seven of the workers in this country are now working for themselves.

It’s something that has passed relatively unnoticed but it is worth considering how much more negative the overall unemployment picture would have been had it not happened.

The HR professionals body the CIPD estimates that the rise in self-employment has compensated for around 40% of the loss in employee jobs.

Had that not happened we could have seen unemployment nudging three million, with unemployment for women, who represent more than half of the self-employment growth since the recession, taking the brunt of that.

And the trend shows no sign of abating – if anything it seems to be getting stronger.

Compared to a year ago the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says there are now 395,000 more people in employment overall.

Of that, some 273,000 are employees, i.e. people working for firms or public sector bodies. That means that some 150,000, or 38%, are self-employed.


By Lewis GoodallEconomics analyst, BBC News

Image courtesy Getty Images

Economic Outlook: The Freelancancers’ Perspective

The growing UK economy, improved public finances and resurgent credit markets are all positive signs for freelancers – but risks to this recovery remain.

PCG’s Economic Policy Adviser, Georgios Nikolaidis, reports on the economic outlook from a freelancers’ perspective, looking at recently published statistics from GDP growth figures to the state of the labour market, credit market, investment, trade and public finances to find out how they may affect independent professionals.

On the findings, Georgios Nikolaidis, said:

“For freelancers, the macro-economic outlook should instil confidence and allow them to continue making their unique contribution to the UK economy. Rapid improvements in the labour market and prevailing skills shortages in sectors dominated by independent professionals could mean more contracts and better rates.

“It’s important to consider though that policy-makers should not be complacent – sluggish business investment, a worsening balance of trade and stagnating productivity growth should provide an agenda for policy-makers in the months to come.

“However, while these caveats are important and need to be addressed, overarching positive sentiment and rising business confidence should propel growth in the near future.”

Read the full report here
View the source article here