Experts in Conversation

Venturefest Oxford’s Experts in Conversation articles are dedicated to giving businesses a voice to converse about an area of their expertise to further our objective of supporting the innovation ecosystem in Oxfordshire.

Using Artificial Intelligence in Recruitment

Using Artificial Intelligence in Recruitment

The hiring process is a critical gateway to economic opportunity, determining who can access meaningful employment and who can achieve financial success. READ MORE

The new Milk-Round: if students all want jobs in start-ups these days, how do you attract and retain them?

The new Milk-Round: if students all want jobs in start-ups these days, how do you attract and retain them?

Oxford University runs many careers fairs annually where established organisations present their graduate programmes, to attract the 3,000 people who leave the university each year. READ MORE

The UK Ageing Society – the opportunity for business is right now

The UK Ageing Society – the opportunity for business is right now

Nearly one in three workers in the UK are aged 50 or over. How can we take advantage of the knowledge and skills of older people, and how do we enable our employees to age well at work? READ MORE

The Oxford Trust: Accelerating Growth

The Oxford Trust: Accelerating Growth

Looking for support to develop your science and tech start-up? The Oxford Trust can help. READ MORE

Is there a perfect place to locate a business?

Is there a perfect place to locate a business?

If you run an innovative company you’re probably looking at more than price per square foot to ensure your business doesn’t just take the next step, but the next staircase. You may find some of the elements that successful entrepreneurs that I speak to require of the wider ecosystem useful to consider: Funding: As a start-up, funding and support are essential, so do look for business incubation, accelerators, grant funding bodies, as well as venture capital funds. Talent: If you are a rapidly growing company, you are going to need to recruit people, so consider whether there are skilled people nearby and check that re-locating staff will want to live in the surrounding environment. Remember that it’s unlikely that 100 clones of yourself will make the best business, so look for diversity in the broadest possible sense. Facilities: If your business needs testing capabilities for hardware or software, it is worth considering how far those facilities are from your office. As the orders ramp up you will need to spend more time travelling to use the facilities so chose a location nearby. Customers: Every business needs to grow and to do that it needs orders, so look at the location in terms of potential customers and whether there are on-site networking events to help you meet them. Collaborators: Innovation often requires partnering with others, particularly as a small business as you can’t possibly do or know everything. Build a partnership and deliver a great product rather than settling for a mediocre one. Before you sign on the dotted line, consider who in the area you may want to collaborate with. Oxfordshire is rich with opportunities for entrepreneurs from all sectors and there are several locations that offer all of the above. Harwell Campus is one of these. Why? Well, I’ll use the example of the Harwell Space Cluster, which includes 80 organisations employing 800 people and spans start-ups to multinationals. For funding, there are Venture Capitalists and grant giving agencies such as the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency (including its Business Incubation Centre). Networking is an essential part of Campus life with events such as the Satellite Applications Catapult’s Satucinno (yes, cappuccino with satellite shaped sprinkles on). Testing and validation facilities provided by the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s RAL Space, which enables companies to shake, bake and build bits of kit to go into space. The Campus’s other Clusters in Life Sciences and Energy create opportunities for diversification into new markets. The exceptional quality of people at the Campus will be demonstrated by the two all-female Space panel sessions at Venturefest Oxford. If you want to hear more about the opportunities that Harwell Campus could offer you please do get in touch: [email protected] READ MORE

Mastering your pitch

Mastering your pitch

This guidance seeks to develop your confidence in pitching to investors by helping you to avoid the pitfalls and mistakes often heard and seen in business pitches and encourage you to think in the mind-set of a lender or investor. There are typically 3 different types of business pitch: The Introduction or “One-liner” The Elevator Pitch The Investment Pitch Having the knowledge and ability to deliver a well-rehearsed and natural pitch in different scenarios can be an invaluable asset and one that is often overlooked by entrepreneurs. You should always make sure you clearly cover the key points below in all your communications: What problem are you solving and how does your product or service solve it? How do you take your product/service to market and how will it make money? What’s in it for an investor? Why should they invest? The introduction or “One-liner” A short introduction and/or elevator pitch will often be required in various situations which may not necessarily relate to raising finance, for example at a networking event. Although the shortest in length, ideally one or two sentences maximum, an effective introduction is often the hardest one to get right and it can affect your chances of making that important great first impression. Top Tip: Have a number of introduction 'scripts' ready for different scenarios, e.g. networking, sales meetings, exhibitions, etc. Elevator Pitch The name Elevator pitch reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver a summary of your business during an elevator ride from one level to another, typically a duration of no more than 1-2 minutes. It positions the scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important to your business in the elevator and if the conversation inside the elevator in those few minutes is interesting and engaging, the conversation will either continue after the elevator ride, or end in exchange of contact details and a follow up action. Top Tip: Remember the following structure; problem – solution – benefits. Investment Pitch At this point, you have successfully introduced your business, delivered your elevator pitch and you have now have been asked to present your business to an interested investor or panel of investors at a formal meeting. You now need to bring your business to life and provide further detail on it as a rewarding investment opportunity. The key areas an investor will expect to learn about your business in your pitch are: Business overview Product/Service Target market Management team Financial information Funding Requirement Exit Top Tip: Your business is about far more than what you are selling; investors want to understand how your business makes money, not just how the product/service works. An investment pitch should be supported by further detail within a documented business plan, which can be provided to interested investors after the pitch. It is also good to have a one-two page summary of your business available as a handout during or after your pitch too. If you’re thinking about raising investment for your business and would like to understand your options, visit our website here for more information or get in touch to speak to our team today on 08081 722350 or drop us an email on: [email protected] and quote Venturefest. READ MORE

The crucial role of Theory of Mind (ToM) capabilities in developing a next generation, human-centric artificial intelligence

The crucial role of Theory of Mind (ToM) capabilities in developing a next generation, human-centric artificial intelligence

Emerging applications of artificial intelligence (AI) are raising awareness of the limitations of established machine learning (ML) approaches in situations in which humans are involved. Smart cars, for instance, need to make reliable predictions about human behaviour in real time, e.g. in order to pre-emptively adjust speed and course to cope with a group of children’s possible decision to suddenly cross the road in front of them. To date, the automated recognition of present behaviour builds on the recent successes of deep learning (a technique based on artificial neural networks with an increased number of layers) to efficiently identify motion patterns in the available streaming videos. Motion patterns, however, can be deceiving, as humans can suddenly change their mind based on their own internal mental dynamics and things they spot in the scene (e.g., children seeing an ice cream van on the other side of the road). Intriguingly, humans are capable of making reliable predictions of future behaviour even when no motion is present, just by quickly assessing the ‘type’ of person they are looking at (e.g. an elderly person standing in a hallway is likely to take the elevator rather than the stairs). Theory of Mind (ToM) capabilities, i.e., the ability to ‘read’ other agent’s mental states, are crucial to develop a next generation, human-centric artificial intelligence. In a mutually beneficial process, computational models developed within AI may provide new insight on the way these mechanisms work in the human brain. Within cognitive neuroscience, the theory-theory paradigm argues in favour of the existence of a set of rules humans possess regarding human mind functioning. The simulation-theory view defends, instead, a simulation process consisting of taking someone else’s perspective to understand their reasoning. The simulation standpoint, we argue, has the potential to bring together machine learning and neuroscience in a radically new approach to the problem. A fruitful cross-fertilisation of neuroscience and machine learning can enable significant advances in both fields, by allowing both the formulation of computational theory of mind models in humans leveraging current frontier efforts in AI, and the development of machine theory of mind models informed by the most recent neuroscientific evidence, capable of going beyond simple pattern recognition for prediction in complex, human-centred scenarios. ‘Belief-desire-intention’ models are so far the dominant approach in computational ToM. However, as they lack the ability to learn from past experiences, such methods have been subject to much criticism. In opposition, composable deep networks have the potential to provide solid foundations for a simulation-theory approach. The reasoning of various classes of complex agents can be flexibly simulated by dynamically rearranging the topology of the connections among a base set of neural modules. The way the simulation adapts to agent class and scene is learned from experience via reinforcement learning. Successful machine Theory of Mind models would lay the foundations for the creation, among others, of autonomous vehicles able to negotiate complex road situations involving humans. Next-generation robotic assistant surgeons can be envisaged with the ability to understand what the main surgeon is doing and foresee their future intentions. Empathic robotic healthcare tools would become possible, as well as a new generation of ‘bots’ (e.g. for customer service or financial advice) able to interact more effectively and empathetically with humans. Research in this area would also impact on the current debate on moral AI, helping machines make ethical, human-like decisions in critical situations. READ MORE

Ethical Artificial Intelligence in Business

Ethical Artificial Intelligence in Business

Artificial intelligence (AI) and the data economy together form one of the four grand challenges in the UK Industrial Strategy. Many, if not most, companies are now using AI systems in their daily operations and business processes including, for example, HR function (talent acquisition, employee engagement), customer relations, business intelligence, logistics, and supply chain. The increasing commercial interest in the area has led to a deepening awareness that AI raises some serious ethical and business risk issues. For example, many AI-based HR systems for talent acquisition use machine learning to make initial shortlists of applicants using the data from previous recruitment campaigns. However, this will tend to lead to the selection of predominate stereotypes based on historical precedents, exposing the company to the risk of creating an unbalanced workforce, possibly incurring severe brand damage and potentially breaching equality law. Many similar issues have been identified over recent years including AI-based medical systems designed around Caucasian health and life styles, adverts appearing next to inappropriate content on social media and databases for image recognition systems that are racially biased. In addition to these recognised issues, it is highly likely there are other currently unidentified issues from the deployment of AI systems that could emerge many years after implementation, potentially causing brand damage and increased legal risk. Once these issues come to light, they could be difficult and very expensive to correct as the AI system concerned is likely to have become deeply embedded in the company’s IT architecture. All of these potential risks can reduce business confidence and trust in AI systems. The business community has started to get to grips with these issues, seeking to introduce standards and regulations that minimise the risk of deploying AI based business solutions. At Oxford Brookes University, we are seeking to support businesses in this endeavour, helping them to understand and plan for both the opportunities and the risks that AI technology presents. We are particularly interested in exploring how AI systems can embody the values of an organisation and operate within its brand. To this end, the university is bringing together a diverse group of world-leading experts who together blend knowledge and skills from technology, business, social science and the life sciences. We seek to offer expertise in areas that include AI and machine learning, psychology, business development, economics and accounting, marketing, gender based law, equality and diversity, coaching and mentoring, digital health and wellbeing. This support can be given to businesses in a number of ways including consultancy, contract research, CPD and training, funded PhD studentships, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (Innovate UK), and research projects funded by Innovate UK, the research councils and various charities. Come and visit our stand at Venturefest Oxford 2018 where we can discuss these opportunities with you. READ MORE

Software as a Medical Device – the development process demystified

Software as a Medical Device – the development process demystified

Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) is software intended to be used for one or more medical purposes without being part of a hardware medical device. Previously referred to as ‘standalone software’, ‘medical device software’ or ‘health software’, SaMD can be used across a broad range of technology platforms, including medical device platforms, commercial off-the-shelf platforms and virtual networks, and its use is increasing. If you are new to SaMD, a natural question is, “How do I get my medical software CE-marked (for sale in Europe) or FDA-approved (for sale in the US)?” And it is likely that you will be frustrated by the answers, because no one will give you the process to follow. Instead, regulators define constraints on the development process, such as traceability, and leave the details up to you. For a start-up, this is a difficult situation to navigate. But there is help out there. The International Medical Device Regulators Forum (IMDRF)  is a voluntary group of medical device regulators from around the world who have come together to reach harmonisation on medical device regulation. They have written an easy-to-read guide to medical software development and the only one we have seen that includes illustrative examples, using both a large company and a start-up. If you are a start-up building a medical device, go to their document online and search for “Parva” to see the examples relating to this fictional start-up company. Note that medical device software development can follow either Agile or iterative methodologies, provided that the process is traceable, evidenced and includes risk management. This usually implies a process by which product, safety and clinical requirements are translated through functional specification and development tasks into software, and in which the results are tested, verified and validated – and the results recorded. The process often uses a traditional ‘V-model’ to distinguish distinct levels of software development and testing. This is a model which describes increasingly detailed software design and the corresponding level of testing. The {design, test} pairs are (in order of increasing detail): Development tests are the lowest level, automated and run very frequently. At the highest level, validation is a manual process of checking with users that the product built meets the requirements. Note that we use the V-model to provide our terminology, but we do not interpret it as requiring a waterfall approach to software development. OCC has been developing software for research, health, engineering and social services for over 25 years. If you’d like to know about the intricacies of developing software for medical devices or other applications, contact [email protected] READ MORE

Spin-Outs and Start-Ups: Common Pitfalls – Don’t Forget the Research & Development Tax Credit

Spin-Outs and Start-Ups: Common Pitfalls – Don’t Forget the Research & Development Tax Credit

Research and Development tax credits are a valuable company tax relief that can reduce a company’s tax bill, or, for some, provide a cash repayment, of up to just over one-third of the company’s R&D spend. A company must be carrying on a project seeking an advance in science or technology, through the resolution of uncertainty.  The allowable expenditure includes four main areas – staff costs, subcontractors, software and consumable items. The company must qualify as an SME to obtain this very generous relief (headcount below 500 staff and at least one of; turnover below €100 million or gross assets less than €86 million). There is less generous scheme, known as RDEC, available to companies which do not qualify as SMEs.  The RDEC is a taxable receipt, and is paid net of tax to companies with no corporation tax liability.  The rate was recently increased from 11% to 12%, effective from 1 January 2018.  The net cash benefit is 9.7%, (the 12% rate reduced by the corporation tax rate, currently 19%). Where grants are received for an R&D project, there can be restrictions on what claims can be made under the SME scheme, depending on the type of grant.  If this is the case, you should still be able to claim via the RDEC scheme.  This is quite a complex area and it is best to get advice in advance. Make sure you don’t miss out on these valuable reliefs.  Speak to us for specialist R&D advice. Alison READ MORE

The Importance of Encryption

The Importance of Encryption

Names such as WannaCry, Petya and NotPetya have become all too familiar as those within the enterprise and public sector suffered business disruption at the hands of cybercriminals and ransomware. When WannaCry struck, disruption was wide and swift. According to NHS England, more than 81 NHS trusts were affected, with some even turning of devices and shutting down computers as a precaution. With a further 603 primary care organisations also reporting disruption, there were said to have been nearly 20,000 cancelled appointments, with 600 GP surgeries returning to pen and paper and five hospitals simply diverting ambulances as they were unable to handle any more emergency cases. Although that ransomware attack was stopped within a matter of days, reports suggested more than 300,000 computers across 150 countries had been affected. WannaCry was also significant in being the first ‘ransomworm’ the world had seen – a self-replicating piece of malware that bounces from computer to computer in much the same way that diseases in the real world do, feeding and growing off the best-connected computers. Indeed, WannaCry was a necessary wake-up call in many respects. Particularly when experts revealed the number of ‘unpatched’ IT systems stood somewhere in the region of 40m. Although this represents just one aspect of policing the perimeter it really does put into perspective just how much firms must think about when it comes to securing the business today and that’s before considering how you manage and police mobile devices and IT assets. After all, it’s not just those on the outside you need to consider. This is forcing businesses to strategically look at and reconsider their approach to IT security with a fresh pair of eyes. Factor in regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and most have their hands more than full. It can all appear very daunting even to the most seasoned of professionals and is certainly one reason many firms are now looking to trusted partners for help and in some cases secure outsourced solutions. Imagine being able to forget about certain elements of this by using secure encryption and modular services that protect your devices before they even boot up? What about encrypting both these and hard disks right down to individual folders and segments of data? Wouldn’t it also be wonderful if you could do this via a centralised management system that ensures seamless integration with existing IT infrastructure and meets the FIPS 140-2 security standard for full disk encryption; a certified mark of quality expected by security experts the world over? Imagine being able to produce a report at the click of a button, demonstrating your organisation’s compliance with the GDPR. It’s easier than you think and with the correct encryption solutions deployed across the business, you can deliver measurable improvements to your bottom line whilst at the same time being able to reassure customers that they are taking the correct precautions when it comes to customer data and compliance. READ MORE

2018 Changes to SEIS and EIS

2018 Changes to SEIS and EIS

The government is getting stricter with SEIS and EIS tax relief. Here are the changes you need to know about – 1.     HMRC are no longer processing speculative applications Due to the highly lucrative investment opportunity that is SEIS and EIS, start-ups were able to attract angel investors by obtaining Advance Assurance from HMRC which confirms that investment in the company would be eligible to receive tax relief. As a result of the popularity, HMRC found that processing applications was taking in excess of 8 weeks. More importantly, they found that despite the rise in applications, only a minority resulted in shares being issued. As a result, as of this year (2018), HMRC will only process Advance Assurance applications where names and addresses of potential investors are provided. They may also request evidence of the potential investors such as letters which demonstrate engagement and interest. 2.     There is now a new requirement – Risk to Capital HMRC are cracking down on artificial investments. This is when investors are able to take advantage of the generous tax relief without having to truly put their money at risk. HMRC refers to this as “preservation of capital”. To ensure that SEIS and EIS incentivises investments in genuine entrepreneurial companies, a new two-part test will be applied to applications: firstly, the company will need to demonstrate its intentions for future growth and development; and secondly, that there is real potential for loss of capital which is greater than the net investment return. 3.     Overcome challenges with a concrete business plan If you’re a start-up looking to find funding through SEIS or EIS, alarm bells may be ringing at this point. How are you meant to convince angel investors without Advance Assurance, and how do you get Advance Assurance without the names of interested investors? In reality, it’s not such a conundrum. The solution lies in your business plan. This is now requested over a pitch deck or business overview from HMRC, which is a third change to the original SEIS/EIS application process. Approach investors with a robust business plan to build confidence in your company. We would recommend including thorough research into the market and your competitors, in addition to well-calculated financial forecasts. Your business plan will also help you demonstrate how you meet the requirements for risk to capital. You should ensure to include information on how you plan to grow your business, your objectives for growth (such as using the investment to hire new employees, or to produce more products to sell or to be able to ship globally etc.) and highlight areas where the investment is at risk. Ridgefield Consulting specialises in SEIS and EIS. From providing the calculations for your business plan, to writing your application for Advance Assurance and setting up the shares for investors, we can provide a comprehensive service to support the growth of your venture. Visit our website www.ridgefieldconsulting.co.uk or call for a free introductory consultation on 01865 24 55 11. READ MORE

Running a lean business

Running a lean business

Sometimes, it’s the things you don’t do that make the real difference. I’ve been working in website design and development for nearly twenty years. I’m not a designer, but I’ve learned a lot from working with great designers over many years. Of the things I’ve learned, probably the most important is that it’s the things you leave out that make the difference! It’s the space between things, the discipline to do less - not more, the confidence to give a design space to breathe that makes it come alive. Little did I realise how relevant this lesson would be to our brand new company. We’ve spent the last year bootstrapping a business - from nothing at all, we’re now a stable and successful design and website development agency. Like most businesses, we started out with very little - we each invested a paltry amount of money - enough to register the company, buy some domain names and licence a few pieces of software. We began to run the business from our home offices or kitchen tables and cracked on, thinking that the usual rules of corporate growth would apply. However, over this last year it’s become clear to all of us that the simple necessity of starting with little and keeping costs down has become a massive virtue. Obviously, it won’t be a surprise to anybody that cost control is good business practice, but it’s come as a welcome surprise to us all just how liberating it can be to start, run and grow a lean business. When we started we thought that working from home would be a temporary thing - something that’d let us get up and running and keep us solvent until we could afford an office. As we weren’t all in one place, we had to find creative ways of working together efficiently. We invested a small amount in commercial google services - giving us company email, scheduling, document creation and management. We also implemented the absolutely incredible google team drive. Like Dropbox, but better and cheaper, team drive gives us seamless and limitless file sharing (ok, I exaggerate - our team drive is limited to 1 exabyte, but that should keep us going for a little while…) We’ve found that WhatsApp and our Amazon Echos are amazingly useful productivity tools, giving us messaging and IP voice calls for free. We’ve found and built an incredibly efficient set of development tools, allowing us to deliver projects quickly and easily without having to re-do things we’ve done a million times before. This means that our clients only end up paying for the stuff that matters to them - they’re not paying for us to reinvent wheels. We set up a virtual landline, directing inbound calls to our mobiles in a virtual hunt group. We use appear.in for video conferencing and sometimes also for client meetings - it’s slick, quick, reliable and free. We have a virtual office, supplied by our great friends at OXIN. This gives us a physical address and improves our performance in natural search. We thought that all of these would be temporary - quick fixes to get us up and running and help us generate enough revenue to become a “real” company. But over the year, our thoughts have changed. It’s become clear to us that this isn’t just an expedient way to run a company - it’s a brilliant way to run one: By building a company that contains only the essentials - people who do work that generates revenue - we’ve dramatically reduced the cost and risk of running our business. We can do more work for less money which means our customers get more for their money. By building a company that’s distributed we don’t have all the costs and overheads that flow from running an office. From the obvious ones like rent and rates to the less obvious ones like buying computers and furniture (we’ve already got our own, so equipping an office would be wasteful duplication). Working this way has now become a pleasure. The lack of an office isn’t something we regret - it’s something we value. Being able to work efficiently, comfortably and cost-effectively has become one of the central pillars of our business, and one that we find liberating. Because our costs are low we can give ourselves the time to be creative - we can give all our work the consideration it deserves, rather than be constantly driven by the need to raise the money to fund a huge cost base. We’ve found that leaving things out can be a hugely positive decision. So, little did we think that by setting up our business we’d use a lesson we learned in design - having the courage to leave something out can be the difference between average and awesome! READ MORE

Technology and growth – friends or foe?

Technology and growth – friends or foe?

In 2018, UK businesses could leave up to £72.5billion of untapped growth on the table. Companies need to become purpose-driven, invested in top-line growth, tech confident and networked to unlock their growth potential. In the South East alone, this translates to £10billion, measured as GVA. Our research, Planning for Growth, also unveiled a sustainable high-growth group of businesses that nationally achieved 20% or more in growth in 2017 – and sustained growth for the past three years. These Growth Generators are almost five times more likely to be achieving their one-to-two-year growth targets than the rest of the market. And they are also nearly 10 times more likely to reach their targets than low-to-no growth companies. On top of this financial performance, Growth Generators share a growth mindset based on four key characteristics: purpose-driven invested in top-line growth and willing to seek external funding and engage in M&A activity tech confident networked However, with the rate of expansion at its lowest since 2012 – 1.7% in 2017 – what is holding back growth in the private sector? Technology acceleration and disruption have become the new norm. So it’s not surprising that our research found many UK businesses rank technology not only as their number one accelerator (37%), but also their number one barrier (38%) to growth. However, only 55% of business leaders who chose technology as an accelerator believe their leadership team has the ability to harness it as a tool for growth, and only same percent believe their leadership have the ability to overcome technology as a barrier. Given this large capability gap, it’s no wonder technology is also cited as the top investment area for all businesses. With only 29% of Growth Generators ranking technology as one of their top five barriers to growth, and the average business having technology as their top investment area, it’s clear business leaders are ready to unleash the potential that technology holds. And of those that did select it as a barrier to growth, 63% were confident in their ability to overcome it. Oxford-based Wendy Hart, partner in our technology team, says: “The first companies in a market to tech-enable their businesses tend to be disruptive and see an uplift in their perceived value. For management, a clear understanding of what it is they’re seeking to achieve through the application of technology, be it back-office or customer-facing systems, will help ensure a clear brief to technology vendors and consultants and reduces the risk of expensive mistakes. Seeing technology as a core part of the business strategy and not a cost centre is a first step in embracing its potential to unlock growth, and one which can pay dividends.” For a business pursuing ambitious growth plans, technical agility is crucial to future-proof for tomorrow’s needs. Consider how your technology decisions may affect your business in the future, how your technology model affects the market value of your business, and your solution’s ability to grow with you. Even in uncertain times, private sector companies have a large degree of control over their own destiny. Ambitiously thinking like Growth Generators is key to unlocking the full growth potential of the UK economy. Read more at grantthornton.co.uk/en/insights/growth Any queries, please contact Sarah-Beth Hutchins READ MORE

How a cyber attack can kill a startup business overnight!

How a cyber attack can kill a startup business overnight!

“Startups are incredibly vulnerable to cyber-attacks in their first 18 months. If a business thinks that it’s too small to matter to cybercriminals, then it’s fooling itself with a false sense of security.” – Brian Burch, Symantec Cybercrime is becoming a day to day reality for all businesses, however startups can be especially vulnerable for a number of reasons. New businesses usually have a long list of competing priorities and security rarely makes it to the top of that priority list. The fallout from some form of cyber-attack can be a financial loss, reputational damage, or loss of intellectual property.  To any business these can be damaging, embarrassing and costly, but to a startup they can be fatal.  Financial losses tend to have a more significant impact on new smaller businesses.  Reputational loss can be even harder to recover from as it takes time to regain customer confidence, if you are left with a toxic brand the business may never recover.  Many startups are based on a unique idea or product, if that product or concept is stolen or copied, the projected market may become smaller, less profitable or even uncompetitive. One of the biggest myths in Information security is that it has to be complex, expensive and restrictive, however when done properly it should not be. If good information security practices are embedded in a business from the start, they simply become part of the culture, evolve with it and protect the information assets from the start.  If your startup beats the odds and survives its infancy without a major incident, trying to retrofit the same principles at a later date can become more expensive, more complex, distracts from other core activities and in some cases simply fails. Protecting your business against attack involves managing risk, and in most cases involves identifying those risks and implementing simple common-sense practices to mitigate those risks.  However, if all that seems a little daunting, do not be afraid to get some advice.  At CQR we pride ourselves on building long term relationships by providing the right advice at the right time to help your business protect its information assets and enable your business to grow in a safer world. READ MORE

 

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