Latest News

The latest news from Venturefest Oxford, the event and our partners.

Venturefest Oxford 2020 – What’s next?

Venturefest Oxford 2020 – What’s next?

It’s with great regret that we have decided to cancel Venturefest Oxford 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. READ MORE

Venturefest Oxford is still going strong after 21 years

Venturefest Oxford is still going strong after 21 years

Venturefest's main aim was to provide the space and opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors to network and collaborate. READ MORE

Taking our clients international by James Cowper Kreston

Taking our clients international by James Cowper Kreston

Whether you are exploring international markets for the first time, or have established operations, James Cowper Kreston can help guide you through the challenges and risks of trading internationally and maximise your opportunities. READ MORE

Innovation in physical products

Innovation in physical products

The journey of developing a physical hardware product and bringing it to market can be challenging. READ MORE

James Cowper Kreston in India

James Cowper Kreston in India

James Cowper Kreston’s film and media division have been busy working with production teams to help bring the latest blockbusters to the silver screen. READ MORE

Why China remains a smart business opportunity

Why China remains a smart business opportunity

These are complicated times, and relations between the UK and China are no exception. But amidst all the uncertainties, there are compelling opportunities in the Chinese market. READ MORE

Venturefest is just days away…

Venturefest is just days away…

There is still time to buy the ticket that will open up a day full of stimulation, interest and surprise! READ MORE

Improving workplace productivity by optimising the indoor environment

Improving workplace productivity by optimising the indoor environment

Productivity levels in the UK are known to lag behind those of other leading economies. READ MORE

When your customer is not your consumer: selling to the NHS

When your customer is not your consumer: selling to the NHS

Sitting around a table with a group of investors in healthcare innovations, nothing comes out more strongly than concern over a business model that primarily involves selling to the UK’s NHS. READ MORE

How Receiving State Aid Affects Your R&D Claim

How Receiving State Aid Affects Your R&D Claim

Whilst many mistakenly believe that you are unable to use both state aid and R&D tax credits, this common misconception stems from the fact that there are two forms of R&D tax credits available in the UK – SME R&D Tax Credits and Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC) for larger companies. READ MORE

The journey to software commercialisation

The journey to software commercialisation

Innovation often starts with early-stage software or an idea requiring software development. READ MORE

What you should be spending your R&D budget on next year

What you should be spending your R&D budget on next year

R&D tax credits are vital to any innovative company – they enable you to continue funding the development of your product, service or solution. READ MORE

Achieving local energy resilience through smart solar storage, sharing and trading

Achieving local energy resilience through smart solar storage, sharing and trading

With the pressing need to transition to a low carbon economy, planning and preparing for energy resilience[i] is becoming increasingly important in an energy system consisting of a significant proportion of decentralised renewable energy sources and a decarbonised power system. READ MORE

The Recruitment Process – Say No to Discrimination!

The Recruitment Process – Say No to Discrimination!

As an entrepreneur, building your business will probably mean employing staff, whether as workers, employees or contractors.   READ MORE

How to improve the UI of your product

How to improve the UI of your product

UI design plays a fundamental role in the overall quality of your end product. The UI not only  supports the UX work, it expands on it by bringing together concepts from interaction design, visual design, and information architecture. READ MORE

Employment status?

Employment status?

If you are starting a new business or scaling up your existing operations you will be keen to ensure that you are delivering what you envisaged. READ MORE

How UX can help your business grow

How UX can help your business grow

As UX designers, we have often been asked how UX benefits businesses. This article tries to address this fundamental question and demonstrates how UX design can equip businesses to gain customers and achieve growth. READ MORE

What you need to know about leasing a commercial property

What you need to know about leasing a commercial property

In the beginning serviced offices are a quick and easy solution, but once your business is off the ground and you are scaling-up, finding the right ‘space’ for your business to grow is imperative; getting it wrong can adversely affect your bottom line. READ MORE

Interview with Harrison Hall, Founder of OneCup and Winner of Pitching for Success 2018

Interview with Harrison Hall, Founder of OneCup and Winner of Pitching for Success 2018

Eliminating single use coffee cups with a ‘borrow a cup’ model. READ MORE

Finalists announced for the Trusts’s 2019 Enterprise Awards

Finalists announced for the Trusts’s 2019 Enterprise Awards

The judges for the Trust’s 2019 Enterprise Awards gathered on a hot July day at the new Wood Centre for Innovation at Stansfeld Park to select the finalists for our prestigious annual celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship. READ MORE

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

Two months to go! Time to get Networking!

Two months to go! Time to get Networking!

With only two months to go until Venturefest Oxford 2019, preparations are in full swing. Now is the perfect time to both buy your tickets and sign up for workshops and networking sessions. 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

Preparations are in full swing

Preparations are in full swing

With only two months to go until Venturefest Oxford 2019, preparations are in full swing.  Now is the perfect time to both buy your tickets and sign up for workshops and networking sessions! READ MORE

Programme Confirmed!

Programme Confirmed!

Following its successful event at Oxford Brookes last year, Venturefest is returning with an extended and attractive new programme in the hope of welcoming old and new friends to join them. READ MORE

The Oxford Trust Enterprise Awards – Apply Now!

The Oxford Trust Enterprise Awards – Apply Now!

Applications close: 28th June. Free to enter. Oxfordshire-based companies only. READ MORE

Media partnership with Business & Innovation Magazine

Media partnership with Business & Innovation Magazine

We're excited to announce a new media partnership with Business & Innovation Magazine. READ MORE

A new era for Venturefest Oxford

A new era for Venturefest Oxford

Venturefest Oxford has announced the appointment of Mike Foster to take over the Chair role vacated by Lynn Shepherd last December.  Mike is joining Venturefest as it celebrates 21 years of bringing together the county’s entrepreneurs, innovators and investors. “I am looking forward to the challenge” said Mike.  “Lynn is a tough act to follow, but I have some good ideas that should keep Venturefest thriving and growing into its third decade.”  Mike has recently been appointed Centre Director at Oxford Innovation. “I am excited by both roles,” he adds. “I can already see that they offer mutually beneficial opportunities.” The next Venturefest Oxford event will be held at Oxford Brookes University on 11th September 2019.  Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of the University and a long-standing member of the Venturefest Board is delighted it is returning to the Headington Campus following its successful event last year.  “We had an outstanding event last September, and I am very pleased the University will once again have the opportunity to showcase the entrepreneurial spirit that is so special to Oxfordshire” he added. Building on the success of last year, the 2019 Venturefest will focus on INWARD INVESTMENT AND OUTWARD GROWTH.  This will broaden the programme to include special sessions on three of the areas targeted by the new UK Research and Innovation body; USA, China and India.  UKRI seeks to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. Alongside this, there will be sessions around the four Grand Challenges identified by the UK Industrial Strategy; Artificial Intelligence & data, the Ageing Society, Clean Growth and Future Mobility.  There will of course be the usual high quality exhibition, innovation showcase and Pitching for Success competition. “Our programme has the potential to bring together business, government and many other organisations to showcase the strong contribution Oxfordshire is making towards tackling these grand challenges, improving people’s lives and the country’s productivity,” said Mike Foster. “We are busy looking for outstanding speakers and exhibitors to bring our programme to life.” Keep an eye out on our website and social media for more information! Tickets will go on sale in May 2019. For more information on the event, exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities, have a look at the Venturefest 2019 page. READ MORE

Chengdu International Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition

Chengdu International Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition

The Chengdu Talent Work Leading Group Office and Chengdu Human Resources and Social Security Bureau in partnership with International Technology Transfer Network (ITTN), successfully held the Chengdu International Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition in London in the Royal Albert Docks on 29 October 2018. As ITTN international committee member, GlobalTech IP also made a great contribution to this competition. The opening remarks by Jiang Sunan, Minister-Counsellor of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the UK (Chinese Embassy in London), Liang Boshu, General Representative of General Representative Office in the UK, Li Xi, Party Secretary, Chengdu Municipal Organisation Department, Jin Xiaoming, Former Director, Department of International Cooperation, MOST and Klaus Nielsen, Professor of Institutional Economics at University of London, Birkbeck put the spotlight on the crucial place technology innovation plays in both countries’ economies at the governmental, industrial, academic and institutional levels. London Newham Council is supporting the Chengdu authorities’ UK Talent incentive programmes aimed at identifying, developing and commercialising British technology companies in China. The leading technology businesses were selected from a broad range of industries in a four-stage evaluation process conducted both in the UK and China. The most innovative companies selected by the highly acclaimed British-Chinese jury presented their unique solutions in sustainable technologies and new energy, biotechnology, digital healthcare, artificial intelligence applications, software, creative industries, inclusive design, new materials, diagnostic and medical devices, waste reduction and financial technologies. Several members of the diverse group of honourees discussed exceptional programmes designed by the Chengdu government organisations, placing the Chengdu International Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition at the centre of conversation about joint collaborative research, development and commercialisation of new technological advances in both countries. The Chengdu Innovation and Entrepreneurship Environment Promotion section of the event saw presentations from Chengdu municipality, Tianfu New District, Chengdu High-Tech Zone and Wuhou District Committee leaders. Representatives of the leading business enterprises, research institutes, Universities and government agencies joined a working lunch with the leader of Chengdu authorities to discuss legislation and best practices in knowledge exchange and technology transfer in the UK and Chengdu in China. Judges from the leading UK’s Universities including Imperial College, Birkbeck, University of London, University of Essex and others, as well as business and investment specialists, evaluated the participating companies and their technologies to select the most promising developments. Through intelligent facilitating mechanisms built by the support network, existing industry databases and professional company-oriented business strategy advice, the Competition participants are now able to connect to the leading technology research facilities, access funding and development resources, and establish new trading enterprises in China and the world beyond. In addition to the technology showcase, a four-party Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Chengdu Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, ABP London, International Technology Transfer Network and GlobalTech IP to support the aspiration of the Chengdu government to build an effective UK Innovation and Investment platform to increase the quality and volume of effective cross-border innovative technology deals between Chengdu and the UK. Plans of creating an online platform to provide solid IP protection, technology evaluation and market access, as well as public and private investment have been outlined in the MoU and agreed on by all signees. The Competition winners were announced on the day: 1st Prize: Betalin Therapeutics 2nd Prize: Ambicare Health 3rd Prize: Wasware Limited & Unifi READ MORE

2018 China-UK Innovation & Entrepreneurship Competition: Call for Projects

2018 China-UK Innovation & Entrepreneurship Competition: Call for Projects

During the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the UK in October 2015, China and the UK released the declaration on Building a Strategic Partnership for the 21st Century, ushering in a “golden era” of commercial relations built on innovation partnerships. To help implement this joint declaration and increase the level of innovation exchanges, a China-UK Science and Technology Innovation Forum was convened during the 2017 China-UK People-to-People Exchange in London. The Premier of the State Council of China, Liu Yandong, together with Prince Andrew, Duke of York, witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on China-UK Innovation Cooperation, calling for the establishment of the China-UK Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition. This MoU was signed by the Chinese Minister of Science and Technology, Wang Zhigang, and the UK Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Joe Johnson. Chengdu Competition Overview Now in its second year, this competition selects and showcases outstanding examples of innovation from across both the UK and China, with a goal of fostering cross-border entrepreneurship. The competition targets high-tech startups looking to develop both the Chinese and UK markets. This year’s competition is hosted by the government of Chengdu in Sichuan province, the leading innovation city in China’s fast developing western region. Competition winners will be awarded cash prizes and roadshows/training in China. Competition Schedule (subject to change) Oct 7: Submission deadline (Project Form, Project Brief and slide deck) Extended to Oct 14 Oct 12: Semi-finalists announced Oct 15-19: China Business Plan training Oct 24: Semi-finalist submission deadline (China Business Plan and slides) Oct 28-29: Pitching competition in London for 30 projects Nov 2019: Awards ceremony and roadshow in Chengdu for 3 top projects Apr 2019: Roadshow & training in Shenzhen, China for all semi-finalists Project Areas Projects based on innovation and technology related to the following domains welcome: Agricultural technology & food security Artificial intelligence & big data Robotics, advanced manufacturing & logistics Software, internet of things & information technology Green innovation, new energy & sustainable development Comprehensive health & advanced medical treatment New vehicles, smart transportation, aviation & aerospace Contacts (Globaltech IP) UK: Kristina Rayko [email protected] 07908 172721 China: Peter Tensen [email protected] +86 15997438955 2018 Competition Process 1) Projects should submit a slide deck (pdf) and Project Brief in 2-5 pages describing the innovation / technology, IP, market, project status, team and funding. 2) Projects Briefs and slide decks must by submitted along with a completed project submission form by midnight Oct 7th to [email protected] - Deadline extended to October 14th.  3) Semi-finalists will prepare a short China Business Plan, covering market, competition, localisation, go-to-market plan and financing for China in 2-5 pages. 4) Globaltech IP will conduct China business plan training for semi-finalists during the week of Oct 15-19 to assist in the preparation of the China Business Plan. 5) Candidates must bear their own travel expenses for the 2-day semi-finals and finals to be held in London on Oct 28-29th. 6) During the semi-finals on Oct 28th, 30 projects will present to a panel of judges from both the UK and China. Pitches will be 10 minutes plus 5 minutes for Q&A. 7) During the finals on Oct 29th, 8 projects will present to a panel of judges plus a public audience, including Chengdu officials, investors and entrepreneurs. Final pitches will be 12 minutes plus 8 minutes for Q&A. Competition Criteria 1) Judges will include investors, industry & domain experts, innovation specialists, and successful entrepreneurs, from both the UK and China. 2) Projects will be judged on innovation, competitiveness, China business model and market analysis, and plan (development, market, financial). Teams will be scored on entrepreneurial experience, aptitude and China experience, including relevant R&D, industrialisation, business development, and management skills. 3) Products, technologies and related patents of the participating projects should be wholly owned by the companies, and not subject to IP disputes or controversy. Competition Awards 1) The top 3 projects will be selected on Oct 29th by a combination of judges’ scores and audience voting, including semi-finalists who did not progress to the finals. 2) The top 3 prizes will be £5000 for 1st, £3000 for 2nd, and £2000 for 3rd prize and winners will be invited to Chengdu, China to attend a special awards ceremony. 3) Prize winners and all finalists will also receive significant publicity, introduction to investment organisations in the UK and China, and free consultation on market development and project landing in China from Globaltech IP. 4) All project finalists and qualifying semi-finalists (who attend both days of the competition) will be eligible to attend the “China-UK Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase” in Shenzhen, China around April 2019. 5) All travel expenses to attend this event will be covered, and the programme will include investment roadshows, project matchmaking, and expert presentations on innovation policies, funding, and the Chinese entrepreneurship ecosystem. READ MORE

Venturefest celebrates 20 years in style!

Venturefest celebrates 20 years in style!

Visitors to Venturefest last week were treated to an exhilarating, informative and action-packed day.  It was celebrating its 20th anniversary at the newly opened buildings at Oxford Brookes University, an outstanding venue to showcase Oxfordshire’s innovative culture at its best. Outgoing Chair, Lynn Shepherd, said “I couldn’t be more delighted at the success of the event this year. Venturefest has been at the heart of our county’s innovation and entrepreneurial community for so long that we have to make sure we keep innovating ourselves to maintain interest and support.  I think we achieved that this year in so many ways!” Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes added “Venturefest was the first large-scale event we have hosted in the new buildings and I am extremely pleased at just how successful it was.  We were delighted to have the opportunity to showcase the innovative work that is being done here and are very proud of our strong partnerships with business and industry.” Students and staff from Brookes were on hand to show off that innovative work which included Artie the robot, The Formula Car, the Simbulance and the Geriatric Suit. Delegates were also able to look at the Cargo Pod, a driverless delivery vehicle supplied by RACE at Culham, a Prodrive Championship Car, and the work of ten new businesses from Harwell. [gallery columns="4" link="none" size="tactical-box-image" ids="eyJ1cmwiOiJodHRwczpcL1wvdmZveGZvcmQyMDE4LnN0YWdpbmcud3BlbmdpbmUuY29tXC93cC1jb250ZW50XC91cGxvYWRzXC8yMDE4XC8wOVwvcGxhc3RpY2dvbGRmaXNoLmNvXy51a185SzVBMjU1NC5qcGciLCJ0aXRsZSI6IkFydGllIHRoZSByb2JvdCIsImNhcHRpb24iOiIiLCJhbHQiOiIiLCJkZXNjcmlwdGlvbiI6IiJ9,eyJ1cmwiOiJodHRwczpcL1wvdmZveGZvcmQyMDE4LnN0YWdpbmcud3BlbmdpbmUuY29tXC93cC1jb250ZW50XC91cGxvYWRzXC8yMDE4XC8wOVwvcGxhc3RpY2dvbGRmaXNoLmNvXy51a185SzVBMjU2MC5qcGciLCJ0aXRsZSI6IkZvcm11bGEgU2ltdWxhdG9yIiwiY2FwdGlvbiI6IiIsImFsdCI6IiIsImRlc2NyaXB0aW9uIjoiIn0=,eyJ1cmwiOiJodHRwczpcL1wvdmZveGZvcmQyMDE4LnN0YWdpbmcud3BlbmdpbmUuY29tXC93cC1jb250ZW50XC91cGxvYWRzXC8yMDE4XC8wOVwvcGxhc3RpY2dvbGRmaXNoLmNvXy51a185SzVBMjY0MS5qcGciLCJ0aXRsZSI6InBsYXN0aWNnb2xkZmlzaC5jby51a185SzVBMjY0MSIsImNhcHRpb24iOiIiLCJhbHQiOiIiLCJkZXNjcmlwdGlvbiI6IiJ9,eyJ1cmwiOiJodHRwczpcL1wvdmZveGZvcmQyMDE4LnN0YWdpbmcud3BlbmdpbmUuY29tXC93cC1jb250ZW50XC91cGxvYWRzXC8yMDE4XC8wOVwvcGxhc3RpY2dvbGRmaXNoLmNvXy51a185SzVBMjU2Ni5qcGciLCJ0aXRsZSI6IlNpbWJ1bGFuY2UiLCJjYXB0aW9uIjoiIiwiYWx0IjoiIiwiZGVzY3JpcHRpb24iOiIifQ=="] The theme this year was a very focused one, looking at just four sectors in more detail than previous years.  Every session was full as people clamored to learn about the technologies and applications of quantum computers, space satellites, autonomous vehicles and digital health. The closing panel debate looked at the challenges and opportunities of these sectors, lending a dose of reality and business sense to the heightened excitement of the day. As usual, the delegates were there to network and meet like-minded people.  Throughout the day, the long-running Pitching for Success competition took place where twenty new businesses pitched their ideas to a panel of local investors.  The overall winner was One-Cup - a young business set up just a few months ago by Oxford Brookes graduate, Harrison Hall.  Organiser, Eileen Modral, Investment Manager at OION Ltd, said that “Harrison showed all the attributes of a successful entrepreneur particularly in his articulate and engaging pitch to the audience and I am sure he has a bright future ahead of him.” Lynn Shepherd and Alistair Fitt also hosted a large delegation of high-ranking officials from Nanjing in China where a new science and technology park has been created.  The Chinese party were keen to learn how Venturefest supports science and innovation and extended an invitation to bring Venturefest to Nanjing next year.  70 students from the Marlborough School were also keen to learn about the exciting ideas and innovation in Oxfordshire and left feeling very motivated and enthusiastic to see what they could achieve themselves. The event closed with the awards ceremony of the Enterprise Awards, hosted by The Oxford Trust.  The Awards recognise innovation and entrepreneurism at its best, as indeed does Venturefest. READ MORE

Graduate’s reusable coffee cup business wins funding at Venturefest Oxford

Graduate’s reusable coffee cup business wins funding at Venturefest Oxford

A recent graduate from Oxford Brookes won the Venturefest Oxford Pitching for Success competition with a cash prize of £1,000 including mentoring and support to scale his reusable coffee cup business. The University hosted Venturefest Oxford for the first time this week (12 September) with over 750 visitors on campus as the event celebrated its 20th anniversary. Venturefest Oxford is the county’s premier networking event for entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and other like-minded people. Its long-standing Pitching for Success competition offers young businesses the chance to pitch for funding, mentoring, linked together with informative discussions from investor panels. Harrison Hall graduated this year and studied Construction Project Management in the University’s School of the Built Environment. His start-up business, OneCup, aims to reverse the habit of single use disposable food/drink containers by replacing them with quality reusables at the point of need, starting with coffee cups. "I never expected to win against such well-established and highly technical companies. I was just happy to see it as a valuable learning experience on how to pitch to investors. Never even thinking I would win.." Harrison Hall, Graduate, Oxford Brookes University Earlier this year, Harrison received funding and mentoring from the Brookes Enterprise Support Programme to trial his idea at one of the University’s cafes. He has since developed his business plan to specifically focus on coffee consumers. This includes creating an app that will allow OneCup members to borrow reusable coffee cups at their point of use through their smartphones and creating a monthly membership cup-loaning scheme. Harrison competed against nine other businesses in the afternoon session at Venturefest. Speaking about his win he said: “I was recommended to apply by the Enterprise Support team at Brookes who offer me enterprise advice. I thought it was worth a go and I would learn a lot. “I never expected to win against such well-established and highly technical companies. I was just happy to see it as a valuable learning experience on how to pitch to investors. Never even thinking I would win. “The money will go into advertising and preparations for our launch next Friday at the University’s Fresher’s Fair. Every penny counts right now, so this will be an amazing help in giving our startup the best launch possible. “I have learnt to be brave, go big and believe in yourself. If you can show the audience you're passionate about what you are doing then they will be willing to listen to you. Making a joke always help too! You can find out more about Harrison’s business OneCup and the Pitching for Success competition on the Venturefest website. The Brookes Enterprise Support Programme provides funding and mentoring opportunities for business start-ups, social enterprises and entrepreneurial ideas. The programme is open to all students, staff and recent graduates. Image: Lynn Shepherd, Executive Chair of Venturefest Oxford and Oxford Brookes Graduate Harrison Hall, winner of the Pitching for Success Competition. READ MORE

Winners of the 2018 Enterprise Awards are…

Winners of the 2018 Enterprise Awards are…

A highlight of our year, The Oxford Trust 2018 Enterprise Awards went off with lots of entrepreneurial fizz and excitement at the new venue in The Terrace at Oxford Brookes on Wednesday, 12th September. Run in partnership with Venturefest Oxford, this year’s award ceremony was sponsored by Marks & Clerk and the individual awards by big names such as Barclays, Advanced Oxford and product design company Triteq. The winners of the four awards were announced to a packed room of local entrepreneurs, innovators, big business and key movers and shakers involved in science and tech in our region. First up was the Triteq Young Entrepreneur Award. CEO of Triteq, Angela Hobbs presented the award to 31 year-old Alexander Reip. Co-founder and CEO of Oxford nanoSystems, the company develops innovative coatings to improve two-phase heat transfer surfaces. These coatings can improve transfers up to an incredible 524 per cent and enable the production of cheaper, lighter and more efficient products that consume less fuel, limit environmental impact and reduce manufacturing costs. How cool is that! Alex said on winning his award: “I am very honoured to have received this award as there is such a high level of innovation happening in this area – so thank you to The Oxford Trust, Triteq, and all the judges. Growing OnS over the past few years has been a fantastic challenge and I certainly wouldn’t have got this far without the drive of my whole team”. Next on the stage was Eliot Forster, founding Chair of Advanced Oxford, to present Finance Director, Tim Cowper of Oxford Nanopore Technologies with the Breakthrough Technology Award. A deserved winner, Oxford Nanopore has developed the world’s first real-time portable DNA/RNA sequencing device.  Manufactured in Oxfordshire, the MinION is a long-read, low-cost device designed to bring easy biological analyses to anyone, whether in scientific research, education or real-world applications such as disease/pathogens surveillance, environmental monitoring, food chain surveillance, self-quantification or microgravity biology. On receiving his award, Tim said: “Thank you from all at Oxford Nanopore for the award. This evening reminds us of how much amazing innovation is coming out of Oxford. And, of course, the more innovation there is in the city, the more we can attract talent to Oxford, to support future growth”. The Barclays Award for Innovation went to ex-OCFI residents Consultant Connect for their innovative telecommunications system that enables GPs to obtain immediate, telephone-based advice from local NHS hospital consultants – allowing them to get expert advice in real time. Sixty-five per cent of GP calls made to consultants using the service avoid visits to hospitals which saves GPs, patients and hospitals time and money. Consultant Connect’s service has been adopted by over 50 CCGs in England and is helping over 2500 GP practices, covering a patient population of over 16 million. In March of this year, the company estimated that the service had saved the NHS over £10 million. Jonathan Patrick said: “We were delighted to be shortlisted for this Oxford Trust Award. The company’s first home was in the Trust-owned Oxford Centre for Innovation and we benefited from both the working space and the presence of other innovative start-ups in the neighbouring offices. The awards themselves are well known locally and, given all the talent there is in Oxford, being shortlisted felt like a real achievement. It’s been a great few years and, now winning this award feels like the icing on the cake”. And, finally, our very own Vice Chair Georgina Ferry presented The Oxford Trust Outstanding Achievement Award to Professor Sir John Bell for his outstanding contribution to Oxfordshire and the local science and tech ecosystem. We look forward to seeing these companies develop and grow as our previous winners – like Oxbotica, Immunocore and Adaptix. We’ll keep you posted… Article from: http://theoxfordtrust.co.uk/2018/09/12/winners-of-the-2018-enterprise-awards-are/ 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

Student entrepreneur selected for pitching competition at Venturefest

Student entrepreneur selected for pitching competition at Venturefest

A recent graduate from Oxford Brookes is hoping to secure funding in his reusable coffee cup business after being selected to pitch to an investor panel at Venturefest Oxford next week (12 September). Venturefest Oxford is the county’s premier networking event for entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and other like-minded people. It is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and is being hosted at Oxford Brookes University. Venturefest’s long-standing Pitching for Success competition offers young businesses the chance to pitch for funding, mentoring or even skills, linked together with informative discussions from investor panels. Harrison Hall graduated this year and studied Construction Project Management in the University’s School of the Built Environment. His start-up business, OneCup, aims to reverse the habit of single use disposable food/drink containers by replacing them with quality reusables at point of need, starting with coffee cups. Earlier this year Harrison received funding from the Brookes Enterprise Support Programme to trial his idea at one of the University’s cafes. He has since developed his business plan to specifically focus on coffee consumers. This includes creating an app that will allow OneCup members to borrow reusable coffee cups at their point of use through their smartphones and creating a monthly membership cup-loaning scheme. There are 20 local businesses taking part in the competition, with a cash prize of £1,000 up for grabs, plus a host of business support pacakges. Harry will be competing against nine other businesses in the afternoon session at Venturefest. Harrison said: “It’s a great feeling to be part of Venturefest Oxford, especially when being hosted at Oxford Brookes, as this is where my business idea first began.” “I’m looking forward to the Pitching for Success competition; if I am successful I will use the funding and guidance to help prove and refine the business model, then using the experts’ help and experience to expand into the Oxford area. “While at Oxford Brookes I’ve had much enthusiasm and encouragement to believe in myself and the business I want to create.” You can find out more about Harrison’s business OneCup and the others taking part in the Pitching for Success competition on the Venturefest website. The Brookes Enterprise Support Programme provides funding and mentoring opportunities for business start-ups, social enterprises and entrepreneurial ideas. The programme is open to all students, staff and recent graduates. Venturefest Oxford has four themes this year, focusing on technology sectors in Oxford that have the transformative potential for the local, UK and world economies: Digital health Quantum computing Space Autonomous vehicles The event, taking place at the University’s Headington Campus, will showcase the technologies, the application and the opportunities within these sectors and will engage big business and investors in celebrating the potential of the county. Oxford Brookes will be showcasing its research excellence with a number of exhibits and displays across the campus on the day. 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

Spin-Outs and Start-Ups: Common Pitfalls – Issue the Shares in the Right Order

Spin-Outs and Start-Ups: Common Pitfalls – Issue the Shares in the Right Order

There are some really quite surprising tax traps for the unwary when a new company is started up.  It is quite possible under certain circumstances for H M Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to argue that an individual subscribing for some shares has a monstrous tax bill, based on income or gains calculated by reference to a number far, far in excess of any cash which has changed hands.  Care and advice must be taken, very early on, to ensure that this does not happen. HMRC’s argument would be based on market values of shares and intellectual property.  Envisage a scenario in which founders and investors agree the following simple but perfectly plausible deal: Investor                      Investment         Shares Founder A                     £ 30,000               30,000 Founder B                     £ 30,000               30,000 Venture Capitalist       £ 1,000,000          40,000 If the founders subscribe for shares first, a “decent interval” is left, and then the VCs take up their shareholdings, all should be well.  However, if the VCs come in first, there will be a problem.  HMRC can justifiably argue that the shares are worth £25 each, as the VCs have just paid hard cash to this value.  So, the logic proceeds, the founders have each received shares worth £750,000 (30,000 x £25) for a mere £30,000.  They have each been “given” £720,000. HMRC will then go on to assert that this “payment” was for whatever – intellectual property, for example – the founders bring to the venture.  Such intellectual property would be the fruits of the founders’ labour and, it is one of the two great certainties in life, that if someone gets paid for doing some work, the taxman will want his cut!  The founders each receive a tax bill for about £324,000, being 45% of £720,000. We recommend getting advice early to avoid any pitfalls.  We are more than happy to give early stage advice, and in many cases this is free of charge. READ MORE

So you want your new website to ‘pop’!?!

So you want your new website to ‘pop’!?!

Building a successful website is not just something that is desirable, it is more-often-than-not critical for the success of your business. That’s why it’s so important to understand the different intellectual elements that will help to create a website that speaks to your clients, engages them in your story, and ultimately drives them to take the next step. As a successful design and digital agency, the team at Herd have years of experience planning, architecting, designing and building successful websites for many different sized clients, spread across numerous sectors. This experience has allowed us to understand the importance of key pieces of information within a project - those things that not only add value to the finished site but can also be the crucial factor that makes the website a success. Whether you plan on undertaking a new website project yourselves or using a specialist agency, we believe it’s vital to consider the following points: Purpose A website must have a clearly defined purpose. That sounds straightforward right? But you’d be surprised by the number of companies that simply ‘want a new website’. We think it’s critical to clearly define what you want the website to achieve - increase enquiries, provide new information, sell your product, grow a membership scheme? By understanding the purpose of the website you set a quantifiable direction for the project, you can create goals and objectives, and you can ensure the rest of your business is structured around supporting the things you want your website to achieve. Audience Your new website is not for you - it’s for your audience, your customers, your users. You need to completely understand what drives your audience to get involved with you. Most people generally act to make their lives better. Are they ultimately using your services, products or offering to save themselves time? To make more money? To help them achieve in the workplace? You need to identify these motivations if you’re going to be able to successfully communicate with them. Furthermore it’s vital to consider how they’ve heard of you, how should they find your website - by googling the topic? By a referral from an existing user or customer? You need to think about how much they know about you when they first hit your website. Key messages Hopefully, by this time, you have solid understanding of the purpose of the website, who your audiences are and what they want to achieve. It’s now time to create some key messages that will speak to them and encourage them to take the desired action. These don’t need to be (and most likely shouldn’t be) sales pitches about your products - it’s usually much better to talk about how you can help, what you believe in and why you do what you do. You need your audience to trust you and believe in you if you want to drive genuine engagement. Content A few specific examples aside, a website IS its content. Content isn’t a thing you add at the end - it’s the core, the point and the purpose of a site. You’d be surprised how often people forget this. It’s not uncommon for people to spend months debating the relative merits of a particular shade of purple or whether boxes should have rounded corners and then copy and paste vast chunks of unconsidered text into their site just before it’s due to go live. For your site to work well, the content has to be great. For your site to be awesome, the structure, design and functionality AND the content need to be thought of as a whole. Content structure There are many ways you can structure the content on your website. This should be a scientific process driven by the purpose of the website and the goals of your audience. As an example you might have a few different services that are tailored to slightly different segments of your audience. You’re then faced with a decision to segment your content based on audience type or by product, a decision that could hugely impact the success of your website. However, if you’ve done your ground work and have a solid understanding of the audiences it should be clear to you how they’d prefer to engage with your content. Do not make assumptions here and certainly don’t structure content around who will be updating the site or how your teams are structured in the office! Yes - it happens.... Design Making something look nice is a good first step - but there is SO much more to authentically good design than simply looking good. Your design has to communicate. It has to express your company personality and it has to speak to your audience. Consider it a visual approach to your key messages. Your design needs to complement your messaging and personality, it needs to signpost and visually prioritise appropriate content, and most importantly it needs to bring everything together to build trust. Whilst it’s possible to do all this yourselves, a good agency can tease out all this information, do the heavy thinking and the great design and development work necessary to create a successful website for you. We believe finding the right agency can exponentially increase the success of a project. Website projects do not need to be stressful - creating your new site should be a fun and engaging process where we can all learn from one another and produce fantastic results. For a period of time your agency will become your partner - you may even begin to look at them as colleagues and that’s great. When true collaboration happens you’ll get the best results 🙂 If you take away one thing from this, remember your website is not for you, it’s for your users. You might not like pink bananas, but if your audience do, give them pink bananas. READ MORE

Product acceptance in the health-care environment

Product acceptance in the health-care environment

Technology innovators in the health-care sector can benefit from the research and expertise of the Oxford Clinical Allied Technology and Trials Services Unit (OxCATTS) If you are a start-up company, you may often get lost in the processes required to have a product or idea accepted within the healthcare environment. In the current transition phase from European Medical Device Directives to European Medical Device Regulations some processes and requirements may be hard to navigate alone. A clinical trial unit (CTU) can help to ensure that the research meets these requirements and support in the design, conduct, analysis, and report of the study. Focussing on research in technology innovation (including traditional trials, innovative designs and clinical audits) aligns with Government and LEP strategies. The Government have identified key Grand Challenges for global strength and importantly targeted local strengths that include AI and High Performance Computing, the local UK Biobank, and interaction between genes and environment. There is also a strategy to develop further key capabilities, emerging technologies and distinctive advantages from cybersecurity. A key aim is to harness and the power of innovation to meet the needs of the ageing society including technologies, services, and products to help older citizens lead independent, fulfilled lives.  Local, national, and international technology innovation can be supported by experienced, high-quality, research-active, and professional services staff at all career levels through smaller, flexible operational models which can create more research opportunities and keep down costs. The OxCATTS team are happy to discuss trial and service needs in a friendly and flexible environment. READ MORE

PNO on the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

PNO on the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is part of the governments long-term strategy to increase funding in research and development by £4.7 billion over the next 4 years. As part of the governments industrial strategy, it is aimed at strengthening UK science and business in order to raise the productivity and earning power of the UK in a vastly expanding global marketplace. This strategy was implemented to invest in world leading research and highly innovative businesses which address key industrial and societal challenges that affect the UK directly or have market potential on a global scale. To identify key challenges which affect the UK, the government has worked directly with businesses and academics and identified 15 core research areas where the UK has a current world-leading research base and businesses ready to innovate or where there is a large or fast growing sustainable global market. These calls build upon the funding received 6 challenges in the first wave in which £1 billion was allocated toward areas including AI and Robotic Systems, Next Generation Materials and Electric Vehicle Battery development. The 15 core challenges in the next wave are completely aligned with the Industrial Strategies Grand Challenges of Artificial Intelligence and Data, Ageing Society, Clean Growth and Future of Mobility. The fifteen core challenges are listed below. Each of the fifteen calls has a specific budget with some having totals that including matching from industry, Universities or the Private Sector. [caption id="attachment_36283" align="alignright" width="420"] Table 1. The budget for each of the 15 core challenges within the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.[/caption] Transforming Construction National Satellite Test Facility Creative Industries Clusters Next Generation Services Manufacturing and Future Materials Driverless Cars Prospering form the Energy Revolution Faraday Battery Challenge Audience of the Future From Data to Early Diagnosis and Precision Medicine Healthy Ageing Leading-edge Healthcare Quantum Technologies Robots for a Safer World Transforming Food Production The total budget for the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is currently up to £1.3 billion with an extra £291 million available through match funding on the Transforming Construction and Creative Industries Clusters calls. For more information regarding Innovate UK’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and other funding opportunities across the national and European landscape, come and speak to us at the PNO Consultants stand in the Venturefest Oxford exhibition.   This article was written by Olaf Swanzy & Max McMullon. Olaf is PNO UK’s MD, having initially joined in 2004 to help establish the UK operation. Olaf has worked with an extensive range of SME’s, large companies and universities across all industry sectors to advance R&D through the procurement of public funding from all principle National and European schemes (including Innovate UK, NIHR, DECC and Horizon 2020), technology transfer actions and grant programme management for UK and EU funded projects. Max has been an Innovation Consultant for several EU funding consultancies, supporting innovative SME’s to secure funding for R&D and market implementation of disruptive ideas. Max joined PNO UK to lead activities relating to EU SME schemes and support our activities on Innovate UK programmes. READ MORE

Ready to commercialise your invention? Stop! Do you have Freedom to Operate?

Ready to commercialise your invention? Stop! Do you have Freedom to Operate?

“I have patents on my invention. I don’t need to worry about other people’s patents – do I?” Yes, you do! Having your own patent does not mean that you can ignore other people’s patents. For example, you might have a patent on a specific compound, but another person might have an earlier patent which covers the whole class of compounds.  Or if you have a patent on a certain part of a process, there might be other patents which cover upstream or downstream parts of the process that you are planning to use. Therefore, before you start commercialising your invention, it is prudent to do a Freedom to Operate (FTO) search to try to find any relevant patents.  There are generally three stages to this: (1) Define the product, process or method that you plan to commercialise in terms of keywords.  These keywords will be used to search the patent databases to try to find relevant patents.  You will also need to decide on which countries you are likely to make/use/sell your invention because you will need to search the databases of those countries’ patents. (2) Commission a patent search using the keywords you have selected.  The search should cover both patents and patent applications in the countries that you have selected. These searches are usually performed by specialist searching companies. (3) Analyse the results of the search. The number of “hits” that you get from your search will depend on how broadly your keywords were, on how many different countries’ patent databases you have searched, and on how many relevant patents are in those databases.  This analysis is usually done by a patent attorney.  All of the claims of all of the patents need to be carefully reviewed. The claims of pending patent applications (which might later mature into patents) also need to be considered, as well as the likelihood of those patent applications actually being granted. Often the patents/applications are sorted by the patent attorney into “relevant”, “possibly relevant” and “not relevant” (or red, amber and green) bundles, indicating the level of risk associated with those patents/applications. On the “relevant” (red) cases, further investigations might be needed.  The options to be explored here could include seeking a license under the patent, challenging the patent’s validity, designing around it or waiting until the patent expires. Whilst an FTO search might cost £500-£2500 (depending on how exhaustive you wish it to be), the costs for the analysis will depend mainly on the number of patents which are found. (The more patents that are found, the more time it will take to analyse them.)  The analysis costs might therefore be up to £5,000, or higher. Carrying out an FTO search and analysis can be a time-consuming exercise, but it is money well spent.  For example, it is much better to find out about relevant patents/applications before you invest $10 million in a new manufacturing facility. If you don’t, then you risk being sued by a competitor for patent infringement (and possibly being shut down)! READ MORE

Keep your Data Safe and your Teddy Bear!

Keep your Data Safe and your Teddy Bear!

When we are young, we never worried about our home being safe… You know it is, right? Our parents lock up before they go to bed, they ensure that the windows are secure, curtains are closed at night, so no one can see you sat there with your favourite Teddy Bear in your dinosaur pyjamas drinking hot chocolate. Checks are done to make sure that there are no monsters under the bed…! As we grow up and viewing potential homes for ourselves, we want to live with the same level of safety and security… Do we even think that a door would not have a lock, or how safe that lock is? No, we take it all for granted that the locks work, if it doesn’t, then we simply install a new one. We close our curtains so that we can still wear wacky pyjamas and drink hot chocolate on a cold winters night, probably with the same favourite Teddy Bear, this is all contained in the privacy of our own home. We do all this automatically, without even thinking. Because this is what we have been so used to. This is just basic security. It keeps us all feeling safe and private. So, in this world of identity fraud and data breaches, we must become used to adopting methods to keep the data we hold safe and secure. We have systems and applications available to help us to store, access and transmit our electronic data and we need to consider how to be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). With a focus on data privacy we need to think about the documents we leave around, the spoken conversations we have whilst in the queue waiting for that well deserved latte, or on the train travelling to that all important meeting. Working on the train without a privacy screen, means people around you can view what is on your screen. These are potential data/security breaches. So how can we make our ourselves or clients, feel that their data is as safe as that favourite Teddy Bear? Some ways to mitigate these risks is that you can buy a privacy screen for your laptop, wait until you get to the office to have that conversation about the client meeting. In my experience there are some key points to consider to ensure you make that data safe.  It is best to start by listing where all your data is, identify which applications store your data and you need to consider if you are the data controller or the processor?  As a business you need to ensure your privacy policy explains your data activities with clarity and that it is up to date and regularly reviewed. If you hold personal identifiable information you will need to register with the Information Commissioners Office.  All these activities will help you know the value and how to protect the information you hold, especially if people want to exercise their rights in how you hold and manage that information under GDPR. However, none of this will make any difference, unless we take personal responsibility to ensure data is kept safe and secure, like our favourite Teddy Bear...! READ MORE

5 ways an accountant can help a start-up other than with their tax return

5 ways an accountant can help a start-up other than with their tax return

1. When it comes to your business plan This is probably the very first step after your eureka moment. You’ve spotted a gap and found a solution, but before diving in head first, a business plan can show you what you need to be able to achieve to ensure it will be viable. How much will you need to invest? How much can you afford to invest? How much will it make and is this enough for it to be considered worthwhile? An accountant can explain all these numbers so you know exactly what’s at stake and what can be gained. Not only that, but accurate and realistic figures will go a long way should you need a loan from the bank. 2. When you need to find a mentor How do you reach out to suppliers? How do you find customers or clients? How do you get your start-up out there? Sometimes the number of questions you may have can seem overwhelming. A mentor who has built up their own business with first-hand experiences can provide guidance and clarity. Your accountant may not necessarily be the right mentor you need, but a good accountant will be someone who builds meaningful business relationships with each of their clients, be a key contact amongst local businesses in your area and be able to point you in the right direction to suitable networking opportunities. 3. When you need to find more funding You’ve made good headway with your start-up but you don’t want to lose your momentum and need that extra injection of cash funds. There are various Government schemes such as R&D tax credits, SEIS and Patent Box that are readily available, but you should ask the experts in order to maximise on these options and ask them to explain which would be best for your situation. 4. When your start-up is ready to scale-up When you reach the point where you’re ready for your start-up to go even further you may start to consider parting with equity in order to gain large amounts of investment. Ensuring your shares are correctly set up is crucial and an accountant can talk you through various options such as approved v unapproved schemes. 5. When it’s time to exit It’s all up to personal preference but for some people, once the goal is achieved you’re ready to move onto the next thing. Whether it’s a merger and acquisition, initial public offering, selling to an individual or liquidating and closing, an accountant can recommend the best strategy with your long term future plans in mind. Perhaps you’re looking to do it all again with a new idea, enjoy early retirement or set up a trust to provide for children, a good accountant is there for more than just your tax return. They should try to understand your overall financial situation and goals, and provide efficient solutions. READ MORE

The hottest ticket in town!  Venturefest launches its programme

The hottest ticket in town! Venturefest launches its programme

If the heat hasn’t got to you yet, the recently launched Venturefest 2018 programme will get you hot under the collar! “We have put together a gourmet feast of delights this year” enthused Lynn Shepherd, out-going Executive Chair of Venturefest.  “Our plan was to present a much more streamlined event focussing on our county’s four outstanding sectors of Space, Autonomous Vehicles, Digital Health and Quantum Computing.  I think we have achieved this with bells on!” Lynn went on to talk about the Brookes University robot that will greet you, the captivating driverless car and Aston Martin racing car and a host of other stunning displays and exhibits. Visitors to the event, which takes place on 12 September at Oxford Brookes University, will have the opportunity to  celebrate the very best of innovative thinking in the county through talks and presentations, competitions and networking, panel discussions and demonstrations. Each of the four sectors will be offering enlightening sessions on the technologies behind them in the morning.  In the afternoon, there is a chance to learn about the many diverse applications they give us assess to.  Did you know that one of the applications of the Quantum Computing technologies is the ability to analyse wine without opening the bottle! Come to Venturefest to learn more about it and you’ll be astounded at what else there is to discover. Two breakfast sessions open the day, which is host to a large exhibition, a competition for young businesses to pitch for funding or other help, extensive networking opportunities and a closing plenary of local experts who will lead a debate on the challenges and opportunities the four sectors present to Oxfordshire and the UK. To learn more about the programme and speakers, and to buy tickets for the event, visit venturefestoxford.com/venturefest-2018. Tickets are £25 and include complimentary travel courtesy of Oxford Bus Company, free lunch and refreshments and access to all the sessions. Students are free. READ MORE

Venturefest Oxford Seeks New Chair

Venturefest Oxford Seeks New Chair

Venturefest Oxford Seeks New Chair Venturefest Oxford is the county’s premier networking event for entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and other like-minded people, and this year is celebrating its 20th anniversary on 12th September at Oxford Brookes University. It also marks the last event with Lynn Shepherd, the current Executive Chair, at the helm.  Lynn is stepping down after 4 years and 5 Venturefests.  Lynn joined Venturefest in 2014 on retiring from her role as Director of Communications at Oxford Instruments. “I didn’t want to “retire” completely and Venturefest offered me the perfect opportunity to maximise my skills and experience, “ Lynn says. “ It hasn’t disappointed and I have enjoyed the last four years immensely.  I feel very proud that the Venturefest Oxford brand has continued to thrive and grow and our events continue to be so popular and so well supported by the whole enterprise community in Oxfordshire”. “Our event this year is shaping up to be our best yet” she continues. “We will be in the new buildings on Oxford Brookes’ Headington Campus, and will be showcasing the amazing cutting edge technology taking place around the county. I am very excited and just know it will be a fitting 20th celebration and the perfect swansong!” Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes and a long-standing Board member of Venturefest Oxford, commented: “I was sorry to hear that Lynn would be stepping down as Chair as she has done such a tremendous job over the last four years. Venturefest continues to go from strength to strength and is an important catalyst for the innovation, investment and entrepreneurism taking place across the county and beyond. Professor Fitt added: “I have no doubt that the event in September will be the biggest and best networking opportunity yet for business and innovators. It will be a fitting tribute to the commitment and expertise Lynn has brought to the role and I wish her every success for the future. I am proud that Oxford Brookes University will be hosting this year’s event and our inspirational buildings will be the perfect setting for driving forward new advances and partnerships. The Board are currently looking to appoint a new Executive Chair and more information on the role can be found on here. To find out more about the Venturefest20 event on 12th September, visit the website where you can explore the exciting programme, see who the speakers and exhibitors are, and purchase tickets. Tickets are £25 each and include free travel, free refreshments and free entry to all the sessions.  Students are free. End For more information please contact Lynn Shepherd on [email protected] READ MORE

Venturefest Oxford are looking for a new Executive Chair

Venturefest Oxford are looking for a new Executive Chair

This is an opportunity for an experienced business leader to become the Executive Chair of Venturefest Oxford (Ltd), an annual event that brings together innovators, investors and entrepreneurs to make new connections that lead to new investments, new businesses and new ideas. As Executive Chair of Venturefest Oxford you will have an opportunity to drive a dynamic and vibrant event which celebrates successes in the high-tech knowledge economy in the region and provides a focal point for the local innovation eco-system helping to drive growth in the local economy and creating sustainable jobs. We are looking for a persuasive and influential person who can bring energy and passion to the Venturefest Board. You will continue to foster positive relationships with local stakeholders and be a prime facilitator of attracting sponsorship and funding. You will also manage the programme for the annual flagship event. Our Board is well established, representative of a wide range of private and public interests with active engagement of the two Universities, OxLEP, The Oxford Trust and local businesses. The individual will be required to be a director of the company and to act as Chair. In so doing to represent the views and interests of the Venturefest Board, ensuring that decisions are taken in the best interests of the event and the local economy. Role Description It is essential that we appoint a dynamic and well connected Executive Chair to lead Venturefest Oxford into its 21st year. The Board recognise that its new Chair should be: a natural leader with a good profile in Oxfordshire someone who can lead the Venturefest event into the next phase of growth someone who has empathy in order to be able to work with and influence a wide range of people someone with a proven link and passion for innovation and entrepreneurship in the tech sector someone who will strengthen and raise the profile of Venturefest Oxford in Oxfordshire and beyond The Venturefest Board meets every three to four months currently. The Executive Chair is required to foster partnerships and funding opportunities and to build and manage the event programme. This currently equates to a commitment of up to 30 days per annum. As Venturefest Oxford is a Limited Company (not for profit) the successful candidate will become a Director of the Company but not an employee, and their details will be filed at Companies House. This invokes certain legal duties and responsibilities, which candidates are expected to be familiar and comfortable with. The Chair will: Provide visible leadership, strategic direction and a purpose to the Venturefest Board, helping to create a successful event which contributes to the growth of the Oxfordshire economy Chair and develop an effective Board, ensuring that a broad range of challenging perspectives are united (and motivated) towards a common goal and purpose Actively seek to promote the interests and ambitions of Venturefest Oxford with key influencers in local government, business and community, with the broad aim of driving a positive future for the County and Venturefest Oxford’s role in supporting it Oversee the development of future Venturefest Oxford strategy and governanc• Champion the work of Venturefest Oxford, its objectives, outcomes and results to relevant partners, organisations, networks and the media Secure top level sponsorship and partnership funding opportunities Develop and manage the event programme, working with the current, long term and experienced event delivery manager Be responsible for budgets and financial management Experience and Attributes The Chair must be able to demonstrate the following: A strong commitment to, and understanding of, innovation, entrepreneurship and the knowledge-based sector Strong interpersonal and communication skills; be articulate and able to influence, broker, build strong networks, deal with media attention and represent Venturefest Oxford in a local and sometimes national context Empathy, in order to be able to work with and influence a wide range of people Be well-connected, with demonstrable links to other businesses and organisations in the County Terms of Appointment Commitment to serve for up to three years with an option to extend by agreement of the Board Absolute minimum commitment of 30 days a year, including chairing Board/strategic meetings, event management and attendance and ambassadorial duties This role will be remunerated at £15,000 per annum Equal Opportunities Venturefest Oxford encourages applications regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation or age. How to Apply and Timetable for Recruitment If you feel you have the skills and experience to meet these challenges and wish to apply for this opportunity, please send a CV with a covering letter to [email protected] Key Dates Closing Date - 31st August 2018 Short-listing - w/c 3rd September 2018 Shortlisted candidates attend Venturefest - 12th September 2018 Interviews - 17/18th September 2018 Commence Role - 1st November 2018 READ MORE

Interview with Lynn Shepherd

Interview with Lynn Shepherd

B4 interviewed Lynn Shepherd, Executive Chair of Venturefest Oxford about this year's event on 12th September. Video below.  READ MORE

Growing success, nurturing innovation

Growing success, nurturing innovation

For an event that is looking to the future and showcasing the innovation and transformative technologies being developed in Oxfordshire, the Thames Valley, and beyond, Oxford Brookes University is a natural partner. Over the 20 years since Venturefest began, Oxford Brookes has grown and developed as part of the high-tech economy that makes such a critical contribution to the region. Health and life sciences, robotics and artificial intelligence, and autonomous vehicles and motorsport engineering, are just some of the areas where University expertise and research are creating successful partnerships with local businesses, as well as research institutions and partners, to fuel innovation. Recent substantial investment in the Headington campus of Oxford Brookes is  the showcase for that growth and an inspirational location to host Venturefest 2018 in its 20th Year, in these award-winning, welcoming spaces. [caption id="attachment_36059" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] The Forum at Oxford Brookes University where the 20th Venturefest Oxford will be held on 12th  September 2018[/caption] In this setting our students thrive whether learning at undergraduate level or undertaking postgraduate or doctoral research. Oxford Brookes students are learning high quality skills in a high quality environment and their aptitude will become the lifeblood of our economy in the future. With new talent, critical thinking and even more critical experience, the students  benefit the economy by bringing a culture of innovation and a passion for excellence into the companies and organisations they later work with. Research excellence and impact is at the heart of what Oxford Brookes does, making a tangible difference to communities locally, nationally and internationally, and tackling some of the world’s biggest problems. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework assessment, 94% of Oxford Brookes research was “internationally recognised”, with 59% rated as “word-leading or internationally excellent”. [caption id="attachment_36060" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Motorsport is a core speciality of Oxford Brookes University[/caption] Visitors to Venturefest will have the opportunity to discover more about the work of Oxford Brookes researchers, discuss possible collaborations with our academics to develop practical solutions to problems, or to explore the potential to commercialise innovations for technical advancement, economic growth and social good. So join us at Venturefest, step inside the University at Headington and discover the world of tomorrow, today. To talk about how your organisation can benefit from Brookes’ world-class expertise, talent or training, contact [email protected] READ MORE

Award applications open for the 2018 Enterprise Awards

Award applications open for the 2018 Enterprise Awards

The Oxford Trust is pleased to announce that the application process is now open for its prestigious Enterprise Awards 2018. The Oxford Trust Enterprise Awards 2018 take place after Venturefest Oxford on the evening of Wednesday 12th September at Oxford Brookes University. Now in their fourteenth year, the awards are an annual highlight in the innovation calendar. They recognise and celebrate the breadth of innovative companies and individual entrepreneurs who are working in science and technology in the Oxford region. Run in partnership with Venturefest Oxford, the event is a real showcase for Oxfordshire’s high-tech industry and celebrates those just starting out on their journey to success as well as established businesses and individuals who have made an impact on the regional economy through innovation. Previous winners have included Oxbotica, Immunocore and Adaptix – all now successful companies in their own right. The awards drinks reception and networking event is sponsored by Marks & Clerk. In 2018, there are four award categories, including the Triteq Young Entrepreneur Award, the Barclays Award for Innovation, Advanced Oxford Technology Breakthrough Award and The Oxford Trust Lifetime Achievement Award. Applications are now open for: Triteq Young Entrepreneur Award This award recognises and celebrates the founder/s (under 40) of innovative science and tech companies in Oxfordshire. The winner of last year’s award was Travis Wentworth, who set up Langu – a virtual language platform that connects students with teachers. Prize money of £1000, engraved glass award Barclays Award for Innovation This award is presented to a company that has already spotted an opportunity in a tech market and has successfully created a business that meets this need and benefits wider society and the economy. Last year’s winner was Oxbotica, the world-leading driverless vehicle software firm. Prize money of £1000, engraved glass award Businesses applying for the Enterprise Awards 2018 must be a registered company based in Oxfordshire. They should have funding in place for the next 3–5 years. For the Triteq Young Entrepreneur Award, founder/s should be under 40 and have developed a recognised and original science/tech innovation. For the Barclays Award for Innovation, companies must have created a new opportunity in the tech market that benefits the local economy and wider society. Full details of the awards are available on line at http://theoxfordtrust.co.uk/our-work/oxford-trust-enterprise-awards/ The Young Entrepreneur Award is sponsored by Triteq, a product design and development consultancy based in Newbury. Triteq is back for a third year as the sponsor of this award. Angela Hobbs, Triteq’s Managing Director, says, “At Triteq we work with ideas. Most importantly, we work with people who have ideas that have the potential to become life-changing products with a global impact. We believe that supporting the Enterprise Awards is an excellent way of recognising young founders and encouraging innovation”. The Trust is delighted to welcome back Barclays for a third year as the sponsor of the Innovation Award. Gary Harris, Relationship Director at Barclays, commented: “Barclays is once again proud to be a sponsor of the The Oxford Trust Enterprise Awards. We share the same ambition to support innovative entrepreneurs and businesses in Oxford and across the region. Running any fast-moving, high-growth company takes a substantial investment, from both an emotional and financial perspective, and it’s an investment we want to be fully behind. High growth businesses are a priority for us, they have a hugely positive impact; they create new jobs, new opportunities for investors and they help to galvanise economic growth as a whole.” Applications for the Triteq Young Enterpreneur Award and Barclays Innovation Award are open now and close on 19th June. Go to: www.theoxfordtrust.co.uk Find out more READ MORE

Venturefest Oxford 2018 – New date and venue

Venturefest Oxford 2018 – New date and venue

Venturefest20 goes back to the future at Oxford Brookes! In celebration of its 20 years, Venturefest Oxford is moving its annual event to the new Oxford Brookes building next year.  Not only that, it is moving from the spring to the autumn and will be on Wednesday 12th September 2018, definitely one for the diary! Venturefest is going back to the future for this milestone event, going back to its original mission of showcasing the cutting edge work being done across Oxfordshire.  At the same time it is looking into the future by focusing on Space technologies, Quantum computing, digital health and autonomous vehicles and robotics.  All of these sectors have the potential to significantly impact both our lives and the local, UK and world economies. Venturefest will be offering an overview of the technologies involved, and insight into their applications and a look forward to the opportunities they will create.  Local businesses - big and small - will be alongside representatives from both universities, local organisations, government authorities, and a cross section of local support services and investors.  The Pitching for Success session will focus on showcasing businesses from these sectors and will expand to not only those wishing to pitch for funding, but also mentoring, skills and personnel. Lynn Shepherd, Chair of Venturefest, said of the new venue “Oxford Brookes University gives us the chance to radically improve our programme, making it more dynamic and streamlined, and we look forward to rising to the challenge it presents us.  The new Clerici Hall in particular is a triumph and we are excited to be one of the first to book it for our event.” Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University and Board Member for Venturefest Oxford said: “We are delighted to host Venturefest Oxford 2018 at Oxford Brookes University. Next year marks 20 years since Venturefest Oxford first began and in that time it has grown into a premier business networking event. The University is proud of its strong partnerships with business and industry both in the UK and globally and we recognise the value of these events in providing opportunities, support and connections. We will be working with our award-winning Oxford Brookes Venues team to create an exciting hub for innovators, investors and businesses to come together.” For more information on the event, exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities, go to Venturefest Oxford 2018.   READ MORE

TechTonic: She Started In Oxford

TechTonic: She Started In Oxford

She Started in Oxford - Breakfast session with four inspirational speakers 5th December from 7.30 to 8.30am at the University of Oxford Examination Schools Oxford has always led the way in education, research and innovation. Unsurprisingly, thousands of influential leaders have begun their journey here. The list of famous Oxonians includes 51 Nobel Prize winners, 27 British Prime Ministers and countless CEOs, all of whom have disrupted their field, changing the status quo. We have asked four successful women who began their journeys in Oxford to share their stories with us over breakfast. Join us for what will surely be an inspirational occasion.  Just imagine the conversation over a coffee and croissant! Book your ticket now! This event is run in conjunction with Innovation Forum Conference, a C-level conference gathering top leaders from industry, academia and government and mixing them with early stage ventures investors and researchers. The conference is now in its fourth year and previous editions brought together over 1,300 delegates, stimulated thousands of conversations and catalysed numerous partnerships for the next generation of innovative technology. To find out more about the conference and register visit the website. More details about the breakfast, its venue and registration will follow shortly. READ MORE

Making the right decisions about your staff

Making the right decisions about your staff

Often, new business owners are given lots of information about the pitfalls of hiring new staff and told about onerous employee rights which are a burden for businesses. Balancing the need for additional support with the need to reduce the legal risk as far as possible, can be tricky.  However, whether you’re considering taking on an intern, casual, part-time, fixed-term or permanent employee, there are certain key things all employers should bear in mind. Right to work checks All employers must check that all their staff have the legal right to work in the UK before employing them.  If they don’t and an employee is working illegally, the employer can be fined up to £20,000 per worker and or, even, imprisoned. In completing the checks, all staff need to be treated the same (regardless of their nationality, place of birth or appearance) to avoid claims of discrimination. When a member of staff joins an employer, they must provide evidence of their right to work in the UK by showing the company an original document from List A or List B published by the Home Office.  You should check it each time you employ someone as it is updated regularly.   We can advise on the necessity of termination of employment if you become aware that someone is working illegally.  In this scenario, you must act quickly to avoid further penalty. Also, don’t forget that if your staff work with vulnerable adults or children, You’ll need to carry out Disclosure and Barring checks. National Minimum Wage/National Living Wage You will need to check current rates and discounts to check you are paying your workers at least the national living wage.  Special rules apply to apprenticeships. Tax, pensions and insurance HMRC recently updated its guidance on who is classed as self-employed or employed, as well as the need for employers to provide workplace pensions.  There are additional regulatory considerations such as registering with HMRC as an employer and arranging employers’ liability insurance. Contracts If you employ anyone, you must provide them a “written statement of particulars” setting out information such as the company name, employee name, job title or a description of work, their start date and details of pay and hours of work.  Generally, this must be provided within the first 2 months of employment and is often in the form of a contract. There are many other things to think about including what is contained in an offer letter, what probationary period might be suitable and appropriate and what references you should take up. All this can feel a little overwhelming but, fortunately, we are here to help.  We can talk you though all your obligations and prepare a pack of all the start-up documents you need, with handy checklists to help you manage the load. READ MORE

The hottest event in town – Venturefest Oxford 2017

The hottest event in town – Venturefest Oxford 2017

Yesterday was the hottest day in 40 years but that didn’t stop over 600 people coming together for this year’s Venturefest Oxford.  It was a great day – with a real focus on innovation, showcasing emerging talent within the business community as well as providing advice from business experts – everything from growing a team, improving negotiating skills through to IP legal advice and how to successfully secure funding. This was my second year speaking at Venturefest. This year I was part of a panel alongside other entrepreneurs Alex Minchin (Zest Digital), Mark Evans (Adaptix Imaging), Renee Watson (The Curiosity Box), Hugh Bettesworth (Mirada Medical), Jason Purvor (Droplet Computing), Clare Wright (Classlist), and chaired by Gary Frank who heads up FAB Accelerator.  We were discussing the theme of this year’s event ‘From Start-up to Scale Up’ and we took questions from the floor on the challenges of recruitment, how to demonstrate the value of consultancy, the importance of keeping control of cash flow to facilitate growth and the how to build your own customer adventure from the very outset so that you have a real idea of what you want your customer to experience from your brand. The inevitable B word was raised in the context of how was Brexit going to affect the UK’s start-up economy? There was unanimous feeling that it was not going to hinder the UK start-up world but that more needed to be done with providing support for these fledging businesses to help them succeed, and the importance of business education on the curriculum so that our students leaving school have a greater understanding of how to run a business, and the opportunity that this can bring. The backdrop for this whole day was our host city, Oxford. And Charles Leadbeater, an author and advisor on social entrepreneurship, was the plenary speaker at lunchtime on the subject of how to make a city like Oxford successful as it evolves.  Charles has spoken around the world on this subject and shared with the audience the importance of a shared city leadership – and that needs to come from not just the government & ruling bodies but also be combined with input from cultural organisations as well as private and public sector.  As a plan for growth what is required is a shared vision that citizens can buy into that combines social capital as well as open social networks so that initiatives are shared, owned and actioned upon. One of the things that stay with me from the day is that we are part of a vibrant and strong business ecosystem here in Oxford and that there is a whole range of valuable support for those who are growing resilient businesses here in order to face whatever is to come in the years ahead. Original article can be found here: http://cubaneight.com/news/the-hottest-event-in-town-venturefest-oxford/ READ MORE

Angel Investment more important than ever

Angel Investment more important than ever

  The UK continues to enjoy a vibrant start up business culture According to Companies House a record 650,000 new businesses were created in 20161. The data on the failure rate of start-up businesses varies but a recent report suggests that across Europe 60% of companies will not survive past 5 years2. A key factor that can determine the sustainability and eventual success of young and innovative companies is the availability of risk capital at an early stage. The early (or seed) stage of development is generally the most difficult time for companies to access external finance. Traditional banks, fund managers and even venture capital firms will typically not lend to or invest in early stage businesses as the risks are considered too great and the average transaction size too small to meet the criteria of these institutions. For many companies, investment provided by high net worth individuals (angels) and grant funding are the only sources of external finance open to them at this stage. Angel investors, who often have extensive business experience, constitute the most significant source of risk capital at the seed and early stage of company formation. In addition to cash, angel investors may also play a key role in providing strategic advice, credibility with funders and operational support for early stage businesses. In the UK the generous tax breaks for angel investors in the form of the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and the more recent Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) have underpinned the vitality of the provision of early stage risk capital. The EIS was launched in 1993 to “recognise that unquoted trading companies can often face considerable difficulties in realising relatively small amounts of share capital3.” Since that time 26,000 companies have raised £15.9 billion through EIS4. Oxford Innovation set up Oxford Investment Opportunity Investment Network (OION) in 1994 as one of the UK’s first angel networks to support this early stage investment activity. Since then our angel investors have invested in over 250 companies for a total amount of close to £40 million. In addition OION has established the OION SEIS/EIS fund in conjunction with investment managers Innvotec which invests alongside our angel investors. Venturefest, like OION, celebrates the critical role of the angel investor in supporting entrepreneurs and innovators thereby contributing to the success of Oxfordshire’s economy. OION are therefore delighted to support Venturefest Oxford, particularly in running the Pitching for success event.   1Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE)’s analysis of the latest Companies House data. 2The UK 5-year survival rate for businesses born in 2010 and still active in 2015 was 41.4%. from ONS Statistical bulletin: Business demography, UK: 2015 3Michael Portillo, then Chief Secretary to the Treasury 4HMRC Key Statistics – April 2017: Enterprise Investment Scheme & Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme READ MORE

Protecting your investment – five top tips for entrepreneur’s from a corporate lawyer

Protecting your investment – five top tips for entrepreneur’s from a corporate lawyer

So you’ve got a great idea; one that revolutionises a market (or, maybe, even the world!); but what about protecting it.  I advise businesses from when they first start to when time has come to sell, including when they get investment along the way.  If you’re planning to raise funds or sell one day, thinking about what investors or buyers will ask you before they hand over their cash will save you time and money later and, at the same time, help you plan for the future. 1. Protect your financial (or time) investment Investors protect themselves.  Buyers of businesses protect themselves.  Founders of business, all too often, do not.  Shareholders’ Agreement’s or bespoke articles of association for a business protect all the shareholders, avoiding expensive and time consuming disputes later.  Not only that, but the conversations you’ll have when drafting them will help you plan the business and understand what each shareholder expects. 2. Protect your Intellectual Property Registering trademarks and patents (if you can) is an important step, but investors or buyers will expect you to protect at all intellectual property your business generates. Say you’re developing software, who is developing it?  Do you know who owns the rights in it?  Generally, you can only protect the expression of an idea; not the idea itself.  Where an external contractor develops your idea, they may own the rights in the work!  Working out who owns the rights and putting in place clearly drafted contracts to give your business the rights it needs will protect the value of your idea. Don’t forget confidentiality agreements (sometimes called non-disclosure agreements) either.  Some of the most commercial successful ideas are not protected by intellectual property.  The formula for Coca-Cola is a secret, it has never been protected in any other way. 3. Secure your key people For many businesses, their people are their key asset.  Investors and buyers will look at the contracts you have with them to make sure the business is adequately protected.  In particular, they will want to know that they cannot leave at short notice and, if they do leave, that they cannot take their expertise elsewhere and compete with your business.  If your contracts are not up to scratch, it could affect the value of your business. 4. Limit your liability The first step is to form a company.  However, that will only limit your liability, not the company’s to its customers and suppliers.  If your business sells something (it is not much of business if it doesn’t!) it will have some liability for what it does.  Properly drafted and implemented agreements can reduce the company’s liability, if things do not go to plan and will put investors and buyers minds at ease that there is not a big claim around the corner. 5. Get great professional advice Great professional advice really can take your business to the next level.  The best advice comes from a team of trusted professionals working together.  We work closely with accountants, tax advisers, financial planners and other advisers, to give them joined up advice for both their business and them. READ MORE

Brexit’s Impact on Intellectual Property Rights in the UK

Brexit’s Impact on Intellectual Property Rights in the UK

Brexit will have a major effect on both existing and future intellectual property rights in the UK. The main impact will be on those rights that have “unitary effect” across all 28 EU member states, i.e. where a single right applies across the EU as if the EU were one country.  These are the EU Trade Mark, the Registered Community Design (RCD), the Unregistered Community Design (UCD) and the forthcoming European Patent with Unitary Effect. Under current EU laws none of these rights can cover a territory that is not an EU member state, and so after Brexit they will all cease to apply in the UK.  This means they will no longer be infringed by acts carried out in the UK. The UK Government is likely to introduce specific legislation to provide that existing unitary trade marks and designs continue to have effect in the UK as if they were UK national rights, but to date no proposals have been published. In the meantime businesses need to prepare.  Those that intend to use their mark or design in the other 27 member states after Brexit should continue to apply for EU rights. Those that only intend to use them in the UK should apply for a UK national registration.  Applicants for new marks or designs which are to be used in the UK and the rest of the EU should apply for a separate UK mark or design now as well as an EUTM or RCD, in order to avoid the need to rely on whatever procedure is introduced on Brexit and to avoid any attendant delays or problems.  Owners of existing EU rights should also consider applying now for separate UK rights for the same reason. Following Brexit, the UK will remain a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) which handles international trade mark registrations. Filing an application through WIPO may be the most appropriate option for a business wishing to register trade marks in the UK, EU and countries such as Japan, China and the USA. The Unitary Patent is a new unitary right that is due to come into force at the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018, with its own special set of courts (the Unified Patent Court or UPC), one division of which will be based in London. The UP can currently only take effect in EU member states and the UPC cannot be based in a non-EU member state. Therefore, unless further agreement is reached, on withdrawal UPs will cease to have effect in the UK and the UK’s section of the UPC will have to move away from London. Continued UK participation in the UPC and UP would require a new international agreement between the UK and the participating EU member states, and would require the UK to submit to EU law and the jurisdiction of the European Court in proceedings before the UPC. It is therefore likely that many businesses will opt out of the UP regime until its future is more certain. READ MORE

Paying apprentices a fair wage crucial to attracting great talent

Paying apprentices a fair wage crucial to attracting great talent

The new Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham recently spoke out about the importance of paying apprentices a fair wage. Speaking to the North West Business Insider magazine, Mr Burnham suggested that the apprentice minimum wage should be increased to equal the national minimum wage. He said: “No young apprentice in Greater Manchester should be paid less than the national minimum wage. Paying them £3.50 is simply not enough. "Public sector bodies in Greater Manchester are already leading by example and working towards paying apprentices the proper national minimum wage. It's time for every employer in Greater Manchester to follow suit." For many businesses here in Oxfordshire, Mr Burnham’s comments will already resonate strongly. In early-May, colleagues from Oxfordshire Apprenticeships reviewed 40 apprenticeship vacancies – all Oxfordshire-based and chosen at random. It revealed an average wage of £4.81 an hour, which is significantly higher than the national minimum wage of £3.50 per hour. Many ‘living wage’ employers already have effective apprentice salary structures, including the University of Oxford, who pay their apprentices a starting wage of £8.25 per hour. One of our key priorities at OxLEP is ‘people’. We believe that by paying apprentices above the national minimum wage, Oxfordshire businesses are better-placed to attract talented, young people and in-turn, gain an edge on competitors. By rewarding apprentices with good levels of pay, loyalty between a business and employee is built and acknowledges the long-term training investment being made. Competitive employment packages demonstrates a business’ commitment to apprenticeships, seeing apprentices as an essential part of their team and certainly not a cheap way to boost their productivity – but a positive way of developing a highly-trained workforce of the future. For around 400 Oxfordshire organisations – eligible to pay the apprenticeship levy – there has never been a better time to create an apprenticeship programme. When coupled with good, fair pay, positive outcomes can only be expected for both business and apprentice alike. To find out more on the benefits of apprenticeships, go to: www.oxfordshireapprenticeships.co.uk READ MORE

Don’t Do a Startup, Architect a Business!

Don’t Do a Startup, Architect a Business!

Prepare for the Unexpected Qflicks, a movie delivery platform I founded in 2002, came out of the gate flying. We were adding more customers in 3 months than our business plan had forecasted in 15. The year or so of planning, coding and putting into practice what I'd learnt whilst helping to start and build divisions of three multinationals and two venture-backed startups was paying off. We had validated the idea, product market fit, business model, and assembled the core team. Now our focus was scaling the business—and we were on a roll. We had seen off Netflix's initial attempt to enter the UK and Blockbuster was in the denial death-spiral. Our team was delighting customers and winning awards: “Innovative Company of the Year”, Top Web Company” - it felt like nothing could stop us. Then lightning struck. Letters arrived from all movie studios informing us that, while they welcomed our success effective immediately price of movies (our big cost) will increase by up to 2000%. We lived to fight another day, eventually becoming part of what is now Amazon Video. However, this unexpected development radically altered the online movie service landscape, impacted our ability to scale and changed the direction of our nascent company. The ‘Pivot’ as we call it today. It was, however, a teachable moment - particularly how uncertainty, the unexpected and seemingly non-scaling related decisions, made very early on, can impact even a successful business during the scaling-stage. As a result, I make sure that the young ventures we work with are built to thrive in uncertainty and prepared for unexpected developments from day one. Here are a few takeaways…. The Corridor of Uncertainty Peter Thiel once said, "Every moment in the history of new true innovation business happens only once, no one has ever made that particular decision before". A business is made up of thousands of these decisions. As the leader, each one you make will be a unique combination of art and science and takes real insight and skill to get right. It's what I call operating in the Corridor of Uncertainty, and many non-obvious scaling risks may be associated with even the smallest misstep. We hear a lot about technical, financial and operations scaling decisions but many do not fit neatly into these categories and could prove fatal during your growth execution stage. Qflicks survived this unexpected development, because of what we got right. However, it also exposed a number of flaws in earlier decisions. Some investors we had chosen turned out to lack the courage and ability to perform in the pressurised environment of uncertainty and rapid change. They soon panicked, became obsessed with 'managing cost and their investment' over what Qflicks could achieve and become. Key advisors went missing in action, not able to dedicate enough quality time. The amount of money we had raised was not sufficient to weather the storm. Although we nailed customer validations, the partnership analysis was less insightful in identifying the conclusions implicit in what the studio CEOs were saying - we placed too much emphasis on qualitative over quantitive analysis. Signs were there, but we saw the studios as partners with mutual financial gain. They bought into the part of our plan that said, "kill Blockbuster" except they wanted the resulting landscape for themselves. Kill the Business Plan The prevailing wisdom, among investors and former corporate executives, is the idea that writing a startup business plan and then slavishly following it is key. While it may serve as a useful tool in boardrooms to measure success or failure, business plans are pretty useless in helping you go from idea to market-fit to company to business. Writing a business plan and sticking rigidly to it is often one of the impediments to scaling a business. Why? Well, it goes back to that Corridor of Uncertainty how can you predict the unpredictable it's impossible right, so stop trying, kick the business plan into the trash bin. Instead, we help startups build frameworks that last the duration and flex to accommodate the needs of the business. Don't Do a Startup, Architect a Business! Through Qflicks we learnt the fundamental mistake of ‘doing a startup' in which we focused on lots of tasks to be done, the usual stuff; business plan, proof of concept, market research, engage advisors, raise funding to name a few. We soon realised that we should instead have been architecting a business with each of these being connected, agile building blocks towards our success. The goal being, a ‘Learning Structure’ able to swiftly and seamlessly adapt to doing what's most impactful for the business instead of what was written down 18 months before. Many stages and decisions lies between idea and execution scaling and as markets go from 'speed of the web' to the fast-changing velocity of smart-mobility nothing is certain. Innovators have rarely been able to reliably predict where their business would ultimately go but in this new environment, it becomes impossible. Replacing industrial age thinking and structures such as the business plan with curiosity, agility, trust and a business architected for uncertainty, able to learn and adapt to the unexpected requires courage and insightful leadership. Having insight when analysing data and identifying the conclusions implicit in what your team, the market and competitors have to say is the key to leading a new business to success. READ MORE

Investing in value: Tips for selling your business

Investing in value: Tips for selling your business

Wendy Hart, corporate finance partner at Grant Thornton Thames Valley, on how businesses can maximise their value before a sale. Despite uncertainties around Brexit the deals market in the Thames Valley is continuing to thrive at an encouraging rate. Buoyed by the healthy concentration of high-growth tech businesses, our region is particularly fertile ground for mergers and acquisitions. Selling your business is rarely an easy decision, nor something that’s decided overnight. It’s a journey that is embarked upon often many years earlier where a clear strategy is put in place to make the business as attractive as possible for sale. This is about value optimisation, not just a straight-forward transaction and it’s important to consider what factors an acquirer attaches value to. This could include the business’ scalability and resilience if the landscape changed quickly. As we saw very recently, when advising on the multimillion pound sale of Reading-based Magal Engineering Limited to Arlington Industries, the sale of a business almost always has its complexities. If you are considering selling your business, to ensure you get the best value it is important that you follow these six golden rules: 1.     Plan ahead Rarely is a business sale ready without any prior planning.  The earlier this is considered the better. I would suggest that you should start planning at least two years in advance, giving you the opportunity to address any issues a buyer may have and implement any tax planning measures that ultimately may improve your net proceeds. 2.     Get advice Ensure you appoint professional advisers that are experienced in transactions with companies similar to yours in terms of size and sector.  The earlier you do this the more value they will be able to add. 3.     Put your house in order Preparation is everything, if you can’t answer questions or provide important information to potential buyers, it can create uncertainty in their eyes and, at best, results in a difficult sale process and, at worst, break the potential sale. 4.     Be transparent There is little point trying to hide issues, the later these are disclosed the more damage they can do. Be open from the outset but only after you have worked with your advisers to address these issues or put a plan in place to mitigate their impact. 5.     Plan for succession Having a strong management team capable of running the business in your absence will be highly attractive to prospective buyers and gives you alternative options in the event a sale is not concluded. In order to get the best value for your business, it is essential to understand you’re your value drivers are throughout your business journey, by working with an external provider who can help both support and challenge you in your decision making. At Grant Thornton, we use tools such as our CEO room – a dedicated space for a one-to-one discussion where business leaders can speak to us about their issues and ambitions – to provide in-depth, bespoke consultancy to the businesses that we work with, advising them on how they can add real value to their business. We’re lucky enough to work with some of the Thames Valley’s most dynamic, fast growth businesses. Sometimes, they’re dynamic and ambitious by their nature and that’s why they know we can help them. Other times, we challenge and help clients to become more dynamic in their approach, realising where the value can best be maximised and the path to get there. Preparing a business for sale is an incredibly rewarding job and I’ve been proud to help so many owners on their journey. READ MORE

Planning for your digital estate

Planning for your digital estate

Have you considered the amount of digital data that you have and if so, what would happen to that data on your death? There is no standard procedure for managing digital assets in the event of death or mental incapacity. It is therefore vital that any financial planning that you undertake includes arrangements for your digital estate. More internet service providers are allowing users to appoint a person who can be granted access to their account or for it to be memorialised. Facebook now permits users to appoint a “legacy contact”. Google has an Inactive Manager facility. However some assets cannot be legally passed on after death because the user only buys the rights to use the asset during their lifetime. Other accounts will contain money or assets that can be passed on only if the correct procedures are followed. Failing to follow those procedures could lead to data being destroyed before your next of kin can gain access to it. If assets held online have more than a merely sentimental value, you should consider including them in a separate legacy with separate executors to deal with them. This is particularly useful if you own anything online that contains intellectual property rights (such as a digital photography business) because the digital executor can maximise their value for your beneficiaries. If you have more specific, private wishes about how your digital estate should be administered, those could be included in a separate letter of wishes kept with your will so that they remain private between you and your digital executor / the beneficiary to whom you have left your digital estate. Simple, practical steps Make it as easy as possible for your next of kin to locate any PC, Mac, laptop, tablet, mobile phone, Kindle and MP3. Keep good records: Make sure that bank statements are well organised as these will show if there are any payments relating to digital assets, either regular or one-off expenditure. Tell select friends or relatives about the existence of your digital assets. Make a note of passwords and login details for your devices so executors can gain access to information and assets stored on them. None of this information should be contained within the will because this eventually becomes a public document. The list should be stored securely as a hard copy and kept up to date. Tell your executors that the list exists but do not give it to them. You may be breaching terms and conditions of individual internet service providers if you do. Print off hard copies, burn to CD or download onto a USB stick any photographs and documents that are only stored digitally and keep them in a safe place where executors can find them. Retain copies of key documents and data on a personally owned device (such as a laptop, tablet or personal computer), rather than storing them solely online. This will enable executors to access those assets more easily. READ MORE

Is Your Business Protected?

Is Your Business Protected?

As a business owner, you do everything you can to make your business a success. You may have covered the tangible assets of your business, but have you protected yourself, or those key individuals who may contribute heavily to profits? Could your business continue if one of the owners or key individuals were to die or suffer a critical illness? Without business protection, the death or serious illness of a key member of staff could have a significant impact. Indeed, it could mean that the business has to cease trading altogether. In the case of a partnership, it could mean that a shareholder’s family is forced to take control of a business they don’t know anything about. Business Protection could help make sure that a company can: Pay its debts Replace key employees Protect its profits Let Partners/Shareholders keep control of the business Provide support to a Partner or shareholder’s family. Compensate your business for Key Person absence Key Person Protection – insurance against the loss of profits that could result from the critical illness or death of a key individual, by paying out a cash sum so that the business can continue trading. With many small and medium sized companies dependent on a few specialist individuals, Key Person Cover is designed to help protect the business in the event of death or severe illness of one or more key employees. The business would take out a policy on the life of the key person and in the event of a claim, the sum assured is paid to the company to cover such things as loss of profits and recruitment costs. Lessen the loss of a shareholder or partner Business Ownership Protection (also known as Shareholder Protection) – insurance which gives the owners of the business a cash sum to buy the shares of a co-owner who becomes critically ill or dies. This lump sum helps the remaining business owners minimise disruption to the business, by providing capital that enables them to buy that shareholder’s or partner’s shares and so keep control of their business. A Shareholder Protection Plan is usually taken out by the Partner in the business on an own life basis and then written under a trust for the benefit of the other partners. In the event of a claim, the sum assured is paid to the Trustees for the benefit of the other partners to secure the financial future of the business. Protect your company’s financial stability in times of uncertainty Loan Protection provides a lump sum to cover your business loans and other credit facilities if a business owner dies or becomes seriously ill. In the event you lose a business partner, you may want or need to repay outstanding business loans, some of which may have personal guarantees or have to be repaid when someone dies. Without the right Business Protection Solutions in place, you could end up risking everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve. To find out more, talk to FOCUS. READ MORE

Insects – a food innovation – and revolution?

Insects – a food innovation – and revolution?

Food glorious food What did you have for breakfast this morning? Your days of egg and bacon may be numbered! Muesli, fruit and yogurt may become a ‘treat’ reserved for special occasions. Even porridge may be off the menu in the next few years. The food we eat in the future is likely to be very different – and it’s all down to man-made climate change, living longer, and a lot of children! Our changing climate is going to make it much harder to ‘grow’ food in the future and there will be too many people to feed. Put simply we have a major food security problem. Eating insects could be the answer. This has the potential to be the next big innovation in helping to alleviate global food insecurity. How can food production be ‘insecure’? The United Nations warns that in order to feed the 9 billion global population of 2050, food production will have to double. This is unrealistic. Within existing food and agricultural policies and practices repeated and urgent warnings stress the nutrition needs of the world’s population will not be satisfied. Climate change increases pests and diseases. Temperamental weather systems trigger droughts and flooding. Current livestock production is already unsustainable: it uses excessive quantities of natural resources in its production, most notably 70% of fresh water usage. Consequently producing 1 kg of beef requires approximately 22,000 litres of water. It is also the second largest contributor to rising global temperatures and emits a lot of greenhouse gases. And, there will not be enough water in the future either – so food production really is going to be very challenging. Insects – a food innovation – and revolution? In response new innovations to produce food – sustainably – in the future are being sought. First proposed in the 1970’s, attention is increasing on the feasibility of insects for human consumption - namely entomophagy. Producing insects entails negligible use of natural resources like water and land and their ecological impact is virtually zero, particularly if they can be locally produced. Besides the eco-arguments, insects are highly nutritious, being rich in protein, omega 3 & 6, vitamins and minerals. Persuading consumers to buy insect-based foods and insects, however, might require a revolution! So why are we at Venturefest 2017? We comprise two academics and a Brookes Graduate Entrepreneur working on how acceptance of eating-insects might be increased. Our Entrepreneur has created some insect-based ‘treats’ for you to try and we also have actual edible insects too. Please do come and sample some of these ‘delights’ – you might be quite surprised. And of course we would love to share thoughts on how this innovation can be successfully progressed in the not too distant future. You never know, this idea might have legs, or wings , or… READ MORE

OxLEP Chief Executive offers SMEs advice following worldwide cyber attack

OxLEP Chief Executive offers SMEs advice following worldwide cyber attack

The recent worldwide cyber security attack though – in the main – targeting large national and international organisations, should act as a timely reminder to thousands of small businesses in Oxfordshire. Our county is home to around 31,000 VAT-registered businesses, many of whom will have the ability to put much-resource behind cyber threats – but for smaller business, where resources are often tight, it would be easy to overlook online security issues. Our message to Oxfordshire SMEs is the online attacks should act as a stark reminder that cyber security must remain a top priority and should not be ignored – and there is plenty of support available to businesses. The Oxford Cyber Cluster  is an informal group of small companies who actively work in cyber security, promoting the need for increased resilience in this area, offering practical advice. In addition – businesses should review their current cyber security procedures against the up-to-date advice given by the National Cyber Security Centre. Advice includes; keeping security software patches current, using proper antivirus software services and backing up any data that matters to a business. Our vision is to see Oxfordshire as a vibrant, sustainable, inclusive, world-leading economy – driven by innovation, enterprise and research excellence. With that vision comes inevitable growth and the need to invest in new technologies which naturally, opens-up everyone – but particularly SMEs – to online risk. And with 85,600 new jobs set to be generated in Oxfordshire by 2031 – over half of which have already been created, many by SMEs – that risk is certainly not going to go away. Oxfordshire Business Support – a service of OxLEP – offers guidance and advice for businesses starting out, or growing. Find out more information. READ MORE

When does 3D printing your prototype make sense?

When does 3D printing your prototype make sense?

There are lots of manufacturing methods available for prototyping your design. Even if you’ve decided you want to 3D print it, there are still several technologies to choose from. The most suitable one will depend on your desired material properties, surface finish, lead time and budget. 1)     Rubber Overmoulding Traditionally, the best option to prototype a plastic part over moulded with a rubber seal is to vacuum cast the two parts separately and stick them together. However, the finish can be poor due to misalignment and delamination. Using our Polyjet machine, we can 3D print separate sections of your model in different materials as one object. The resins are jetted directly on top of the layers below and then cured so there is great adhesion between the materials. We can 3D print from 27 to 95 ShoreA hardness in black, coloured or translucent. 2)     High Accuracy Components When you’re checking how your parts fit together, it’s important that your model matches your design file accurately. With CNC milling, you need to give pages of precise instructions about which edges you need sharp and which corners you want rounded. Bead blasting gives a smooth, shiny finish but you lose the detail. If it’s what you want, we can simply press print. With 16 micron layers, we can match your file with exceptional precision, so you can make sure that any mechanisms, hinges and snap-fits work exactly as you expect to properly validate your design. Make sure your success is not an artefact of the prototyping process. 3)     Multi-coloured Parts To prototype in lots of colours, you’ll need lots of paints. Masking, spraying, drying, remasking, respraying… your prototype can take days to paint. The colour is then only skin-deep so fragile and easily scratched. It is possible to use a water-transfer, but requires great skill and is very difficult on a curved surface. We 3D print using coloured resins, which we blend to make thousands of possible colours, up to 82 different shades within a single object! If the object gets chipped, or you intentionally snap it, the colour will show right through the part. 4)     Complex Shapes The magic of 3D printing is the ability to create “impossible” geometries that would be extremely difficult to mill or injection mould. Many of the uses in arts and fashion play on these new possibilities. It allows for lattice structures, topologically optimised parts, and manufacturing complex assemblies. Unfortunately, with FDM or SLA you must include supports made from the same material as the object, which must be removed by hand in a time-consuming, expensive process. With Polyjet, we can just quickly dissolve away the support material, leaving a smooth surface finish.   5)     Quick Turnaround With a large 3D printer and quick process that requires very little hand finishing, we can turn around models within a day. If you are local to Oxford, we can even bring your prototype over on the same day!   READ MORE

Tour de Tech – a summer cycling series – June to September

Tour de Tech – a summer cycling series – June to September

I am delighted to invite you to join the ‘Tour de Tech, a summer cycling series that will bring together entrepreneurs, investors and professionals for an evening bike ride, some food and some high quality networking. I hope you will join us for as many of the dates as you can – these will run every two weeks from June to September. Each ride will start and end by a pub around Oxford and one of the Tour de Tech members will plan a route on quiet roads. It is a chance to ride with a group, make the most of the summer weather, discover new rides in the area and of course meet some new people. We have arranged a meal deal with each of the pubs. It is all informal and the purpose if just to get some interested and like-minded people together. All abilities welcome! Please click on the link below to sign up and join the Strava group. www.tourdetech.net As ever, it is the people involved that will make it fun and I would be grateful if you could forward this email to two friends who you think might enjoy getting involved -  Entrepreneurs, CXOs, Investors, tech transfer professionals, legal and financial professionals, etc. The first event will kick off on Tuesday 13 June at 6pm from the Bear & Ragged Staff in Cumnor, just 3 miles out of Oxford and we will do a 30-40km loop through the quiet country roads. There will be an informal dinner back at the pub afterwards. Kind regards and happy cycling! David Mott READ MORE

So you got a patent. Now what?

So you got a patent. Now what?

Sometime ago, I attended a pitch session where start-ups presented themselves to investors and other delegates. It is mindboggling what products are going to reach the market in the near future (but that is a topic for another time). What amazed me, next to the innovation, was the relative naivety of these young entrepreneurs and CEOs when it comes to IP, patents in particular. Upon asking them about IP, many simply answered: “I have a patent pending or granted so I am fine”. In many cases when asked what they are going to do with this patent, an awkward silence and quick “I need to go somewhere” followed. I don’t blame them. After all, entrepreneurs know that a patent is to prevent others from copying what you do, and once the patent is granted, you’re all set. That what IP is for right, blocking others? Think again-here are some examples of how IP should feature in a company’s business plan. "Know thy market and competitor" Yes, your patent may give you meaningful exclusivity in the market. But did you know that almost all patent data is public, so a wealth of market and competitor data can be freely extracted from this data?  Look at websites like patentlyapple.com, which speculates what the tech firm’s next big thing is likely to be. How did they get this information? Just type Google Patents. Knowing how your competitor’s technology works is only a few clicks away. How does this relate to your patent? Your attorney has carefully chosen their words so your patent will yield the best protection possible. Those keywords can also be used to perform a competitor keyword search. But are you really going to read all those documents found by the search paragraph by paragraph (written in legal jargon)? There is an alternative way to review this information visually-as a patent landscape. Patent landscaping is a tool to graphically represent patent data. The landscape can be used to provide valuable insights into freedom to operate, competitor technology and how your patents are positioned in the market Getting a return on investment So, now you understand the landscape that your technology sits in, you should be in a better position to think about exploiting the IP to bring in revenue. You may initially think of licensing your technology. However a potential licensor may not be as obvious as you think. Let’s explain this with an example. Company X, with a highly specialised IP portfolio (in the flow dynamics sector) explored the option to use their IP in other market sectors. Landscape analysis revealed that several of their patents were relevant to the vacuum industry. A license agreement was agreed with a company in this sector, generating new revenue. It pays to discuss license options with IP specialists. Costs Maintaining patents can become extremely expensive. If you’re a tech company, you are bound to have a growing patent portfolio, with costs increasing quickly. To a large extent, these costs are predictable. Say you start with an initial UK filing, followed by a PCT application and national phase applications in the USA, Canada, Europe (i.e. Germany & France), China and Korea. Your attorney should be able to provide you with highly accurate predictions of the costs to maintain these patents for the next 5-10 years. Wouldn’t that make your life easier when drawing up your 5-year budget plans? I hope these 3 examples will make you dust off that patent, put it on the agenda of your next management team meeting and call your Attorney or IP specialist. READ MORE

Why boosting connectivity should be top of the election agenda

Why boosting connectivity should be top of the election agenda

Jim Rogers, practice leader at Grant Thornton Thames Valley, outlines his wish list for the new government to support the continued growth of a vibrant, productive economy. With change comes opportunity, so ahead of the next general election on 8th June, we have developed a manifesto, identifying some key areas that we believe the new government should prioritise, to ensure that our economy is supported. One of the key issues for us to tackle is how we can help connect the Thames Valley’s thriving large businesses with its ambitious start-ups to foster innovation. Creating purposeful connections between businesses of all sizes will be essential to allow the region’s economy to flourish. This was the focus of our recent Thames Valley Live Lab event, held as part of a national inquiry that brought together the region’s representatives from academia, business, the public sector, and arts and culture. The goal was to discuss how we can help businesses in the Thames Valley create connections with a purpose and make it a fantastic place to live and work. In the UK – and especially in Oxford – there is an opportunity to combine technology where we have cutting edge capability with more established sectors to create new scale-up disruptors. This could enable the UK to be at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Encouraging the development of ‘collab-innovation’ activities, bringing together universities, smaller start-ups, larger corporates and specific expertise will help commercialise research and partnerships and scale-up businesses. One way that we would suggest this activity could be encouraged, is to reintroduce an updated corporate venturing tax relief scheme to incentivise UK corporates to invest in smaller British businesses, and review the disincentives to corporate venturing with action to remove these. In 2010 the government abolished tax incentives for corporate venturing, and at Grant Thornton, we have identified a number of tax and accounting disincentives that could be removed. Access to finance will also be incredibly important. As well as impact investing, corporate venturing can help with larger corporates investing some of their balance sheet in fair partnerships to scale-up smaller British businesses. The UK’s largest corporates hold £224 billion in cash on balance sheets but currently invest less than £300 million in corporate venturing. Widening the use of supply chain finance and encouraging larger corporates to leverage their balance sheet will improve access to finance for smaller British suppliers, helping to develop innovation, export and supply chain resilience. In the face of an ever-accelerating global change in the economy, the government must ensure that we have a long-term plan for UK and international growth that unlocks the full potential of the UK as a positive contributor to global economy. If we can help the Thames Valley’s businesses collaborate and tap into the region’s potential, we can shape a creative and innovative whole which is greater than the sum of the parts, making it a place where dynamic businesses can thrive. READ MORE

Giving your Clients a Perfect Service: Four top tips from the King’s Centre Team

Giving your Clients a Perfect Service: Four top tips from the King’s Centre Team

Here at the King’s Centre we pride ourselves on our quality of service. Our clients tell us time after time that they love being accommodated by us as we respond to their every need! Here are four top tips for giving your clients a perfect service: 1)     Be attentive to detail From the very first phone call, it’s vital that you fully understand what the client wants. What they need might be slightly different, but it’s your job to get those two things to line up.  Let the client know that you’ve understood them by repeating back key details from what they’ve told you. Then try to listen out for what is important to them: What is the one factor which means this client will come to us and get a great service? 2)     Be prepared to pass on the baton! It’s also so important to make accurate, well structured notes when interacting with your client. The perfect service is a team game, and details expressed at each level of the chain need to make it all the way through. The relay baton will need to be passed further down the line at some stage, and it is vital that the client’s needs are easily understood. Make sure everything is consistent between what you have on record and what the client is expecting. 3)     Always think ahead At every stage of interaction with a client you need to be thinking on your toes.  Given what they’ve asked for, what problems might this client face? Would there be a more suitable option for them? Are there things which the client needs that even they haven’t realized yet? If these things cost money, how can we convey that cost to the client without it seeming like we’re adding hidden charges? Some things are time sensitive. Keep an eye on the period ahead of you to make sure the client gets everything they need on time Each client is different, and you have to have the flexibility to face challenges which arise at short notice, but thinking forward will keep you in good stead. 4)     Relationship is key In the events industry, every client thinks that their event is the event of the year. And why not? We know that the venue space we provide is often the last thought for someone who is hosting an event. We want our clients to know that we understand that every event, conference, meeting, exam, away day or awards dinner is just as important in our eyes. So we treat each client with the same high level of respect. In this, relationship is key. We want to know what our clients do. What are they working on? How has their day been? Behind each event is a group of people. Good relationship benefits us both and ensures that each of our clients feels well looked after. We’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg, but providing perfect service is crucial in getting our business ventures off the ground. Having a great idea or product just isn’t enough in a competitive marketplace. Nowadays, how you serve is just as important as what you serve. READ MORE

How start-ups can make the most of R&D Tax Credits?

How start-ups can make the most of R&D Tax Credits?

If you’re a UK start-up you may already have heard about R&D Tax Credits. But do you know exactly what they are? You’re not alone if the density of information and advice available to new companies has left you in the dark. So, in one sentence: research and development (R&D) tax credits are a form of tax benefit designed to reward UK companies for innovation. Who can claim? Any UK limited company which, at its own financial risk, is looking to resolve a ‘technical or scientific uncertainty’ can claim. So, if you’ve set up a company to create a brand-new product or process, or to significantly improve on existing ones, then there’s a good chance you’ll qualify. And it isn’t limited to a particular industry: whether you’re innovating in Nano-tech, software development, or food manufacture, you are equally eligible. What costs qualify? You can claim for expenditure that directly relates to the development activity, such as the salary and subcontractor costs of the people involved, materials used for prototyping, even certain software purchases. What does it mean for your company? An injection of cash can be a life saver for companies desperate to innovate and stay ahead of the competition. That’s the potential outcome of an R&D Tax Credits claim. It can come in the form of a refund of corporation tax; a tax credit that can be surrendered for cash; or tax relief to put against future tax bills. Understandably, there are qualifying criteria, but you could ultimately receive between 20-33% of your development spend. ‘But hold on, we’re not trading yet …’ Profit? What profit? As an innovative start-up, your profit may still seem like a distant dream. But R&D Tax Credits aren’t only for those companies already turning a profit. In fact, companies running at a significant loss are more likely to receive the most benefit from the scheme: a generous 33p for every £1 of qualifying costs. So, whether you are currently loss making, in profit, or at pre-revenue stage, you can claim for R&D Tax Credits. Tips on maximising your claim First things first, make sure that everything you pay out on development goes through your company accounts. Include your accountant in R&D Tax Credit discussions. They are best positioned to advise you on how this can be used by your company moving forward. That said, keep in mind that your accountant may only have a rudimentary knowledge of the R&D scheme (you can’t expect them to be experts in every field of taxation). Finally, if you’re looking to make a claim, the simplest and most headache-free way to do so is by engaging the services of an R&D specialist. Even if you think there’s only a slim chance you qualify, a short chat with them will set you straight. And most R&D specialists will be happy to provide this initial consultation without it costing you a penny. READ MORE

Why intellectual property is no longer a purely legal matter…or why it shouldn’t be?

Why intellectual property is no longer a purely legal matter…or why it shouldn’t be?

The title may cause some upheaval with my attorney colleagues and lawyer friends, but I am willing to take that risk. Since you decided to give this article a try, I have a feeling that you already know what IP, short for intellectual property, is so I will spare you the pitch on patents, trade marks, designs etc. and why you should have them. Historically, IP was a matter requiring legal professionals as it was and still is used to obtain exclusive rights to keep competitors out, secure (some) exclusivity in the market and/or protect your brand. In case someone infringes these rights, you are entitled to act. So far, my title doesn’t seem to hold, does it? The consequence of having IP “managed” by legal professionals is that it has become rather complicated to understand from an outsiders point of view. One may be able to understand the technical side of a patent, however only very few CEOs are aware of e.g. the patenting process and the time and costs involved. Just ask your finance director... Note that I refer to the CEO as IP is often left to be managed by him or her. In effect, you leave something extremely important, expensive and complicated to the leading figure of the company, with the board expecting him/her to manage it correctly. Sadly, many CEOs do not comprehend IP well enough to manage it correctly, or exploit it fully or can spend enough time on IP matters. Just check that meagre 1-page IP section somewhere in chapter 6 of the company’s business plan. If advice is required, this advice often comes from, yes, legal professionals (and hey presto! we have come full circle!!). Now I ask you, what if you could get your information from someone who speaks your language, or even better, from the Internet? Management of IP requires a specialist Some large corporates or well informed SMEs employ IP managers, specialists in IP management taking the burden of IP from the CEO. Interestingly they often do not have a legal background but come from R&D, marketing or commercial roles and picked up IP expertise along the way.So, what is it that these people do that an attorney cannot? For a start, don’t be surprised if your first encounter with these specialists will not focus on IP at all, but solely on the business, the objectives, vision, sales, marketing, R&D and product management. To many CEOs surprise, such IP audits reveal hidden knowledge that could unlock extra revenue streams. Only when all this information is digested, the company’s IP strategy can be formed. Secondly, mapping your competitor’s IP and making sense of it is only rarely part of the usual attorneys’ offering. Isn’t that ironic, blocking competitors via IP is their speciality, but mapping and understanding your competitors’ IP and the strategic impact is not? Both exercises do not necessarily require an attorney, do they? I already mentioned that IP can be used to unlock new revenue streams, think licensing. Yes, licensing deals are a speciality in the legal profession, but ask yourself this: what is the value of the IP you are going to license? Ask you accountant or attorney and be ready for a frown or two. Only very few specialists exist that are creditable IP valuers whose opinion counts, and are expert witnesses. Big Data and Intellectual Property I mentioned the internet. IP is public and databases such as Espacenet and WIPO can be accessed free of charge. Now what would happen if you cross all this data with other databases and smart algorithms (think Big Data)? Recent developments have resulted in powerful database tools that enable IP spending, geographical information, portfolio size and even litigation status information to be presented in clear infographics and, best of all, in a matter of seconds and without consulting a legal professional. Unsurprisingly, these systems are finding their way into the IP manager’s toolbox. Finally, traditional IP firms have started to offer additional IP services by hiring non-legal staff to meet the changes in IP services or collaborate with specialist service providers, acknowledging the change. Better awareness about how to use IP, technological advances and the acknowledgement from the legal community can only means one thing: IP is changing and you should not miss out benefiting from it! READ MORE

Programme: People in a Scale-up

Programme: People in a Scale-up

Find out more about Nicola, her session 'People in a Scale-up' and who should attend. 16:00 in the Vale, at Venturefest Oxford 2017. READ MORE

What would the cost of a cyber attack be to your business?

What would the cost of a cyber attack be to your business?

Cyber attacks are becoming regular headline news and shouldn’t be ignored. If your company holds data, the cost of a cyber attack could put you out of business! High-profile cyber-attacks on companies such as Sony have raised awareness of the growing threat of cyber crime. Recent surveys conducted by Symantec and other cyber-security organisations suggest that many small business owners are still operating under a false sense of security. Don’t Equate Small with Safe Despite significant cyber security exposures, 85 per cent of small business owners believe their company is safe from hackers, viruses, malware and data breaches. This disconnect is largely due to the widespread, albeit mistaken, belief that small businesses are unlikely targets for cyber attacks. In reality, data thieves are simply looking for the path of least resistance. Symantec’s study found that 40 per cent of attacks are against organisations with fewer than 500 employees. Attacks Could Destroy Your Business Small businesses are becoming increasingly attractive targets—and the results are often devastating for small business owners. The cost of an individual security breach can vary, depending on the type of data compromised and the amount of data taken. However, cyber attacks can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, and most small businesses don’t have that kind of money lying around. Businesses are required to keep personal and sensitive data safe in order to comply with the Data Protection Act, and violations of the Act can result in substantial sanctions from the Information Commissioner. However, many businesses continue to put off making necessary improvements to their cyber security protocols until it is too late because they fear the costs of security would be prohibitive. 10 Ways to Prevent Cyber Attacks Even if you don’t have the resources to ask an outside expert to test your systems and make recommendations, there are simple, economical steps you can take to reduce the risk of a costly cyber attack: Train employees in cyber security principles. Install, use and regularly update antivirus and antispyware software on every computer used. Use a firewall for your internet connection. Download and install software updates for your operating systems and applications as they become available. Make back-up copies of important business data and information. Control physical access to your computers and network components. If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace, make sure it is secure and hidden. Require password-protected individual user accounts for each employee. Limit employee access to data and information, and limit authority to install software. Regularly change passwords. Protect your business A data breach could cripple your business, costing you thousands or millions of pounds in lost sales, damages or sanctions. If you hold data, Cyber Liability cover should form part of your insurance programme. To find out more, contact FOCUS.  We can arrange the cover you need to protect your company against losses from cyber attacks. Paul Monaco, Commercial Insurance Manager READ MORE

A global competition to create a more connected and collaborative Oxford has been launched today.

A global competition to create a more connected and collaborative Oxford has been launched today.

The Smart Oxford Playable City Commission is a new competition, challenging creatives from around the world to produce an idea that puts people and play at the heart of Oxford. Smart Oxford will work with Playable City to choose a project that will capture the imagination of those who live, visit and work in and around Oxford. Applicants from across the globe are invited to respond to the theme the ‘shared city’ by 20 June with the winner being awarded £30,000 to develop their idea. Artists, designers, architects, technologists and creative practitioners who can demonstrate a history of delivering high-quality, innovative practice are invited to propose distinctive ideas on the theme, using smart city technologies, that will make the city of Oxford more connected and collaborative. Judging the entries will be former deputy prime minister and chair of the Haymarket Group The Rt Hon. the Lord Heseltine CH, who will lead the panel. He will be joined by renowned designer and founding partner of Umbrellium Usman Haque. The complete judging panel will be announced with the shortlist in July. Sebastian Johnson, Vice-Chair of Smart Oxford and Principal Economic Development Officer at Oxford City Council, said: “We are partnering with Playable City during 2017 to deliver this flagship project to help people understand the opportunities and benefits that can be achieved through the combination of technology, data and communities. This is an innovation-led project that is open, inclusive, accessible and engaging. Our hope is that it will catch the imagination of all who live, visit and work in and around Oxford.” The commission in Oxford follows on from success in Bristol where Playable City launched in 2012. Hilary O'Shaughnessy, producer of Playable City, said: “We are delighted to share this brilliant new opportunity to partner with our first UK city outside of Bristol. Working across the globe from Texas to Tokyo, we have seen the power of creative technology and play to showcase the diversity of experience in cities in new ways. We are excited to see what will be commissioned for Oxford.” Llewellyn Morgan, Smart Oxford board member and Service Manager Infrastructure, Innovation and Development for Communities at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “This is an exciting time for Oxford and Oxfordshire with many major developments happening now and planned for the future. “Smart cities are the future and this competition highlights Oxford as being at the heart of a truly exciting time for technology, innovation and collaboration. “The city has rightly gained a reputation for culture, technology and achievement and this competition challenges entrants to come up with concepts that combine all three in ways that will enhance local areas and engage people in new and interactive ways with where they live and work.”   Timetable Open for applications: 9 May 2017 Close of applications: 20 June 2017, 16.00 (BST) Shortlist published: July 2017 Successful Commission announced: August 2017 Production of Award:  Autumn - Winter 2017 How to apply Please download the Applicant Overview for details on how to apply. http://wshd.to/smartoxfordplayablecity Judging The panel will comprise of industry judges at the forefront of art, society, and technology. It will be chaired by Lord Heseltine who will be joined by Usman Haque. The complete judging panel will be announced with the shortlist. What is the Smart Oxford Playable City Commission? The Smart Oxford Playable City Commission is a brand new commission produced by Watershed, challenging creatives from around the world to produce an idea that puts people and play at the heart of the city of Oxford.  Smart Oxford will work with Playable City to choose a project that will catch the imagination of those who live, study, visit and work in and around Oxford. Playable City has worked in nine cities across five continents in recent years, but this is the first time the Playable City model has been used in the UK outside of the annual Award. About Smart Oxford Smart Oxford is the strategic programme of a wide range of city partners working together to develop and promote Oxford as a smart city. It represents a commitment by its partners to develop efficient and effective use of data and technology for the benefit of its citizens. The Smart Oxford project board helps initiate, orchestrate and support smart city activities and projects carried out by its partners in Oxford and Oxfordshire. The vision of Smart Oxford is of a city where innovative ideas, active citizens, and aligned stakeholders come together to co-create a better Oxford, one that is stronger, safer, and both economically and environmentally sustainable.  http://oxfordsmartcity.uk About Playable City Playable City is a framework to think differently about the city, generating social dialogue by creating shared experiences through play. Visible, democratic, surprising, inclusive – it reuses the city infrastructure to create connections – person to person, person to city. By transforming city spaces into places of unexpected interaction the Playable City is a conversation starter towards the change we would like to see in our cities of the future. The Playable City international network reaches from the Tokyo to Recife, Brazil to Lagos, Nigeria. You can read more at http://www.playablecity.com. Watershed is the founder and producer of Playable City. About Watershed Watershed is a cultural venue and producer developing cultural engagement, imagination and talent. We are based in Bristol, but place no boundaries on our desire to connect with artists and audiences in the wider world. We curate ideas, spaces and talent to enable artistic visions and creative collaborations to flourish. We produce work that cuts across film, media, music, theatre, design, visual art, and the creative and technology sectors. http://www.watershed.co.uk For more information contact: Oxford City Council Press office 01865 252096 [email protected] For all things Smart Oxford visit: https://oxfordsmartcity.uk Twitter: @OxfordSmartCity For all things Playable City visit: https://www.playablecity.com Twitter: @PlayableCity   Published: Tuesday, 9th May 2017 https://www.oxford.gov.uk/news/article/447/smart_oxford_playable_city_competition_launched READ MORE

Recruitment top tip #1 – Getting the first few hires right

Recruitment top tip #1 – Getting the first few hires right

  Recruiting into start-ups does have some unique challenges. In this series of short videos, Nicola Gardiner shares her wealth of experience and some practical tips to ensure a more successful outcome. After setting the bar on the level of knowledge and experience necessary for any role, the next challenge is making sure the right attributes and diversity of views are present around the board table, in order to create a highly effective management team. READ MORE

A perplexing beast: the entrepreneur’s guide to a university

A perplexing beast: the entrepreneur’s guide to a university

For the entrepreneur, a university can be a treasure-house of new knowledge and skills that are just waiting for commercial application. But it can also be a perplexing beast, large, looking in several directions at once and driven by forces quite alien to business. If you’ve ever wondered how to make the beast work for you, here are my five steps to success. [caption id="attachment_3276" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Entrepreneurs find working with universities brings a wealth of talent, innovation and skills to their business.[/caption] 1.     Be clear what you want Are you looking to chat with that professor who made the intriguing presentation to a conference last month? Or do you want to find the best student in robotics to come on a placement with you for a year? Do you want to test your prototype in those impressive labs? Or perhaps you want a partner in a funding bid for collaborative R&D? Whether it’s an expert opinion, a willing pair of hands or some systematic work on a challenging problem, there are many options, and it’s best to clarify your thoughts in advance. Ask what’s the level of input, the scale of the task – and of course your budget. And be prepared to change your mind! 2.     Find the door Universities do not have call centres, or menus of options to guide you to the right department and even this can be a challenge, since there can be many points of entry. You can usually approach a known contact directly, and if you’re lucky there may also be a helpful gateway for people like yourself, clearly signposted, that can advise and make sure your contact is followed through. However you should expect to spend some time on this stage, and persevere to find the best contact.   3.     Know the motivation Why would a university want to work with you? In fact, there are many potential reasons, and it helps to understand the basics. Broadly, a university is driven by two needs - to attract good students and to carry out excellent research. The student experience is enhanced by links with innovative companies, and by lecturers who are engaged with the latest developments in their field. Research is no longer an activity solely for the ivory tower; it must have impact, whether that’s in curing disease or helping economic growth. As an individual, the professor you are dealing with will want case studies for teaching, material for research papers, opportunities to test ideas in practice – not to mention a welcome break from the lecture theatre or laboratory! Bear in mind that there may be little structure for ‘command and control’; academic staff have considerable autonomy in deciding what to work on.   4.     Light the spark With this in mind, it’s no surprise that in the end it’s all about people. Can you find that point of personal connection, the shared enthusiasm for a challenge? Lighting the spark of a good relationship is often the key to finding a route to success. 5.     Follow the money To acquire serious input from a top expert is naturally not without a price; a university may be a non-profit body, but it’s expected to realise a ‘fair and reasonable’ return from its resources. However, there are many ways in which the entrepreneurial user can find support at modest cost: student projects apply bright young minds to a real-world problem, and no money changes hands. Or consider KTPs, which attract government funds worth £50,000 per annum for an innovation project, and lead to an average increase in annual profit of more than £1 million. A university will have opportunities for funding from sources you probably haven’t thought of, so it’s always worthwhile to ask. Oxford Brookes University – making your business our business. Talk to us [email protected] or 01865 484204. READ MORE

An opportunity for plenty of good conversation

An opportunity for plenty of good conversation

The second TechTonic event provided an opportunity for plenty of good conversation, which included some meeting some new friends and much hilarity. Its amazing what a few glasses of bubbles will do, and not to mention the box of chocolates doing the rounds! The ladies were treated to a really inspiration talk from Jackie Jarvis who shared her experiences of walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Jackie discovered that it led her to rethinking how she lives her life and has made changes to her own business as a result. In a nutshell, she finds time to slow down, think and make real choices about what she does, how she does it and who she does it with!. Jackie has a new book about her Pursuit of Slow coming out next month so watch this space. [gallery size="medium" ids="eyJ1cmwiOmZhbHNlLCJ0aXRsZSI6bnVsbCwiY2FwdGlvbiI6ZmFsc2UsImFsdCI6IiIsImRlc2NyaXB0aW9uIjpudWxsfQ==,eyJ1cmwiOmZhbHNlLCJ0aXRsZSI6bnVsbCwiY2FwdGlvbiI6ZmFsc2UsImFsdCI6IiIsImRlc2NyaXB0aW9uIjpudWxsfQ==,eyJ1cmwiOmZhbHNlLCJ0aXRsZSI6bnVsbCwiY2FwdGlvbiI6ZmFsc2UsImFsdCI6IiIsImRlc2NyaXB0aW9uIjpudWxsfQ=="]   The next event will be a TechTonic conference, to be held at Venturefest Oxford on 21st June, at The King's Centre in Osney Mead. The theme will be 'the impact of gender on entrepreneurism'. Join them for a stimulating morning of talks and shared activities. READ MORE

Celebrating innovation and entrepreneurship in Oxfordshire

Celebrating innovation and entrepreneurship in Oxfordshire

Now in their 12th year, the annual Oxford Trust Enterprise Awards recognise and celebrate the breadth of innovative companies and individual science entrepreneurs working in the Oxford region. The 2017 award ceremony will take place on 20th June at The King’s Centre on Osney Mead in Oxford and is run in partnership with Venturefest Oxford. The awards support entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their journey to success – in ground-breaking life sciences, cutting-edge engineering, and boundary-pushing digital technologies. They also reward established businesses who have made an impact on the regional economy. Over the last 12 years, around 40 individual businesses have won an enterprise award. [caption id="attachment_3163" align="aligncenter" width="768"] Adaptix receiving the innovation award in 2016[/caption] This year the awards are sponsored by Barclays, Triteq and Marks & Clerk. The award categories are: the Barclays Award for Innovation; the Triteq Young Entrepreneurs Award; and the Marks & Clark Best Pitch for Technology. Both the Triteq and Marks & Clark awards will recognise companies that feature in Pitchfest – Venturefest’s growing programme of pitching events for new ideas. The Barclays Award for Innovation is given to an organisation that has spotted an opportunity in the market and created a new product that benefits society and the economy. Previous winners have been Mirada Medical and Immunocore – now a billion dollar company – and last year’s winners were Adaptix. They’ve developed a portable x-ray machine the size of laptop that will transform healthcare by reducing the number of hospital visits and providing access to hard-to-reach areas. Brilliant. The final presentation will be the Oxford Trust Lifetime Achievement Award. This will be given by Sir Martin and Lady (Audrey) Wood, founders of The Oxford Trust and celebrates an entrepreneur who’s had a major positive impact on enterprise, our economy and local communities. It is a great evening and, what’s more, you get to drink science-themed cocktails! Here’s to the future of science and technology in our region. READ MORE

Pitchfest Review 2017

Pitchfest Review 2017

Our 6th Pitchfest was held at Oxford Brookes University on Wednesday 22nd. A record 32 entrepreneurs pitched to a large audience of investors and support services with businesses ranging from snack boxes and science boxes to stocks & shares and satellites! [gallery order="DESC" ids="eyJ1cmwiOmZhbHNlLCJ0aXRsZSI6bnVsbCwiY2FwdGlvbiI6ZmFsc2UsImFsdCI6IiIsImRlc2NyaXB0aW9uIjpudWxsfQ==,eyJ1cmwiOmZhbHNlLCJ0aXRsZSI6bnVsbCwiY2FwdGlvbiI6ZmFsc2UsImFsdCI6IiIsImRlc2NyaXB0aW9uIjpudWxsfQ==,eyJ1cmwiOmZhbHNlLCJ0aXRsZSI6bnVsbCwiY2FwdGlvbiI6ZmFsc2UsImFsdCI6IiIsImRlc2NyaXB0aW9uIjpudWxsfQ=="]   While the majority of the businesses are based in Oxfordshire, we were delighted to welcome participants from further afield, even Norway! Some great contacts were made and good conversations were enjoyed by all. Our thanks to Oxford Brookes University for hosting and to Imageworks design agency for sponsoring the event. READ MORE

Pitchfest November 2016 in the Media

Pitchfest November 2016 in the Media

Pitchfest was in a recent Oxford Times feature. The one-day event brought together several investors and high-tech start-ups for a day of pitching and networking at Unipart.  Over 20 companies pitched to investors on the day, which saw a range of startups from mobile apps to electric motorcycles, from electronic patient records to a bike-sharing scheme. Venturefest Oxford executive chairwoman Lynn Shepherd was pleased with how well the session went and felt it would lead to companies attracting investment. The next Pitchfest will be held in February. Pitchfest is run by Venturefest Oxford, who also runs a major showcase for businesses and investors in June. This year it was held at the King's Centre in Osney Mead and attracted 1,000 delegates. READ MORE

Why you need an Intellectual Property (IP) strategy

Why you need an Intellectual Property (IP) strategy

“Do you have IP?”, “have you secured your invention and/or brand?” I bet you have heard these questions at least once during your entrepreneurial career. The members of Dragon’s Den just love to bring up the Intellectual Property (IP) subject when grilling the brave entrepreneur on national TV. Not surprisingly, as IP is considered a risk-reducing asset that, if present, shows the entrepreneur knows what he or she is doing. Drop the IP subject at a networking breakfast session and thoughts about marble-floored law offices in the Shard, expensive Harvey Spectrelike 3-piece suits (SuitsÒ, a US-TV show) and pay-by-the-hour for a phone enquiry rise quickly. After all, IP is a legal matter, a necessary expense right? IP matters are often addressed during critical phases such as inventions, fund raising, infringement, M&As, insolvencies etc. At these times, a consultant (i.e. attorney) is hired to tend to IP matters, hence IP is booked as an expense on the balance sheet. With over 80% of an SME’s value in so called intangible assets (of which IP is a large part of), it is surprising that the subject that is crucial to the business is not constantly checked and updated by the management. IP should be in alignment with the company’s business plan (and deserves more than that 1½ a page section in the business plan, please). For instance, UK-based company A is focussed to grow via franchising, hence their brand is of key value. Their brands are protected in the UK, but their marketing has already reached the EU (hello Brexit...) and China, increasing the risk for copycats. Just Google StarbucksÒ vs Xingbake. It’s not all bad however. Within the Oxfordshire region, the importance of securing inventions via patents is well understood and the entrepreneur has a plethora of capable providers to choose from. Inventions often form the basis of the company and are protected by patents, which include a list of claims to keep the competition out. As the majority of companies’ exit strategy is to sell the business, IP due diligence and valuation highlight the strength and value of the IP portfolios. Did you know that carefully drafted patents with brief and broad (rather than that lengthy lists of) claims easily are worth one more digit? Add a second digit if it could be used for litigation purposes. The key message here is make sure your IP is treated like your product development, marketing and sales. It requires a strategy to get the most value out of it, otherwise it remains an expense and liability. The strategy should outline processes to capture, protect, value and monetise the IP during the entire lifetime of the company, from foundation to exit, and involve all members of the company. Table 1 shows an overview of some of the key factors to consider in developing an IP strategy. Companies that provide this commercial and legal IP advice, such as Coller IP, are present in Oxfordshire to address these challenges.   READ MORE

Why you need an Intellectual Property (IP) strategy

Why you need an Intellectual Property (IP) strategy

“Do you have IP?”, “have you secured your invention and/or brand?” I bet you have heard these questions at least once during your entrepreneurial career. The members of Dragon’s Den just love to bring up the Intellectual Property (IP) subject when grilling the brave entrepreneur on national TV. Not surprisingly, as IP is considered a risk-reducing asset that, if present, shows the entrepreneur knows what he or she is doing. Drop the IP subject at a networking breakfast session and thoughts about marble-floored law offices in the Shard, expensive Harvey Spectrelike 3-piece suits (SuitsÒ, a US-TV show) and pay-by-the-hour for a phone enquiry rise quickly. After all, IP is a legal matter, a necessary expense right? IP matters are often addressed during critical phases such as inventions, fund raising, infringement, M&As, insolvencies etc. At these times, a consultant (i.e. attorney) is hired to tend to IP matters, hence IP is booked as an expense on the balance sheet. With over 80% of an SME’s value in so called intangible assets (of which IP is a large part of), it is surprising that the subject that is crucial to the business is not constantly checked and updated by the management. IP should be in alignment with the company’s business plan (and deserves more than that 1½ a page section in the business plan, please). For instance, UK-based company A is focussed to grow via franchising, hence their brand is of key value. Their brands are protected in the UK, but their marketing has already reached the EU (hello Brexit...) and China, increasing the risk for copycats. Just Google StarbucksÒ vs Xingbake. It’s not all bad however. Within the Oxfordshire region, the importance of securing inventions via patents is well understood and the entrepreneur has a plethora of capable providers to choose from. Inventions often form the basis of the company and are protected by patents, which include a list of claims to keep the competition out. As the majority of companies’ exit strategy is to sell the business, IP due diligence and valuation highlight the strength and value of the IP portfolios. Did you know that carefully drafted patents with brief and broad (rather than that lengthy lists of) claims easily are worth one more digit? Add a second digit if it could be used for litigation purposes. The key message here is make sure your IP is treated like your product development, marketing and sales. It requires a strategy to get the most value out of it, otherwise it remains an expense and liability. The strategy should outline processes to capture, protect, value and monetise the IP during the entire lifetime of the company, from foundation to exit, and involve all members of the company. Table 1 shows an overview of some of the key factors to consider in developing an IP strategy. Companies that provide this commercial and legal IP advice, such as Coller IP, are present in Oxfordshire to address these challenges.   READ MORE

Earn From Innovating with Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credits

Earn From Innovating with Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credits

Are you a company that is forward thinking, that looks at ways to improve efficiencies in your methods, processes, functions? Is your company involved in designing, making, constructing, manufacturing or otherwise creating new or improved products or systems? If so, chances are you are entitled to claim R&D tax credits. Furthermore if you are a small- or medium-sized enterprise then you meet the criteria to claim the most generous of the R&D Tax Credit relief schemes the government has to offer. Under the SME scheme, on average you could claim £26 of every £100 you spend; if you are loss making, as many innovating start-ups are, then a claim could result in a cash payment of up to £33 of every £100 spent. This valuable tax relief scheme was first introduced 16 years ago to encourage innovation in the UK, and it has been tweaked over the years to make it easier for businesses to claim. So you would think that after all this time every business that is eligible for these would now be claiming them? That is not the case at all! Many great businesses are missing out on this valuable relief, which can mean a significant cash subsidy from the Government. Why are so few companies claiming? The main reason is that businesses and their advisors do not realise that some or all of their activities and expenditure qualify. This is not helped by the common misconception that the relief is only available to certain industries, such as pharmaceuticals or engineering, which is not the case – all innovating industries can benefit. While it is improving, the design, publicising and administration of the scheme has attributed to it going under the radar for many businesses. Think you might qualify? Should you wish to know more about these tax credits, or wish to discuss whether or not you may be missing out please contact RIFT R&D Tax Credits on 01233 653002 or email [email protected] READ MORE

Win a free place on the FAB Accelerator programme

Win a free place on the FAB Accelerator programme

The FAB Accelerator is Oxford's new programme for entrepreneurs and startups. The programme involves 12 weekly sessions that will get new businesses launch-ready and finishes with a pitch session. FAB begins on 19 September 2016. They are offering a chance to win a free place for up to 3 co-founders, worth £1000. The deadline is 9 September 2016. Download the flyer for more details. fabaccelerator.com READ MORE

Earn From Innovating with Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credits

Earn From Innovating with Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credits

Are you a company that is forward thinking, that looks at ways to improve efficiencies in your methods, processes, functions? Is your company involved in designing, making, constructing, manufacturing or otherwise creating new or improved products or systems? If so, chances are you are entitled to claim R&D tax credits. Furthermore if you are a small- or medium-sized enterprise then you meet the criteria to claim the most generous of the R&D Tax Credit relief schemes the government has to offer. Under the SME scheme, on average you could claim £26 of every £100 you spend; if you are loss making, as many innovating start-ups are, then a claim could result in a cash payment of up to £33 of every £100 spent. This valuable tax relief scheme was first introduced 16 years ago to encourage innovation in the UK, and it has been tweaked over the years to make it easier for businesses to claim. So you would think that after all this time every business that is eligible for these would now be claiming them? That is not the case at all! Many great businesses are missing out on this valuable relief, which can mean a significant cash subsidy from the Government. Why are so few companies claiming? The main reason is that businesses and their advisors do not realise that some or all of their activities and expenditure qualify. This is not helped by the common misconception that the relief is only available to certain industries, such as pharmaceuticals or engineering, which is not the case – all innovating industries can benefit. While it is improving, the design, publicising and administration of the scheme has attributed to it going under the radar for many businesses. Think you might qualify? Should you wish to know more about these tax credits, or wish to discuss whether or not you may be missing out please contact RIFT R&D Tax Credits on 01233 653002 or email [email protected] READ MORE

inbusiness: TechTonic network for female entrepreneurs

inbusiness: TechTonic network for female entrepreneurs

The July 2016 Business Diary section of The Oxford Times inbusiness (see page 54) featured the recently launched TechTonic networking group for aspirational women who want to deliver. Co-founder Nicola McConville of Penningtons Manches said: Two things planted the seed in my head. The first was hearing about the funding and tech landscape in Cambridge where a group of female business angels support female entrepreneurs. I asked a few people here if they could name a female business investor, other than Oxford Instruments Audrey Wood and people struggled to come up with a name. The second was realising there were few all-women panels or female keynote speakers at tech events. Other co-founders include Sue Staunton of James Cowper and Executive Chair of Venturefest, Lynn Shepherd who noted: More and more women are either part of the tech sector or are wanting to join it. We are still in the minority - you only have to sit around a meeting table and count the number of ladies present, but if we can strengthen that voice and encourage more to just do it, I will be quite happy TechTonic was launched at Venturefest in June 2016, look out for more announcements in our newsletter.       READ MORE

Fund your ideas the bootstrapped way!

Fund your ideas the bootstrapped way!

Many aspiring entrepreneurs feel they need more access to funding to help build a runway to focus on developing their idea. Start Saving For Your Ideas NOW Best thing to do before considering the array of funding options you have before embarking on your journey is to simply start saving. Commit on a weekly or monthly basis to save and store away some money as you would when saving for a car or a house. You should do your utmost best to bootstrap the start of the journey. If I left my job today to start a business I would personally minimise the capital requirements needed by doing the following steps: Save as much as possible from my current job whilst figuring out what idea I am willing to spend the next 5 years on (or rest of my life). Figure out how I can live as cheaply as possible e.g. cut out unnecessary expenses, move back into my parent’s home temporarily, cancel subscription to my cable provider, etc. Calculate my minimum monthly income, the bear minimum to maintain a decent standard of living and cover my bills. Survive on savings or get a flexible job that allows me to dedicate the majority of my time on a winning idea, e.g., graveyard shift at Sainsbury’s or Tesco from 10pm to 4am. This exert was taken from an extended article posted on Medium. Download Andy Ayim's free e-book: The-First-Time Entrepreneurs Handbook   READ MORE

Fund your ideas the bootstrapped way!

Fund your ideas the bootstrapped way!

Many aspiring entrepreneurs feel they need more access to funding to help build a runway to focus on developing their idea. Start Saving For Your Ideas NOW Best thing to do before considering the array of funding options you have before embarking on your journey is to simply start saving. Commit on a weekly or monthly basis to save and store away some money as you would when saving for a car or a house. You should do your utmost best to bootstrap the start of the journey. If I left my job today to start a business I would personally minimise the capital requirements needed by doing the following steps: Save as much as possible from my current job whilst figuring out what idea I am willing to spend the next 5 years on (or rest of my life). Figure out how I can live as cheaply as possible e.g. cut out unnecessary expenses, move back into my parent’s home temporarily, cancel subscription to my cable provider, etc. Calculate my minimum monthly income, the bear minimum to maintain a decent standard of living and cover my bills. Survive on savings or get a flexible job that allows me to dedicate the majority of my time on a winning idea, e.g., graveyard shift at Sainsbury’s or Tesco from 10pm to 4am. This exert was taken from an extended article posted on Medium. Download Andy Ayim's free e-book: The-First-Time Entrepreneurs Handbook   READ MORE

Values: What essence of you will be embedded in your business?

Values: What essence of you will be embedded in your business?

Your business has most likely started as a result of something you are passionate about. Perhaps it is a problem you have identified to be solved, or a niche in the market you have spotted. Whatever the reason, the business has started as a result of you (you in this instance can mean a collective you as well as individual). Consciously or otherwise, your values will be guiding how and what you do in your business, and will affect how you want your business to be and feel - the culture you’re creating. Growing your business means taking on people with their own values, views, experiences and influences - good and possibly not so good. So how do you keep what you have created, or want to create as you grow? Defining and articulating organisation values early in the life of the business can provide a consistent reference point for all aspects of your enterprise.  Do they support your brand and business in the eyes of your customers, suppliers and other key stakeholders? If not, how could they and will this help you/your product stand out in your industry? Use values to drive unity of approach in your leadership team and the standards and expectations of all staff. Is trust important to you? Then demonstrate this consistently in the way you work with your people – from your management style, the way in which performance is managed, how you make decisions to the reward structures you use and how you develop your people. Reflect them in your employer brand too. Being explicit about what you believe in can help you attract like-minded people who will engage readily with your business. That talent will likely stay too if values are genuinely part of how you do things, and we all know how vital retention of relevant skills and knowledge is for a growing business. Your business will change as it grows. Some change will be your choice, some not. Consciously articulating and embedding values early in your business can provide constancy and stability to navigate those changes and control your direction.  So, excuse the pun but surely that’s got to be of value to you, hasn’t it? READ MORE

Values: What essence of you will be embedded in your business?

Values: What essence of you will be embedded in your business?

Your business has most likely started as a result of something you are passionate about. Perhaps it is a problem you have identified to be solved, or a niche in the market you have spotted. Whatever the reason, the business has started as a result of you (you in this instance can mean a collective you as well as individual). Consciously or otherwise, your values will be guiding how and what you do in your business, and will affect how you want your business to be and feel - the culture you’re creating. Growing your business means taking on people with their own values, views, experiences and influences - good and possibly not so good. So how do you keep what you have created, or want to create as you grow? Defining and articulating organisation values early in the life of the business can provide a consistent reference point for all aspects of your enterprise.  Do they support your brand and business in the eyes of your customers, suppliers and other key stakeholders? If not, how could they and will this help you/your product stand out in your industry? Use values to drive unity of approach in your leadership team and the standards and expectations of all staff. Is trust important to you? Then demonstrate this consistently in the way you work with your people – from your management style, the way in which performance is managed, how you make decisions to the reward structures you use and how you develop your people. Reflect them in your employer brand too. Being explicit about what you believe in can help you attract like-minded people who will engage readily with your business. That talent will likely stay too if values are genuinely part of how you do things, and we all know how vital retention of relevant skills and knowledge is for a growing business. Your business will change as it grows. Some change will be your choice, some not. Consciously articulating and embedding values early in your business can provide constancy and stability to navigate those changes and control your direction.  So, excuse the pun but surely that’s got to be of value to you, hasn’t it? READ MORE

The Venturefest experience: What are entrepreneurs and business support saying?

The Venturefest experience: What are entrepreneurs and business support saying?

Exhibitors, entrepreneurs and business support have been blogging their views about Venturefest 2016 held at the King’s Centre in Osney Mead on 29 June. Participating in the Innovation Showcase, Mike Edwards of Meteor Power noted: We had a stand where we showed our 3D printed model of our hybrid engine and discussed our products and investment plans with motorcycle fans, potential investors and even government representatives. Meteor Power is developing high performance electric motorcycles which will be available for sale next year. They were a finalist in Pitchfest and the Oxford Trust’s Enterprise Awards programme and received the runner-up prize for Pitching for Success. Another award-winning tech start-up at this year’s Innovation Showcase was Sesui (who received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise). Sesui is an intelligent cloud-based call management and contact centre. Of Venturefest, Head of Sales, Julian Sammells said: The event was a great opportunity to showcase our contribution to Oxford’s burgeoning technology hub, and engulf ourselves in the original ideas and fresh-thinking of the newer members to our community. One of our partners, Nominet’s theUKdomain, exhibiting in the business support hub said: What we love about Venturefest is that it offers a great mix of start-up businesses, investors, mature businesses wishing to develop their digital transformation, and local business networks who support small businesses doing more online. A new Venturefest session on the link between research and innovation, organised by the Oxfordshire Science Festival sparked some interesting insights. Elizabeth Shotton, Head of Industrial Liaison at Diamond Light Source: The close collaboration between the detector group at Diamond and the team at Quantum Detectors which is afforded by the co-location on the Harwell Campus, allows the Diamond facilities to stay at the forefront of technology, benefitting all our research community. We are delighted to be showcasing this work in partnership with Quantum Detectors at the Venturefest event in Oxford. Read some session summaries Well worth a read: TheUKdomain and KyteMark Solutions blogs outline session summaries: Peter Tufano (Saïd Business School), Welcome Address Oscar O’Connor (Independent advisor), Cyber Security Panel presentation on the Internet of Things Experts in conversation, What is innovation for? Bianca Miller, Growing your Business Online How to sell to America Getting it right from the start Fundraising: Turning the cash you raise into business value What other blogs say Quantum Detectors commented that Venturefest Oxford 2016 was a success for all involved! Sian Gaskell (CubanEight), part of our lively, fun lunchtime panel discussion on innovation notes: Venturefest Oxford was an inspiring day, an opportunity to meet with some really interesting companies and people and was definitely a day well spent! Looking forward to next year. See all the delegate blogs: CubanEight KyteMark Solutions Meteor Power Quantum Detectors Sesui theUKdomain Have you written a blog about Venturefest? Tell us about it. READ MORE

Entrepreneurs get video help with Oxford Digital Media’s One Minute Pitch

Entrepreneurs get video help with Oxford Digital Media’s One Minute Pitch

As someone who has grown a business from scratch I understand how important it is to have good communications, says Oxford Digital Media MD James Tomalin.   At Venturefest on 29 June 2016, the Oxford Digital Media firm gave entrepreneurs the chance to give a One Minute Pitch to video, free of charge, to deliver their message to investors and buyers. Their eye-catching activity also promoted BBC South Today to give them some coverage during the event. James Tomalin at the One Minute Pitch booth – here being interviewed by BBC South Today (photo courtesy of Oxford Digital Media) One of the first to take part was Henrietta Nagy of Oxford Life Design: This is a very generous offer.  The ODM team are very professional and they made me feel very relaxed in front of the camera.  I'll be posting the video onto my website and on YouTube and plan to go back to ODM before too long for a follow up.   Henrietta Nagy, Oxford Life Design giving her pitch (photo courtesy of Oxford Digital Media) ODM set up the video studio on its stand at Venturefest, and scheduled in a total of 7 interviews during the day. Alex Brinkmayer and Ashley Dove-Jay of Oxford Space Systems demonstrated a carbon fibre-based material the firm has developed for use in spacecraft. It’s  really good to develop relations with local companies like Oxford Digital Media.  We use video a lot but haven’t done a general introduction to our firm. We aim to put the video on our website to catch some interest, and we’ll chop and change it into our other videos.   The Oxford Space Systems pitch by Alex Brinkmayer and Ashley Dove-Jay (photo courtesy of Oxford Digital Media)  Also taking part were Matthew Hare of Gigaclear, Said Hasnaoui of Oxfordshire Science Festival, William Cotton of online care firm TrustonTap and Venturefest Executive Chair Lynn Shepherd: Video is one of the most effective tools for any business and especially for start-ups.  I was delighted how enthusiastically everyone took up James' offer of a 1 minute video.  I did one myself and will definitely be using it to promote Venturefest.   [embedvideo type="youtube" id="v4PCngWFYkA"] James Tomalin adds: We're delighted to be able to help other entrepreneurs with this opportunity.  We have also introduced a number of people to the benefits of using video while taking the mystery out of the process.   Oxford Digital Media was a first time exhibitor at Venturefest: We had a great show.  It’s a much needed showcase for innovation in Oxfordshire and a brilliant place to experience the huge amount of energy there is in our region around technology and entrepreneurship.   Contact James Tomalin Oxford Digital Media on 01865 241007 or visit oxforddigitalmedia.co.uk     READ MORE

Venturefest Oxford highlights 2016

Venturefest Oxford highlights 2016

This year, Venturefest Oxford is celebrating its 18th anniversary and I promised that it would be bigger and better than ever before and you know, we did it! It's been more than a success! Lynn Shepherd, Executive Chair, Venturefest Oxford   [embedvideo type="youtube" id="v4PCngWFYkA"] Video courtesy of Oxford Digital Media Venturefest Oxford 2016 on 29 June proved to be one of our most successful events ever.  Our 18th anniversary milestone saw us move to a new venue at the King’s Centre in Osney Mead to offer more exhibition, innovation and networking space. The King’s Centre, increasingly being referred to as ‘the hidden gem of Oxford’, was the perfect venue to illustrate how Venturefest has come full circle over the last two decades. The King’s Centre was Oxford Instruments first factory and head office.  The first commercial spin out from Oxford University in 1959, the company developed the superconducting magnet which led to the production of the human MRI. It is where the first superconducting magnets for the human MRI were manufactured and despatched to the Siemens’ factories for shipping all over the world. The founders of Oxford Instruments, Sir Martin and Audrey Wood, also founded The Oxford Trust, one of our key partners.   A fitting place to showcase current innovations and celebrate entrepreneurship. This year’s programme featured over 80 professional speakers, including Bianca Miller (.uk Brand Ambassador, former Apprentice TV finalist & Serial Entrepreneur) Will Kintish (Kintish Networking Skills) David Willetts (former Minister for Universities and Science) Lisa Thomas (Global Head of Brand and MD Virgin Enterprises Limited) The programme also included over 20 dynamic, practical sessions on business skills, communications, digital, funding, innovation, funding and regulation.  The wide variety of workshops included a vibrant lunchtime panel asking what is innovation for, and a closing panel debate on Brexit. Lively banter at the lunchtime panel of experts Did you collect a Fact and Action card after each session with summaries of the key points? If not, there is always next year. The Facts and Action cards were a new feature of this year's programme On display throughout the day was the latest MRI system by Siemens alongside the relatively new Adaptix portable x-ray machine. Mark Evans and Gill Travish exhibiting their innovative Adaptix x-ray machine Adaptix was also one of the winners of The Oxford Trust Enterprise Awards, an initiative that was relaunched at a Gala Dinner on the eve of Venturefest. This year, in partnership with Venturefest, The Oxford Trust invited all previous Pitchfest and Pitching for Success winners to participate. Welcoming delegates to the start of event with Lynn Shepherd was Peter Tufano, Dean of the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. In the wake of the Brexit outcome, he said: Let's celebrate and enhance resilience and adaptability as entrepreneurs.   Welcome address: Dean of the Saïd Business School, Peter Tufano This tied in well with the highly anticipated Brexit debate session. Speaking as part of a panel which included Dr Marco Malacarne from the European Commission, Lord Willetts, ex Minister of State for Universities and Science said: There is a debate still to be had about whether or not we will be in the European Economic Area (EEA). One scenario is that we join and accept as part of that deal some kind of freedom of movement of people. The other option is not to be part of the EEA. The next British Government is going to have to decide on that.  It is a very difficult decision and it has not been taken yet. There is a live debate and especially cities like Oxford which are optimistic places for the future can contribute to that debate   In the spirit of seeing the pivotal role of innovation in the future of the UK economy, we had a high-level display of Oxford’s finest innovations and pitches. This year’s Pitching for Success winner was DryGro - developing a service that can grow plants in a desert using 99% less water than conventional agriculture.  The funding stream proved another day of promising pitches and investor insights, organised by Oxford Innovation. DryGro received a large cheque from our Executive Chair, Lynn Shepherd The Innovation Showcase was made up of entrepreneurs working on inventions that ranged from computer coding for kids to space tech ventures. Oxford Space Systems in the Innovation Showcase The day was buzzing with networking as delegates made use of our new Get Connected system to meet new connections in the Gigaclear-sponsored networking zone. The networking space sponsored by Gigaclear And who could miss the filming and media activity interspersed with conversations and meetups, including a visit from That’s Oxfordshire TV, The Oxford Times , BBC South and others. Filming the excitement is That's Oxfordshire TV The exhibitor hall was busier than ever and we were treated to an offer by Oxford Digital Media who filmed one-minute pitches of rising entrepreneur stars. A big thank you to our delegates, sponsors, board and everyone who worked on the event to make it possible. Thanks also to the Oxford Bus Company for providing free shuttle service to and from the King’s Centre throughout the day. The 2016 sponsors are: The Oxford Trust; Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network; University of Oxford and the Said Business School; OxLEP; Oxford Brookes University; Science & Technology Facilities Council and Nominet. If you missed this year’s event, do stay informed about the 2017 event by subscribing to our newsletter. We are sure to have future exciting announcements about the new TechTonic networking group for ‘aspirational women who deliver’ (launched at Venturefest) and the next Pitchfest event. READ MORE

The Oxford Times: Innovations promoted at another successful Venturefest event

The Oxford Times: Innovations promoted at another successful Venturefest event

A Business and Tech feature in the 7th July 2016 Oxford Times publications looks at highlights of Venturefest 2016. Delegates attended Venturefest amidst Brexit developments to network, connect, learn and find business support. Venturefest Executive Chair Lynn Shepherd notes: Businesses have to be innovative and turn Brexit into an opportunity. Oxfordshire itself voted overwhelmingly to remain, so the result of the referendum has come as a shock to the business community. Venturefest is a good opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs to meet and talk and try to find new opportunities because they are resilient and flexible. The event also showcased the latest innovative high-tech products engineered in Oxford, including: Adaptix - portable x-ray machine Meteor Power - electric motorcycle in development Oxford Brookes University - Robbie the robot Adaptix was also the winner of The Oxford Trust 2016 Enterprise Awards which recognises achievement across life sciences. Chief Executive Officer of Adaptix, Mark Evans said: Venturefest is leading on bringing people together in the business community and there is much more cohesion and co-operation as a result. The day also saw the soft launch of TechTonic, a new network for aspirational women who deliver. The network was the brain child of Nicola McConville, partner at Penningtons Manches. The event closed with a panel debate on Brexit, chaired by Lord Willetts (former Minister for Universities and Science). He spoke about Oxford's key role when negotiations begin on Britain's future outside of the European Union and mentioned the debate still to be had about whether or note the UK will be in the European Economic Area.   READ MORE

That’s Oxfordshire TV crew films Venturefest

That’s Oxfordshire TV crew films Venturefest

Celebrating our 18th anniversary on 29 June 2016, we were pleased to welcome That's Oxfordshire TV. Executive Chair Lynn Shepherd mentions the excellent track record Oxford has with innovation. This year, we moved to a bigger venue at the King's Centre in Osney Mead to showcase Oxford's innovative startups and business support. Incidentally, The King's Centre is where Oxford Instruments set up its first factory and produced the first super conducting magnet that went inside the world's first MRI system. The event displayed Siemens latest MRI system alongside the relatively new Adaptix portable x-ray machine. The video also speaks with Oxford Digital Media who were on hand to film pitches for budding entrepreneurs. Take a look at the exhibition and hear comments about the Brexit debate that closed the event. Watch video READ MORE

Oxford Mail: Oxford has major role to play post-Brexit

Oxford Mail: Oxford has major role to play post-Brexit

Oxford Mail article published on 30 June 2016: OXFORD has a major role to play when negotiations begin on Britain's future outside the EU, a former Government minister has said. Speaking yesterday at Venturefest Oxford in Osney Mead Lord Willets urged people here to make their feelings known on what the best future was for Oxford and the rest of the country. Pictured above: Lord Willets He said: There is a debate still to be had about whether or not we will be in the European Economic Area (EEA). One scenarios is that we join and accept as part of that deal some kind of freedom of movement of people. The other option is not to be part of the EEA. The next British Government is going to have to decide on that.  It is a very difficult decision and it has not been taken yet. There is a live debate and especially cities like Oxford which are optimistic places for the future can contribute to that debate. Speaking as part of a panel which included Dr Marco Malcarne from the European Commission, Lord Willetts, who was Minister of State for Universities and Science between May 2010 and July 2014, said people in areas which voted remain, such as Oxford, had to understand why people in other areas voted to leave. He said: In my former constituency of Havant in Hampshire 62 per cent of people voted for Brexit. For a lot of people who live there 20 or 30 years ago life was very simple, you went and worked in the Portsmouth dockyard and you had a job for life. If you are sitting in the council estate there and you look at all that globalisation it might not particularly benefit you. Source: Oxford Mail READ MORE

Press release: Venturefest Oxford celebrates 18 years with its most exciting programme yet

Over 1,000 delegates are expected at the Kings Centre in Oxford today on Wednesday 29 June 2016 for the county’s premier business networking event of the year: Venturefest Oxford. Now in its 18th year, Venturefest Oxford aims to be bigger and better than ever before with a host of opportunities for innovators and entrepreneurs to get support to help business growth. Staged at a larger venue in Osney Mead this year, Venturefest makes a close link to the early location for Oxford Instruments, a prime example of the innovative spirit of the county. With more space to showcase the best of innovation in Oxfordshire, the event will offer comfortable networking areas, bigger exhibitions and over two dozen workshops, sessions and keynote plenaries. The agenda for the day is packed with opportunities for visitors to acquire interesting insights and valuable advice from local industry experts. Lynn Shepherd, Executive Chair says: “Venturefest Oxford has always provided a range of opportunities to learn, share and network with all the right people in the county’s innovation ecosystem and we are very proud of this year’s exciting programme. With so much happening over a single day, Venturefest Oxford delivers an extraordinary event that helps stimulate innovation, support entrepreneurship and broker investment.” Some of the highlights of this year’s programme include: An outstanding line-up of guest speakers, including: Lisa Thomas, Global Head of Brand & Managing Director at Virgin Enterprises; Bianca Miller, runner-up of The Apprentice 2014; Mark Stevenson, entrepreneur, broadcaster, expert on global trends and innovation, and author of An Optimist’s Tour of the Future; and Will Kintish, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Networkers Over 25 free, practical, interactive sessions on funding, recruitment, protecting IP, marketing and more. Two sessions aiming to tackle the lack of knowledge about cyber security among small and medium businesses will be led by Oscar O’Connor, Lead Assessor for the Cyber Security Challenge UK and will focus particularly on businesses involved in innovation. An inspiring Innovation Showcase where thirteen budding businesses will present their ideas and solutions from hard technology to online tools. The exhibitors range from TrustonTap, which focuses on the ways technology can help transform the way we look after the elderly, to Meteor Power, a firm developing high-performance electric motorcycles, electric motors with integrated rapid charging systems and compact high performance hybrid powertrains. The opportunity to help shape TechTonic, a newly formed network tackling the lack of support for entrepreneurial and aspirational women in the technology sector in Oxfordshire. At an informal lunchtime chat, TechTonic’s founders will gather delegates’ feedback and opinions to deliver support where most needed. Over £1 billion raised by Oxford investors to back start-up businesses and new spin-outs based in Oxford’s science parks, research centres and universities and the opportunity to hear from these successful businesses. An opportunity to pitch to the Venturefest Oxford audience for a cash prize and in-kind business support in the Pitching for Success To highlight the exciting programme, a bespoke networking system which allows attendees to pre-book meetings with other delegates, exhibitors, experts and speakers. The system, developed by Event Connections, also allows visitors to browse the various free sessions on and build a preferred itinerary for the day. To provide convenient means of sustainable transport to and from the King’s Centre in Osney Mead, Venturefest Oxford has partnered with the Oxford Bus Company and Brompton Bike Hire. A free shuttle bus will operate from Seacourt Park & Ride and Oxford Train Station to the venue and back throughout the day. Those who are feeling more active are invited to make use of the Brompton Bike Hire facility located at the Oxford train station. For full details of the Venturefest Oxford 2016 and other opportunities throughout the year, visit www.venturefestoxford.com.   -Ends- MEDIA CONTACTS   For further information, images, or to arrange interviews contact: Susannah Penn or Jane Bevan at Firebird PR on 01235 835297 / 07977 459547 or via email to [email protected] or [email protected]   AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW   Lynn Shepherd, Executive Director, Venturefest Oxford   NOTES TO EDITORS Venturefest is a gateway for entrepreneurs and innovators to connect with investors and advisors at all stages of the business life cycle. Venturefest Oxford’s mission is to provide a platform to support the innovation eco system in Oxfordshire, offering new and growing businesses, investors and innovators connections to support, services and opportunities Venturefest Oxford is now in its 18th year. Venturefest Oxford has gone from strength to strength, with Yorkshire and Bristol using the model to establish sister events. Venturefest and Innovate UK, formerly the Technology Strategy Board are now rolling out annual events across the entire UK as part of a national Venturefest Network, supported by KTN – The Knowledge Transfer Network. The Board of Venturefest Oxford includes key local organisations such as the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, The University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford Innovation and The Oxford Trust as well as key local Angel and VC organisations and tech-based business representatives. READ MORE

The Oxford Times: Entrepreneurs gather after Brexit at Venturefest

The Oxford Times: Entrepreneurs gather after Brexit at Venturefest

MORE than 1,000 business delegates got the chance to network and promote new ideas in the wake of Brexit at a conference in Oxford. This year's Venturefest, the 18th, was the biggest yet, and was held for the first time at the King's Centre in Osney Mead after switching from the Said Business School. Lord Willetts, former minister for universities and science, chaired a panel on the implications of Britain leaving the European Union. Venturefest executive chairwoman Lynn Shepherd said: Businesses have to be innovative and turn Brexit into an opportunity. Oxfordshire itself voted overwhelmingly to Remain, so the result of the referendum has come as a shock to the business community. Venturefest is a good opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs to meet and talk and try to find new opportunities because they are resilient and flexible.  Businesses need to be pro-active and keep the conversations going with each other. Among those with eye-catching displays were Cognitive Robotics researchers from Oxford Brookes University's computing and communication technologies department. Research student Brenda Romino, 23, showed off Robbie the robot and said: We are trying to make Robbie smarter so that one day he could be used for tasks around the home like loading the dishwasher. Mrs Shepherd said the King's Centre worked well as a venue for Venturefest and hoped it would return there next year. As part of this year's event 13 businesses, including Bicester-based electric motorcycle developer Meteor Power, competed for the attention of potential investors after taking part in Pitchfest. Director Mark Edwards said: Venturefest is a brilliant opportunity for us to try to attract investment. Medical imaging firm Adaptix, from Begbroke, won the Oxford Trust 2016 Enterprise Award for innovation, which recognises achievement across life sciences. The Oxford Trust was founded in 1985 by entrepreneurs Sir Martin and Audrey, Lady Wood. Adaptix chief executive officer Mark Evans said: We are delighted to be recognised by the Woods who transformed medical imaging and contributed so much to science and understanding across Oxfordshire. Venturefest is leading on bringing people together in the business community and there is much more cohesion and co-operation as a result. TechTonic, a new network is being launched for entrepreneurial and aspirational women in the technology sector. The network was the idea of Nicola McConville, a corporate lawyer specialising in the technology sector and a partner at Penningtons Manches. She said: We got lots of feedback so we can launch TechTonic properly in October. Independent cyber security expert Oscar O'Connor, who is based at Oxford Science Park, advised businesses on what precautions to take. He said: Losing data through security breaches can potentially put you out of business. Increasingly the breaches are malicious and have a financial impact and an impact on a firm's reputation. Source: The Oxford Times READ MORE

The Oxford Mail: Business delegates and entrepreneurs arrive at Venturefest in Oxford

The Oxford Mail: Business delegates and entrepreneurs arrive at Venturefest in Oxford

The Oxford Mail recently published the following article about Venturefest 2016: More than 1,000 business delegates have been arriving at Venturefest this morning, a showcase for innovation and hi-tech entrepreneurship. This year's event, the 18th, is the biggest yet, and it is being held for the first time at the King's Centre in Osney Mead, West Oxford, after switching from the Said Business School. Lord Willetts, former minister for universities and science, will chair a panel this afternoon on the implications of Brexit. Venturefest executive chairwoman Lynn Shepherd said: Businesses have to be innovative and turn Brexit into an opportunity. Oxfordshire itself voted overwhelmingly to remain so the result of the referendum has come as a shock to the business community.  Venturefest is a good opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs to meet and talk and try to find new opportunities because they are resilient and flexible. Businesses need to be pro-active and keep the conversations going with each other. Pictured above: Venturefest Oxford, Executive Chair, Lynn Shepherd Mrs Shepherd said the King's Centre was working well as a Venturefest venue and she hoped it would return there next year, if the feedback from delegates was positive. As part of this year's showcase 13 businesses, including electric motorcycle developer Meteor Power, are competing for the attention of potential investors after taking part in Pitchfest. Director Mark Edwards said: Venturefest is a brilliant opportunity for us to try to attract investment. TechTonic, a new network is being launched for entrepreneurial and aspirational women in the technology sector. The network was the brainchild of Nicola McConville, a corporate lawyer specialising in the technology sector and a partner at Penningtons Manches. She said: This is a soft launch today and we will get lots of feedback and then launch TechTonic properly in October. For the full Venturefest programme or to book tickets visit venturefestoxford.com Source: Oxford Mail READ MORE

Oxford Mail: Innovation could win investment at Venturefest at King’s Centre in Oxford

Oxford Mail: Innovation could win investment at Venturefest at King’s Centre in Oxford

Recent article published in the Oxford Mail on 29 June 2016: SHOWCASE for innovation and hi-tech entrepreneurs will today stage its biggest event yet as it turns 18. This year's Venturefest Oxford will see 13 businesses, including electric motorcycle developer Meteor Power, compete for the attention of potential investors. The firms will be on show at the King's Centre in Osney Mead, West Oxford. More than 800 delegates attended Venturefest Oxford last year, with millions of pounds of potential business generated from the event. Companies taking part also include start-ups which previously took part in Pitchfest – Venturefest Oxford’s twice yearly Dragons' Den-style event at which entrepreneurs pitch for funding from local investors. Executive chairwoman at Venturefest Oxford Lynn Shepherd said: We are hoping for a record turnout this year - it would be terrific if 1,000 people came along. We were at the Said Business School for several years but switching to this larger venue means there will be more networking areas and the exhibition and innovation showcase will double in size. Over two dozen workshops will offer visitors valuable advice. The Kings Centre is a hidden gem - it's Oxford's largest conference space and as a former home of Oxford Instruments it's a fitting venue to celebrate the county's spirit of innovation. This year’s programme is set to be the best ever, with a great line-up of dynamic speakers and a range of sessions designed to stimulate innovation, support entrepreneurship, and broker investment. Mrs Shepherd said the closing session would debate what happens now to business, innovation and research following the country's decision to leave the EU. Lord Willetts, former minister for universities and science, will head a panel discussing the implication of Brexit. TechTonic, a new network will also be launched for entrepreneurial and aspirational women in the technology sector in Oxfordshire. The network was the idea brainchild of Nicola McConville, a corporate lawyer specialising in the technology sector and a Partner at Penningtons Manches in the Thames Valley. She said: The idea was prompted by a Woman’s Hour programme on Radio 4 that I heard about a ‘women in tech’ network in Cambridge and it begged the question as to why nothing similar exists in Oxfordshire? Furthermore, fewer than five per cent of my portfolio of technology clients are female, so it set me thinking about how we could help existing or would-be women entrepreneurs to reach their full potential. Other guest speakers at Venturefest will include Lisa Thomas, global head of brand and managing director at Virgin Enterprises; Bianca Miller, runner-up of The Apprentice 2014; Mark Stevenson, entrepreneur, broadcaster, expert on global trends and innovation, and Will Kintish, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Networkers. A representative from Brussels is also expected to attend to participate in the debate. For full details of the Venturefest Oxford 2016 programme or to book tickets visit venturefestoxford.com.  Source: Oxford Mail READ MORE

Oxford Mail highlights Cyber Security session at Venturefest

Oxford Mail highlights Cyber Security session at Venturefest

The Movers and Shakers section of the Oxford Mail on 23 June signposted readers to the Venturefest event next week on 29 June. Highlighting a practical session on cyber safety, organised by The Oxford Trust. One-quarter of UK SMEs think cyber security is too expensive to implement and 22% admit they do not know where to start, according to research by the government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign. This session, lead by Oscar O’Connor, Lead Assessor for the Cyber Security Challenge UK, covers why organisations of all sizes and particularly those involved in innovation should place cyber security at the top of their agenda. It will outline the key global risks to your business including the very real internal threats. Register here. Please note: All sessions are free to attend – places are limited and available on a first come, first served basis on the day. As part of the registration process, you can select which sessions you would like to attend. This is not a booking, but allows you to build your preferred itinerary. READ MORE

Connecting rural British business with ultra-fast broadband

Connecting rural British business with ultra-fast broadband

There’s no doubt that online technology is the future in modern homes and businesses, but what happens when the network just isn’t strong enough? This is the dilemma that those living and working in more remote rural locations are facing. City dwellers often have a choice of different networks, giving a good chance of a high quality broadband service. They’re also likely to have decent mobile broadband as an alternative.  In fact, the UK is high on the global scale for the best broadband in urban areas.  Sadly, this isn’t the case in rural regions. The government has recently spent £1.2 billion to extend to 95% of properties in the UK access to 24 Mbps per second broadband speed by the end of 2017. The majority of funding has been spent upgrading internet speeds for residents living in the more highly populated rural areas. While these speeds have been boosted from 20 Mbps to 24 Mbps or above, in line with the government’s objectives, many rural properties with a terrible 2 Mbps connection will not have experienced a change. These remaining 5% from rural areas are the ones getting left behind.  But ironically, it’s the rural areas where demand is highest. Although the Cloud allows employees and businesses to work from just about anywhere, it requires good quality, reliable access to the internet to use the service. In rural regions where broadband is poor, it makes working from home (or from a rural business) with modern cloud applications near impossible. Gigaclear provides ultrafast broadband networks in rural communities that haven’t benefitted from the latest upgrade. The all new pure fibre network, built in parallel to the existing copper network, can achieve speeds up to 40 times faster than the UK average. As a result, properties in the deepest countryside have broadband speed that’s faster than central London, with the ability to Skype Singapore, download large documents and surf the web all at the same time, in record speed and without a glitch. In the last five years Gigaclear has given 26 communities broadband speeds up to 1,000 Mbps.  Gigaclear is empowering rural Britain with ultra-fast broadband and getting people better connected. Venturefest's new, larger networking zone on 29th June will be generously sponsored by Gigaclear. Book a meeting with Gigaclear and find out more about their ultrafast broadband services. READ MORE

Press release: Entrepreneur’s guide to cyber security at Venturefest Oxford

Press release: Entrepreneur’s guide to cyber security at Venturefest Oxford

Start-up businesses find out why and how they should keep their data safe According to research by the government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign, a quarter of UK small and medium businesses think cyber security is too expensive to implement and 22% admit they do not know where to start. Venturefest Oxford aims to tackle this lack of knowledge with two practical sessions at its premier business networking event on Wednesday 29 June at King’s Centre in Osney Mead. Cyber security is one of the key themes of over 20 interactive sessions at Venturefest Oxford next week and two dedicated sessions (am or pm), supported by The Oxford Trust, will be led by Oscar O’Connor, Lead Assessor for the Cyber Security Challenge UK. O’Connor will focus particularly on businesses involved in innovation, explaining the importance of cyber security and suggesting practical steps that can be taken to protect digital data and keep ahead of online threats. In its 18th year, Venturefest Oxford offers a bigger and better programme than ever before to stimulate innovation, support entrepreneurship and broker investment. To highlight the exciting offer, a new website with a refreshed design was launched earlier this year and later joined by a bespoke networking system which allows attendees to pre-book meetings with other delegates, exhibitors, experts and speakers. The system, developed by Event Connections, also allows visitors to browse the free sessions on cyber security, funding, business skills, soft skills, and recruitment and build a preferred itinerary for the day. Lynn Shepherd, Executive Chair at Venturefest Oxford says, Using digital technologies is becoming second nature to us and Venturefest Oxford embraced this by upgrading our website and providing a unique registration and networking system. However, I believe we all need to be aware of the potential risks in the online world and know how to minimise them. We have recently experienced a cyber-attack ourselves, which proved to me that this is something entrepreneurs should not underestimate. We are very pleased to be able to offer sessions focused on cyber security to delegates at this year’s Venturefest as part of our rich programme. Tickets to Venturefest Oxford cost £30 if booked before 28 June and then £40 at the door on 29 June. The price includes entrance to all sessions (including the Breakfast session), exhibition and networking areas, refreshments throughout the day (including lunch), and evening drinks reception. Student entry is free of charge – valid ID will be required. For full details of the Venturefest Oxford 2016 programme or to book tickets visit www.venturefestoxford.com. -Ends-   MEDIA CONTACTS For further information, images, or to arrange interviews contact: Susannah Penn or Jane Bevan at Firebird PR on 01235 835297 / 07977 459547 or via email to [email protected] or [email protected] NOTES TO EDITORS Venturefest is a gateway for entrepreneurs and innovators to connect with investors and advisors at all stages of the business life cycle. Venturefest Oxford’s mission is to provide a platform to support the innovation eco system in Oxfordshire, offering new and growing businesses, investors and innovators connections to support, services and opportunities Venturefest Oxford is now in its 18th year. Venturefest Oxford has gone from strength to strength, with Yorkshire and Bristol using the model to establish sister events. Venturefest and Innovate UK, formerly the Technology Strategy Board are now rolling out annual events across the entire UK as part of a national Venturefest Network, supported by KTN – The Knowledge Transfer Network. The Board of Venturefest Oxford includes key local organisations such as the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, The University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford Innovation and The Oxford Trust as well as key local Angel and VC organisations and tech-based business representatives. READ MORE

Live-streaming: Be aware of the pitfalls

Live-streaming: Be aware of the pitfalls

Live-streaming an event can more than double the number of people you reach, as well as add many, many more when viewers share their comments and photos across social media. Adding interactivity is a great way for those who can’t make it along to give their feedback, join the conversation or add to the debate. But live-stream pitfalls can occur from the platform you are ‘broadcasting’ on, the type of material your event contains and the countries your viewers are located in. Your live-stream platform We get asked a lot why we broadcast over our own dedicated platform rather than a standard service such as YouTube. A major plus point is how easy it is to embed the video stream seamlessly into your website with your own branding. Using our own platform ensures we deliver a stable connection with the highest possible quality of video and audio. You also get a secure server, under our control that is built just for your event. Copyright material Even if you’re planning a simple live-stream setup, you have to be aware of the rules around broadcasting on third party platforms such as YouTube. For example there will be consequences if any material under copyright features in your event, such as recorded music or extracts from films and TV programmes. As a minimum, YouTube will run ads over your live-stream to recoup costs to the copyright holder. If YouTube considers you to be in severe breach, it can close your account immediately, which not only wrecks your live-stream but draws you into a lengthy appeal process to restore your account. Geographical location of viewers If any of your viewers are in Germany for example, data protection laws prohibit access to live-streams on YouTube altogether (although note that this doesn’t affect YouTube recorded content in Germany). Either way, we think you’ll agree that neither of these outcomes really works in a live-streaming situation. We now shoot live events with 4K broadcast standard cameras which really lift the live-streaming experience for audiences. When we streamed Skoll World Forum this year we were thrilled to have had so many compliments about the quality of the experience. So if you’re planning an event, talk to us about how live-streaming can help you reach out. Book your meeting with Oxford Digital Media - they are exhibiting at Venturefest on 29 June.  READ MORE

Programme highlight – Fundraising: Turning the Cash you Raise into Business Value

Programme highlight – Fundraising: Turning the Cash you Raise into Business Value

Fundraising is a beginning, not an end and it is what you do with it that counts. A panel of experts with high profile success stories to tell and experience in the key disciplines of value creation will discuss what it takes to go from funded to successful at Venturefest on 29 June. They will share their insights into how value is created by capital at all phases of a business’s life. By having a clear understanding of what comes next, participants will be better positioned to plan, target and execute their own fundraising. The panelists in this session will include: Rahul Powar, Founder & CEO of Redsift and part of the founding team and principal technical architect for Shazam Entertainment, the musical recognition app. William Reeve, serial entrepreneur and internet investor, previously served as non-exec Chairman or Director of several high-growth businesses including Graze.com, Paddy Power PLC and Zoopla.co.uk. James Hall, Associate Fellow at Saïd Business School, he previously served as the Executive Director of the School’s Entrepreneurship Centre and led the development of the Launch Pad community. The session will be moderated by Tom Bradley, Oxford Capital. Find out more or view the full programme one our website. All sessions are free to attend – places are limited and available on a first come, first served basis on the day.  As part of the registration process, you can select which sessions you would like to attend. This is not a booking, but allows you to build your preferred itinerary. READ MORE

Get Connected – Expert advice at Venturefest Oxford

Get Connected – Expert advice at Venturefest Oxford

Venturefest Oxford offers you the opportunity to acquire free, personalised and objective advice from local industry experts on 29 June. With business advice on everything from starting up a new company to the day-to-day management and exit strategies our experts are available to talk you through the topics that matter to you. Find out more. Connecting is as easy as 1, 2, 3 - Go to the Get Connected page and login (you must be registered to use Get Connected) - On the 'Summary' page click on the  "Go to Venturefest Connect' button - From this page, 'My Meetings', you can browse for people to meet with, add any time exclusions, edit your session preferences, and edit/view any current meetings. READ MORE

Have you seen our new exhibitor blogs?

Have you seen our new exhibitor blogs?

Our exhibitors have a vast wealth of knowledge and skills. Read the latest exhibitor articles on our latest news page, including: Reinvesting income from office space into innovation The Oxford Trust; Knowledge Transfer Partnerships benefits and The Vu+Q new visual tool Oxford Brookes University; Charging with Price Per Point and How to find out if your idea is a good one White October; Prevent cyber-crime the pitfalls of livestreaming Focus Oxford LLP; Tax incentives Hazlewoods; Patents and Freedom-to Operate Dehns; Intellectual property strategy J A Kemp Also, have a look at the blog by Gigaclear about how they are empowering rural businesses in the UK with lightening fast broadband. They are also generously sponsoring Venturefest’s new, larger networking zone on 29th June. READ MORE

Innovative partnerships at Oxford Brookes University

Innovative partnerships at Oxford Brookes University

Oxford Brookes University is one of our sponsors at this year's Venturefest. Their recent article highlights their involvement in the event and ongoing contributions to Oxford's innovation ecosystem: Business Managers from Oxford Brookes will be on hand in the Networking Zone (Cotswold Hall, Stand 7) to speak to attendees about how they can access expert advice Some of the innovative products that have arisen from their Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) will be featured at the event; including Aircharge, the wireless charging devices and VuQ, a new visual tool for mapping the built environment Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University and Board Member for Venturefest Oxford said: Venturefest Oxford has gone from strength to strength since it first began almost 20 years ago, and has proved to be a fantastic gateway for connecting entrepreneurs and innovators with investors and advisors at all stages of the business lifecycle. Venturefest’s Executive Director Lynn Shepherd said: Innovation is a powerful catalyst in driving economic growth and Venturefest Oxford plays a crucial role in shaping the future of high-tech in the county. This year’s programme is set to be the best ever, with a great line-up of dynamic speakers and a range of sessions designed to stimulate innovation, support entrepreneurship and broker investment. Book a meeting with Oxford Brookes University business manager at Venturefest on 29 June. Read the full article     READ MORE

Connecting rural British business with ultra-fast broadband

Connecting rural British business with ultra-fast broadband

There’s no doubt that online technology is the future in modern homes and businesses, but what happens when the network just isn’t strong enough? This is the dilemma that those living and working in more remote rural locations are facing. City dwellers often have a choice of different networks, giving a good chance of a high quality broadband service. They’re also likely to have decent mobile broadband as an alternative.  In fact, the UK is high on the global scale for the best broadband in urban areas.  Sadly, this isn’t the case in rural regions. The government has recently spent £1.2 billion to extend to 95% of properties in the UK access to 24 Mbps per second broadband speed by the end of 2017. The majority of funding has been spent upgrading internet speeds for residents living in the more highly populated rural areas. While these speeds have been boosted from 20 Mbps to 24 Mbps or above, in line with the government’s objectives, many rural properties with a terrible 2 Mbps connection will not have experienced a change. These remaining 5% from rural areas are the ones getting left behind.  But ironically, it’s the rural areas where demand is highest. Although the Cloud allows employees and businesses to work from just about anywhere, it requires good quality, reliable access to the internet to use the service. In rural regions where broadband is poor, it makes working from home (or from a rural business) with modern cloud applications near impossible. Gigaclear provides ultrafast broadband networks in rural communities that haven’t benefitted from the latest upgrade. The all new pure fibre network, built in parallel to the existing copper network, can achieve speeds up to 40 times faster than the UK average. As a result, properties in the deepest countryside have broadband speed that’s faster than central London, with the ability to Skype Singapore, download large documents and surf the web all at the same time, in record speed and without a glitch. In the last five years Gigaclear has given 26 communities broadband speeds up to 1,000 Mbps.  Gigaclear is empowering rural Britain with ultra-fast broadband and getting people better connected. Venturefest's new, larger networking zone on 29th June will be generously sponsored by Gigaclear. Book a meeting with Gigaclear and find out more about their ultrafast broadband services. READ MORE

Live-streaming: Be aware of the pitfalls

Live-streaming: Be aware of the pitfalls

Live-streaming an event can more than double the number of people you reach, as well as add many, many more when viewers share their comments and photos across social media. Adding interactivity is a great way for those who can’t make it along to give their feedback, join the conversation or add to the debate. But live-stream pitfalls can occur from the platform you are ‘broadcasting’ on, the type of material your event contains and the countries your viewers are located in. Your live-stream platform We get asked a lot why we broadcast over our own dedicated platform rather than a standard service such as YouTube. A major plus point is how easy it is to embed the video stream seamlessly into your website with your own branding. Using our own platform ensures we deliver a stable connection with the highest possible quality of video and audio. You also get a secure server, under our control that is built just for your event. Copyright material Even if you’re planning a simple live-stream setup, you have to be aware of the rules around broadcasting on third party platforms such as YouTube. For example there will be consequences if any material under copyright features in your event, such as recorded music or extracts from films and TV programmes. As a minimum, YouTube will run ads over your live-stream to recoup costs to the copyright holder. If YouTube considers you to be in severe breach, it can close your account immediately, which not only wrecks your live-stream but draws you into a lengthy appeal process to restore your account. Geographical location of viewers If any of your viewers are in Germany for example, data protection laws prohibit access to live-streams on YouTube altogether (although note that this doesn’t affect YouTube recorded content in Germany). Either way, we think you’ll agree that neither of these outcomes really works in a live-streaming situation. We now shoot live events with 4K broadcast standard cameras which really lift the live-streaming experience for audiences. When we streamed Skoll World Forum this year we were thrilled to have had so many compliments about the quality of the experience. So if you’re planning an event, talk to us about how live-streaming can help you reach out. Book your meeting with Oxford Digital Media - they are exhibiting at Venturefest on 29 June.  READ MORE

Press release: Celebrating 18 years of promoting innovation with an inspiring Innovation Showcase

Press release: Celebrating 18 years of promoting innovation with an inspiring Innovation Showcase

From hard technology to online tools, this is Oxfordshire’s entrepreneurship at its best The most innovative and exciting budding businesses come together at Venturefest Oxford’s Innovation Showcase to connect with potential funders and attract new partners. Thirteen young companies will be presenting their innovative ideas at this premier business networking event on Wednesday 29 June at King’s Centre in Osney Mead. Venturefest Oxford partners with Innovate UK and other organisations in delivering a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to meet with like-minded people who want to be part of business success. The programme is bigger and better this year as Venturefest Oxford marks 18 years since its foundation. The Innovation Showcase has doubled in size, with many of the thirteen exhibitors selected from start-ups who previously took part in Pitchfest – Venturefest Oxford’s twice yearly Dragon’s Den at which entrepreneurs pitch for core funding from local investors. TrustonTap is one of the former Pitchfest participants presenting at Innovation Showcase in June. The ambitious Oxfordshire-based business focuses on the ways technology can help transform the way we look after the elderly. The founders, William Cotton and Nick Grant have developed an online platform targeted at older consumers and their families, that helps them find the support and care necessary to allow the elderly to live independently at home for as long as possible. With a vision to help anyone interested in making a difference in the lives of the old people in their communities, one of the key aims of TrustonTap is to attract a new group of workers into a market which currently suffers from a chronic shortage of carers. William Cotton, co-founder of TrustonTap explains, We know there are many people around us, be it young adults or mums who are happy to spend a few hours a week helping an elderly person with simple errands, giving them a lift to the shops, or sitting with them when they go to the doctor. Our aim is to connect those who need the help with qualified carers, as well as those of us who simply want to be of assistance. At Venturefest Oxford we are hoping to meet investors who share our vision and want to partner with us on this journey. Another former Pitchfest finalist also showcasing at Venturefest Oxford offers yet another take on innovation. Classlist provides a virtual school-gate for school parent communities and shows a great business potential, having reached 70 schools since launch in September. Classlist has now succeeded in raising £600,000 initial crowd-funding and won a place as one of only 15 start ups selected for the prestigious Start-up Grind Europe, headlined by Google Chair, Eric Schmidt. Other exhibitors include Meteor Power, a firm developing high-performance electric motorcycles, electric motors with integrated rapid charging systems and compact high performance hybrid powertrains, which has already made an appearance at Pitchfest. The young company has recently received a significant £2.2million grant from Innovate UK towards the development of their project. Innovate UK Chief Executive Ruth McKernan says: Venturefest Oxford will be a showcase for the very best innovation in the region. The event will bring together innovators, investors and entrepreneurs, with a wide range of business support and advice organisations. Innovate UK is determined to build on innovation excellence throughout the UK. We look forward to Venturefest Oxford – if you are an innovative company looking to make the right connections to grow your business, then I’d urge you to register. Lynn Shepherd, Executive Chair at Venturefest Oxford says: The Innovation Showcase is a very exciting and inspiring part of Venturefest and we are all looking forward to seeing what the great pioneering minds of Oxfordshire have on offer. Even though I have already met many of this year’s participants, it will be great to see how much the businesses have grown and developed since they first took part at Pitchfest. TrustonTap, Classlist and Meteor Power have also been entered for The Oxford Trust Enterprise Awards 2016, which will be presented at a gala dinner on Tuesday June 28th, the night before Venturefest Oxford 2016, and will help launch the annual event by showcasing the region’s new business innovation stars. For full details of the Venturefest Oxford 2016 programme or to book tickets visit www.venturefestoxford.com. -Ends-   MEDIA CONTACTS For further information, images, or to arrange interviews contact: Susannah Penn or Jane Bevan at Firebird PR on 01235 835297 / 07977 459547 or via email to [email protected] or [email protected]   NOTES TO EDITORS Venturefest is a gateway for entrepreneurs and innovators to connect with investors and advisors at all stages of the business life cycle. Venturefest Oxford’s mission is to provide a platform to support the innovation eco system in Oxfordshire, offering new and growing businesses, investors and innovators connections to support, services and opportunities Venturefest Oxford is now in its 18th year. Venturefest Oxford has gone from strength to strength, with Yorkshire and Bristol using the model to establish sister events. Venturefest and Innovate UK, formerly the Technology Strategy Board are now rolling out annual events across the entire UK as part of a national Venturefest Network, supported by KTN – The Knowledge Transfer Network. The Board of Venturefest Oxford includes key local organisations such as the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, The University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford Innovation and The Oxford Trust as well as key local Angel and VC organisations and tech-based business representatives. For more information on the Innovation Showcase exhibitors, please visit: http://www.venturefestoxford.com/venturefest-2016/innovation-showcase/ READ MORE

Oxford Mail: Electric motorbikes among Venturefest exhibitors

Oxford Mail: Electric motorbikes among Venturefest exhibitors

An 18th June 2016 Oxford Mail article looked at one of our upcoming exciting high-tech startup who will be exhibiting at this year's Innovation Showcase at the King's Centre is Osney Mead Oxford on 29 June. This year's Venturefest Oxford will see 13 businesses, including a company developing high-performance electric motorcycles, vie for the attention of potential investors. One of the exhibitors will be Meteor Power, a firm developing high-performance electric motorcycles and motors. Meteor Power was a finalist at our bi-annual Pitchfest event where entrepreneurs pitch for funding to a renowned group of investors. They are also on this year's Oxford Trust Enterprise Awards shortlist. Mike Edwards of Meteor Power at last year's Pitchfest, pictured by The Oxford Mail Read more     READ MORE

Only one week to go!

Only one week to go!

Register now, avoid the queues and Get Connected Register for Venturefest and get access to our networking system, Get Connected. Plan and book your networking meetings with attendees, exhibitors, experts and speakers at Venturefest, in advance of the day. Make the most of your day, register now, build your profile and Get Connected. Register Now! Tickets are £30 until 28th June and £40 on the day. Tickets include entry to all sessions, complimentary refreshments, lunch and drinks reception, use of the ‘Get Connected’ networking system and free transport to and from the King’s Centre. Got a Question? What time is the breakfast session? Where can I get the free shuttle bus from? What is the venue address? Is there free wifi? Do I need to bring any cash? We've put together a list of FAQs and Useful Information to help you prepare for next week's event, however if you have any additional questions, please email us. READ MORE

At the cutting edge: Intellectual property strategy for entrepreneurs

At the cutting edge: Intellectual property strategy for entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs have always been at the forefront of innovation but protecting it is critical to the success of any business. Whether involved in small or start-up businesses or working within large institutions such as universities, novel ideas and breakthroughs are constantly being generated. While that is always welcome, it is a fact that the more innovation created, the more there is a need to protect such intellectual property from competitors and allow it to be developed safely to its full potential in the market place. Entrepreneurs inevitably face pressures such as money, time and the pressing need to keep ahead of the game but protection of their assets through the use of patents, trade marks, designs and copyright is critical to their business. Patents Patents can cover a wide range of products and methods that are new, inventive and sufficiently described.  They each create a “negative right” that prevents others from using the invention without consent. A key patent, or a comprehensive patent portfolio can have significant value and attract investors. As well as blocking competitors, patents can demonstrate that the start-up is of a certain quality, helping offset liabilities often associated with new businesses.  A patent usually lasts for up to 20 years, during which time you can maximise profit from the invention before it is overtaken by new technology. Trade marks Trade marks can cover words, numbers, letters, logos, sometimes colours and slogans. With a few exceptions, anything can be registered as a trade mark so long as it can be represented graphically and is capable of identifying one trader’s goods or services from those of another. Signs that fall foul of these requirements are ones that cannot perform this function for one reason or another, usually because they lack any distinctive or identifying feature which enables the public to recognise the sign as a trade mark, and/or they describe a characteristic of the goods or services or the sign is the generic name for, or the shape of, the goods. By registering a trade mark, you can prevent others from using your mark and benefiting from the goodwill attached to it. A registered trade mark provides a monopoly right and can last indefinitely. Design Registering a design is becoming increasingly important, particularly in the area of hi-tech consumer goods. A registered design covers the visual impression made by a product and is valid when the design is new and has individual character. A registered design is much cheaper than a patent, and it is possible to cover the whole of the European Union (EU) with a single registered design. However it only protects the appearance of your product, not the way it works. A registered design can last for up to 25 years. Protection of intellectual property should not just be confined to big business and can be critical to the success of inventions and their commercial potential. JA Kemp is an Exhibitor at Venturefest on 29 June. There will be three top experts available to give you Intellectual Property advice so don't miss out, book your appointment now. Experts from JA Kemp who will be available to meet you include: Colin Merryweather (Partner – Patent Attorney); Amanda Simons (Partner – Patent Attorney) and Ben Mooneapillay (Partner – Trade Mark Attorney). READ MORE

Exciting new visual tool quickly maps towns and countries: The Vu+Q

Exciting new visual tool quickly maps towns and countries: The Vu+Q

A consistent visual measurement tool Using techniques developed from over 20 years of research and practice experience, Vu+Q provides an objective and standardised measurement of visual complexity, variety and intensity in the built and natural environment. Drawing on complexity to create a simple view Advanced mathematical techniques are used to collapse the visual effect of building size, mass, scale, plot width, enclosure, street width, landscape elements, amounts of open space, building materials, windows, doors, rooflines, street furniture and vegetation into a single objective, mappable index of view complexity, variety and intensity (the 'Cvi index'). A proven indicator of visual quality The complexity, variety and intensity index (Cvi index) has a proven link with perceptions of visual diversity, attractiveness, beauty, order, coherence, preference, and interest and we can establish people's visual quality preferences allowing us to calibrate the Cvi index for specific locations and specific groups. Services and consulting The tool provides three key services: Survey: The Vu+Q Survey function calculates the CVi index for a location and produces an objective and consistent assessment and mapping of the visual complexity, variety and intensity of a place. All projects start from a Vu+Q Survey. Assessment: Vu+Q assessment helps evaluate the visual appropriateness of proposed interventions, allows users to set targets and provides an objective assessment of proposed change. Validation: Vu+Q Validation establish visual quantity preferences of user, community and purchaser groups.  Preferences are calibrated with CVi data to automate the mapping of visual quality. Dr Jon Cooper is the Director of Vu+Q Consulting and provides a combination of applied research and professional consultancy experience to ensure that Vu+Q is unique, useable and useful in preserving and improving the visual quality of town and country. Dr Jon Cooper, Director of Vu+Q Consulting In addition to being a researcher Jon is an urban designer, landscape architect, design communicator, educator, and practitioner with over 30 years’ experience of working with both the public and private sectors. He was a founding Director of Urban Design and Mediation where he worked for a large range of clients such as Land securities, Places for People, Hallam Land, Pelham Homes, Milton Keynes Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council and worked with a range of consultants such as Grimshaws, David Lock Associates and Arup. For five years he was the Director of the internationally renowned Joint Centre for Urban Design at Oxford Brookes University and Field Chair of Environmental Design and Conservation in the Department of Planning at Oxford Brookes University. Prior to this he was Principal Landscape Architect and Urban Designer with Birmingham City Council’s Design Services. Jon continues to teach at Oxford Brookes University on a part-time basis. To find out more about Vu+Q, talk to Andrew Baxter (Business Manager) at the Oxford Brookes University Stand 7 at Venturefest on 29 June. Or contact [email protected] or +44 (0)7477 969217.                      READ MORE

How to know whether your idea is a good one

How to know whether your idea is a good one

How can entrepreneurs build a successful product? A useful starting point is to draw on Steve Blank’s Customer Development Model that focuses on three key areas: Conviction: The entrepreneur’s Achilles’ heel Customer Discovery: How to recognise and test your assumptions Customer validation: Does my customer’s problem actually exist? Conviction: The entrepreneur’s Achilles’ heel It’s a cruel paradox. One of the qualities you need to be a successful entrepreneur is the very thing that can trip you up early on: conviction. You must be ready to truly challenge your conclusions. Searching should lead us to ask: Who are my customers? Do they really need my product? How am I going to reach them? Does my product solve their problem? Finally, will they buy it? When it’s done properly the product development process will likely lead you to a totally different end product. Avoid the very common mistake of just going ahead and building it. Customer Discovery: How to recognise and test your assumptions Blank suggests you write a one- or two-page hypothesis for each part of the Business Model Canvas. In truth, it will save you time and hard-earned cash. Example: Finding assumptions for the Foyles app We recently helped Foyles extend the book shopping experience onto their customers’ smart phone. Their value proposition was “search this store on your mobile”. This proposition had to be tested before Foyles spent time and money building an app. And this meant working out their riskiest assumptions. But how? By putting their value proposition down on paper, we were able to see the need for the product, as well as the solution and the expected results. This is how Foyles was enabled to easily spot their riskiest assumptions. For one day, they posted signs around their West End stores, promoting the in-store search app with wi-fi to enable customers to try. Except (and here’s the thing) there was no product yet. When a customer logged on they were told the app was currently being developed, with a thank you for showing interest of 10% off a book. This enabled Foyle’s to validate their assumptions. Your decision to proceed should be based on evidence you’ve collected. Customer validation: does my customer’s problem actually exist? Your product will be used by people. So it makes sense to get a deeper understanding of your customer. Certainly, understanding your typical customer and the issues they have goes hand-in-hand with collecting the quantitative data in the Foyles example above. And having both forms of validation allows you to go back and strengthen your Business Model Canvas. Once you’ve completed your customer conversations, you’ll be ready to adapt your Business Model Canvas. From here, your decision to proceed with a product should be deliberate. Establishing whether a customer problem actually exists will help you make your decision and it is what will enable you to move on to building your Minimal Viable Product – or the simplest version of your product that will get people excited. White October will be an Exhibitor at this year’s Venturefest on 29 June. Dave Fletcher will be speaking at the session on Digital Product Development at 9.30am and a session on Procuring an agency at 16.15. Get connected now.   READ MORE

At the cutting edge: Intellectual property strategy for entrepreneurs

At the cutting edge: Intellectual property strategy for entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs have always been at the forefront of innovation but protecting it is critical to the success of any business. Whether involved in small or start-up businesses or working within large institutions such as universities, novel ideas and breakthroughs are constantly being generated. While that is always welcome, it is a fact that the more innovation created, the more there is a need to protect such intellectual property from competitors and allow it to be developed safely to its full potential in the market place. Entrepreneurs inevitably face pressures such as money, time and the pressing need to keep ahead of the game but protection of their assets through the use of patents, trade marks, designs and copyright is critical to their business. Patents Patents can cover a wide range of products and methods that are new, inventive and sufficiently described.  They each create a “negative right” that prevents others from using the invention without consent. A key patent, or a comprehensive patent portfolio can have significant value and attract investors. As well as blocking competitors, patents can demonstrate that the start-up is of a certain quality, helping offset liabilities often associated with new businesses.  A patent usually lasts for up to 20 years, during which time you can maximise profit from the invention before it is overtaken by new technology. Trade marks Trade marks can cover words, numbers, letters, logos, sometimes colours and slogans. With a few exceptions, anything can be registered as a trade mark so long as it can be represented graphically and is capable of identifying one trader’s goods or services from those of another. Signs that fall foul of these requirements are ones that cannot perform this function for one reason or another, usually because they lack any distinctive or identifying feature which enables the public to recognise the sign as a trade mark, and/or they describe a characteristic of the goods or services or the sign is the generic name for, or the shape of, the goods. By registering a trade mark, you can prevent others from using your mark and benefiting from the goodwill attached to it. A registered trade mark provides a monopoly right and can last indefinitely. Design Registering a design is becoming increasingly important, particularly in the area of hi-tech consumer goods. A registered design covers the visual impression made by a product and is valid when the design is new and has individual character. A registered design is much cheaper than a patent, and it is possible to cover the whole of the European Union (EU) with a single registered design. However it only protects the appearance of your product, not the way it works. A registered design can last for up to 25 years. Protection of intellectual property should not just be confined to big business and can be critical to the success of inventions and their commercial potential. JA Kemp is an Exhibitor at Venturefest on 29 June. There will be three top experts available to give you Intellectual Property advice so don't miss out, book your appointment now. Experts from JA Kemp who will be available to meet you include: Colin Merryweather (Partner – Patent Attorney); Amanda Simons (Partner – Patent Attorney) and Ben Mooneapillay (Partner – Trade Mark Attorney). READ MORE

Exciting new visual tool quickly maps towns and countries: The Vu+Q

Exciting new visual tool quickly maps towns and countries: The Vu+Q

A consistent visual measurement tool Using techniques developed from over 20 years of research and practice experience, Vu+Q provides an objective and standardised measurement of visual complexity, variety and intensity in the built and natural environment. Drawing on complexity to create a simple view Advanced mathematical techniques are used to collapse the visual effect of building size, mass, scale, plot width, enclosure, street width, landscape elements, amounts of open space, building materials, windows, doors, rooflines, street furniture and vegetation into a single objective, mappable index of view complexity, variety and intensity (the 'Cvi index'). A proven indicator of visual quality The complexity, variety and intensity index (Cvi index) has a proven link with perceptions of visual diversity, attractiveness, beauty, order, coherence, preference, and interest and we can establish people's visual quality preferences allowing us to calibrate the Cvi index for specific locations and specific groups. Services and consulting The tool provides three key services: Survey: The Vu+Q Survey function calculates the CVi index for a location and produces an objective and consistent assessment and mapping of the visual complexity, variety and intensity of a place. All projects start from a Vu+Q Survey. Assessment: Vu+Q assessment helps evaluate the visual appropriateness of proposed interventions, allows users to set targets and provides an objective assessment of proposed change. Validation: Vu+Q Validation establish visual quantity preferences of user, community and purchaser groups.  Preferences are calibrated with CVi data to automate the mapping of visual quality. Dr Jon Cooper is the Director of Vu+Q Consulting and provides a combination of applied research and professional consultancy experience to ensure that Vu+Q is unique, useable and useful in preserving and improving the visual quality of town and country. Dr Jon Cooper, Director of Vu+Q Consulting In addition to being a researcher Jon is an urban designer, landscape architect, design communicator, educator, and practitioner with over 30 years’ experience of working with both the public and private sectors. He was a founding Director of Urban Design and Mediation where he worked for a large range of clients such as Land securities, Places for People, Hallam Land, Pelham Homes, Milton Keynes Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council and worked with a range of consultants such as Grimshaws, David Lock Associates and Arup. For five years he was the Director of the internationally renowned Joint Centre for Urban Design at Oxford Brookes University and Field Chair of Environmental Design and Conservation in the Department of Planning at Oxford Brookes University. Prior to this he was Principal Landscape Architect and Urban Designer with Birmingham City Council’s Design Services. Jon continues to teach at Oxford Brookes University on a part-time basis. To find out more about Vu+Q, talk to Andrew Baxter (Business Manager) at the Oxford Brookes University Stand 7 at Venturefest on 29 June. Or contact [email protected] or +44 (0)7477 969217.                      READ MORE

How to know whether your idea is a good one

How to know whether your idea is a good one

How can entrepreneurs build a successful product? A useful starting point is to draw on Steve Blank’s Customer Development Model that focuses on three key areas: Conviction: The entrepreneur’s Achilles’ heel Customer Discovery: How to recognise and test your assumptions Customer validation: Does my customer’s problem actually exist? Conviction: The entrepreneur’s Achilles’ heel It’s a cruel paradox. One of the qualities you need to be a successful entrepreneur is the very thing that can trip you up early on: conviction. You must be ready to truly challenge your conclusions. Searching should lead us to ask: Who are my customers? Do they really need my product? How am I going to reach them? Does my product solve their problem? Finally, will they buy it? When it’s done properly the product development process will likely lead you to a totally different end product. Avoid the very common mistake of just going ahead and building it. Customer Discovery: How to recognise and test your assumptions Blank suggests you write a one- or two-page hypothesis for each part of the Business Model Canvas. In truth, it will save you time and hard-earned cash. Example: Finding assumptions for the Foyles app We recently helped Foyles extend the book shopping experience onto their customers’ smart phone. Their value proposition was “search this store on your mobile”. This proposition had to be tested before Foyles spent time and money building an app. And this meant working out their riskiest assumptions. But how? By putting their value proposition down on paper, we were able to see the need for the product, as well as the solution and the expected results. This is how Foyles was enabled to easily spot their riskiest assumptions. For one day, they posted signs around their West End stores, promoting the in-store search app with wi-fi to enable customers to try. Except (and here’s the thing) there was no product yet. When a customer logged on they were told the app was currently being developed, with a thank you for showing interest of 10% off a book. This enabled Foyle’s to validate their assumptions. Your decision to proceed should be based on evidence you’ve collected. Customer validation: does my customer’s problem actually exist? Your product will be used by people. So it makes sense to get a deeper understanding of your customer. Certainly, understanding your typical customer and the issues they have goes hand-in-hand with collecting the quantitative data in the Foyles example above. And having both forms of validation allows you to go back and strengthen your Business Model Canvas. Once you’ve completed your customer conversations, you’ll be ready to adapt your Business Model Canvas. From here, your decision to proceed with a product should be deliberate. Establishing whether a customer problem actually exists will help you make your decision and it is what will enable you to move on to building your Minimal Viable Product – or the simplest version of your product that will get people excited. White October will be an Exhibitor at this year’s Venturefest on 29 June. Dave Fletcher will be speaking at the session on Digital Product Development at 9.30am and a session on Procuring an agency at 16.15. Get connected now.   READ MORE

How your choice of office space could influence the next generation

How your choice of office space could influence the next generation

The phrase 'to give something back,' when used in the context of business strategy implies the implementation of a corporate social responsibility policy. Here at The Oxford Trust, our charitable business model embodies the ‘give something back’ idea – everything we do is sustainable and benefits not just the regional economy but also future generations and diverse communities across the city and county. The Trust is a highly successful independent charity that was founded in 1985 by entrepreneurs Sir Martin and Audrey, Lady Wood. Our mission is to ‘encourage the pursuit of science and enterprise’ and we run complementary programmes across three key objectives: Enterprise - To support economic growth by encouraging innovation. Education - To inspire young people about science, technology, engineering and maths. Engagement - To encourage people of all ages to engage with how scientific research impacts their lives. We currently support early-stage science and innovation companies and entrepreneurs by providing affordable office space through our Oxford Centre for Innovation (OCFI), which is based in the city centre and close to the university’s science campus. OCFI, in Oxford's vibrant city centre, provides flexible office space, virtual offices and meeting rooms The income we earn from the OCFI is reinvested to support the science and innovation community and encourage entrepreneurship. We do this through investment in our own programmes and those of like-minded organisations. For example, we support Venturefest Oxford, Oxford Hackspace, Oxfordshire Science Festival and fund Science Oxford – our public-facing brand. The Oxford Trust Enterprise Awards, being held in conjunction with Venturefest Oxford, seeks to recognise the efforts of start-up companies and entrepreneurs in the technology and life science sectors. Our independence and sustainability means that we are able to be responsive to evolving needs and challenges in Oxfordshire and the wider region; the Trust helped to fund the Oxford Innovation Engine Report (2013), the recent iCapital innovation bid and NESTA entrepreneurship research project Connecting The Dots, which is being discussed at Venturefest Oxford on 29 June 2016. The Oxford Trust helped fund Oxford's recent iCapital innovation bid - see finalist video submission  We also have successful partnerships that enable us to develop and invest in ground-breaking programmes aiming to inspire the next generation of scientists and innovators - building networks between businesses and schools, particularly through Science Oxford’s STEM World of Work programme and our local STEM Ambassador network. Two exciting new projects coming on line that will expand innovation capacity; underlines the Trust’s commitment to providing independent cost effective innovation space that supports our wider social and economic impact. The POD: A co-working space and business lounge inside OCFI will launch this summer Stansfeld Park: A new multimillion £ innovation centre in Headington slated to open in early 2018. Artist view of Stansfeld Come and talk to the Trust to learn about all our exciting programmes and to see if you can help us help you! The Trust is exhibiting at Venturefest on 29 June. Book an appointment and get expert advice.     READ MORE

How your choice of office space could influence the next generation

How your choice of office space could influence the next generation

The phrase 'to give something back,' when used in the context of business strategy implies the implementation of a corporate social responsibility policy. Here at The Oxford Trust, our charitable business model embodies the ‘give something back’ idea – everything we do is sustainable and benefits not just the regional economy but also future generations and diverse communities across the city and county. The Trust is a highly successful independent charity that was founded in 1985 by entrepreneurs Sir Martin and Audrey, Lady Wood. Our mission is to ‘encourage the pursuit of science and enterprise’ and we run complementary programmes across three key objectives: Enterprise - To support economic growth by encouraging innovation. Education - To inspire young people about science, technology, engineering and maths. Engagement - To encourage people of all ages to engage with how scientific research impacts their lives. We currently support early-stage science and innovation companies and entrepreneurs by providing affordable office space through our Oxford Centre for Innovation (OCFI), which is based in the city centre and close to the university’s science campus. OCFI, in Oxford's vibrant city centre, provides flexible office space, virtual offices and meeting rooms The income we earn from the OCFI is reinvested to support the science and innovation community and encourage entrepreneurship. We do this through investment in our own programmes and those of like-minded organisations. For example, we support Venturefest Oxford, Oxford Hackspace, Oxfordshire Science Festival and fund Science Oxford – our public-facing brand. The Oxford Trust Enterprise Awards, being held in conjunction with Venturefest Oxford, seeks to recognise the efforts of start-up companies and entrepreneurs in the technology and life science sectors. Our independence and sustainability means that we are able to be responsive to evolving needs and challenges in Oxfordshire and the wider region; the Trust helped to fund the Oxford Innovation Engine Report (2013), the recent iCapital innovation bid and NESTA entrepreneurship research project Connecting The Dots, which is being discussed at Venturefest Oxford on 29 June 2016. The Oxford Trust helped fund Oxford's recent iCapital innovation bid - see finalist video submission  We also have successful partnerships that enable us to develop and invest in ground-breaking programmes aiming to inspire the next generation of scientists and innovators - building networks between businesses and schools, particularly through Science Oxford’s STEM World of Work programme and our local STEM Ambassador network. Two exciting new projects coming on line that will expand innovation capacity; underlines the Trust’s commitment to providing independent cost effective innovation space that supports our wider social and economic impact. The POD: A co-working space and business lounge inside OCFI will launch this summer Stansfeld Park: A new multimillion £ innovation centre in Headington slated to open in early 2018. Artist view of Stansfeld Come and talk to the Trust to learn about all our exciting programmes and to see if you can help us help you! The Trust is exhibiting at Venturefest on 29 June. Book an appointment and get expert advice.     READ MORE

inbusiness: Making the most of her retirement

inbusiness: Making the most of her retirement

This week's inbusiness magazine of The Oxford Times featured an article about Venturefest Oxford's Executive Chair Lynn Shepherd. Lynn at the 2015 Venturefest Oxford networking event Now retired, former group director of communications at Oxford Instruments is putting her expertise and experience to good use, steering the strategic vision of Venturefest. Lynn spoke to inbusiness about the upcoming Venturefest annual networking event on 29 June, and mentioned how, after 18 years, Venturefest has grown into a year-round series of activities, including the bi-annual Pitchfest event for high-tech entrepreneurs and investors. One company, Chief Executive of BioMe Soren Thomsen, who participated in Pitchfest and attending the upcoming event in June said of Venturefest: While working as scientists at the University of Oxford, the advice and feedback we receive from new business nurturing organisations such as Venturefest is invaluable and we are looking forward to further developing our business skills. Moving to the new "gem" of a venue at the King's Centre in Osney Mead and introducing a new, dynamic online networking system are part of the exciting new developments to the annual event. Another spin-off event is the launch of TechTonic, a new networking support group for female entrepreneurs. Besides Venturefest, Lynn has taken the advice of her former company chairman Nigel Keen who said to divide your retirement in three: one third for paid enterprise, one third for yourself, and one third giving back to community.  Of this, Lynn said: I have discovered I have a talent for painting and am really enjoying attending classes, while I travel as much as I can and see my four grandchildren. And the other third is taken up with being a Samaritan which is really giving something back. For more details about the annual event, register and get connected at: http://www.venturefestoxford.com/venturefest-2016/  To read the full article, visit: http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/eeditions/     READ MORE

Ensure you have Freedom to Operate (FTO) when patenting your product

Ensure you have Freedom to Operate (FTO) when patenting your product

You have developed a new product. You might have patented it. You are ready to start selling your product. But does anyone else have any patents which could be used to stop you selling your product? This is the question that a Freedom to Operate analysis sets out to answer. FTO analyses are usually carried out by companies which have a specific product or service that they wish to start marketing and selling. Before these companies start such commercial activities, it is prudent check to see whether they might infringe any third party patents in the countries where they wish to carry out these commercial activities. The fact that the companies might have their own patents is irrelevant: having your own patent does not give you any rights to ignore other people’s patents! The basic steps in an FTO analysis are as follows: Define what your company is doing and in which countries What is your company going to be doing? Manufacturing a product? Using a process? For example, if your company is making and selling a new product, then you will need to consider whether any third parties have any patents covering any steps in the manufacturing process, any of the intermediate products or any aspect of the final product. What countries are you going to be carrying out your commercial activities? The answer to this question will dictate which patent databases you will need to search. Commission an FTO search Once you have defined your company’s activities, you then need to consider how to search for patents in that area. Patent searching is a specialist task and it is often best out-sourced to specialist searching companies. The technical breadth of the search needs to be considered. A broad search is more likely to cover all patents of interest but might be very costly to analyse; whereas a search that is too narrow might not find all relevant patents. The FTO search should extend both to granted patents and patent applications in the countries of interest, because patent applications could later be granted. Analyse the results of the FTO search The FTO searcher will generally provide you with copies of the “hits” that have been found, together with a preliminary indication of the relevance of those hits.  The hits will then need to be considered indepth by a patent attorney who is familiar with that area of technology in order to determine the precise relevance (or otherwise) of the hits. The cost of analysing the FTO search results will depend largely on the number of hits that have been found and on the attorney’s time which is needed to review them fully. For any of the most relevant documents, it will be necessary to consider what actions the company can take.  If the relevant document is a patent, has it nearly expired?  Can you design around the patents? Can you get a license from the patent owner? Is the patent valid or can you challenge it? Your patent attorney will be able to advise you on all of these options. Dehns Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys is exhibiting at Venturefest on 29 June. Register now and Get Connected.     READ MORE

Ensure you have Freedom to Operate (FTO) when patenting your product

Ensure you have Freedom to Operate (FTO) when patenting your product

You have developed a new product. You might have patented it. You are ready to start selling your product. But does anyone else have any patents which could be used to stop you selling your product? This is the question that a Freedom to Operate analysis sets out to answer. FTO analyses are usually carried out by companies which have a specific product or service that they wish to start marketing and selling. Before these companies start such commercial activities, it is prudent check to see whether they might infringe any third party patents in the countries where they wish to carry out these commercial activities. The fact that the companies might have their own patents is irrelevant: having your own patent does not give you any rights to ignore other people’s patents! The basic steps in an FTO analysis are as follows: Define what your company is doing and in which countries What is your company going to be doing? Manufacturing a product? Using a process? For example, if your company is making and selling a new product, then you will need to consider whether any third parties have any patents covering any steps in the manufacturing process, any of the intermediate products or any aspect of the final product. What countries are you going to be carrying out your commercial activities? The answer to this question will dictate which patent databases you will need to search. Commission an FTO search Once you have defined your company’s activities, you then need to consider how to search for patents in that area. Patent searching is a specialist task and it is often best out-sourced to specialist searching companies. The technical breadth of the search needs to be considered. A broad search is more likely to cover all patents of interest but might be very costly to analyse; whereas a search that is too narrow might not find all relevant patents. The FTO search should extend both to granted patents and patent applications in the countries of interest, because patent applications could later be granted. Analyse the results of the FTO search The FTO searcher will generally provide you with copies of the “hits” that have been found, together with a preliminary indication of the relevance of those hits.  The hits will then need to be considered indepth by a patent attorney who is familiar with that area of technology in order to determine the precise relevance (or otherwise) of the hits. The cost of analysing the FTO search results will depend largely on the number of hits that have been found and on the attorney’s time which is needed to review them fully. For any of the most relevant documents, it will be necessary to consider what actions the company can take.  If the relevant document is a patent, has it nearly expired?  Can you design around the patents? Can you get a license from the patent owner? Is the patent valid or can you challenge it? Your patent attorney will be able to advise you on all of these options. Dehns Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys is exhibiting at Venturefest on 29 June. Register now and Get Connected.     READ MORE

Ready for investment and exit?

Ready for investment and exit?

The following are some issues to consider when seeking investment or growing a business. Addressing these as you go along can help you become a more valuable proposition and save a lot of time, money and energy later on. Key Contracts Some companies do work without written contracts – but you should not be one of them. It is important that agreements are recorded in writing, so it is clear to investors/buyers what the terms are. Investors/buyers will want to know the details of key contracts and whether you are locked into any long-term or unprofitable contracts. Look out for contractual terms that allow the other side to terminate easily but prevent you from doing so, or that place indemnities and large liabilities on you, and ensure you protect your Intellectual Property (IP). Change-of-control provisions may allow the other side to terminate if you sell a specified stake in your business: these should be carefully considered, and avoided if you are gearing towards sale. Best of all, have a proper standard contract that you can use. Who actually owns the IP? Generally, IP created in the course of employment is owned by the employer. Make sure your contracts do not alter this position and clearly define the employee’s role. Conversely, the default legal position for consultants and third parties is that they own the IP: make sure they transfer IP ownership to you by a written agreement. Is your IP registered? If it is registered in the names of others (e.g. founders), written transfer or licences should be entered into. Register IP Some forms of IP require registration, and securing this can increase value. Further, you do not want to broadcast your ideas and admit to others that you have not registered IP. Take steps to limit disclosure of sensitive IP, and make sure any parties to whom it is disclosed, or who have access to it (including investors/buyers), enter into written confidentiality obligations. Management and Shareholders Companies are required to keep shareholder and director information at Companies House and in their own registers. You should maintain these records so it is clear who the existing shareholders are and what shares and rights they own and consider whether there is anybody not recorded in there who have rights or expectations to acquire shares. If there is more than one shareholder, the default legal rules governing voting and information rights may not be suitable and you may want to enter into a shareholders’ agreement to regulate the decision process. Agreements with Key Personnel Investors/buyers will want to know that key personnel are committed to the business, and may want to see written contractual obligations confirming this. Is there anything to stop key personnel simply walking away?  If they do, have you got protections in place to stop them setting up in competition and poaching personnel or customers? SEIS/EIS This is an attractive relief for investors: check whether your company qualifies, consider applying for advance assurance from HMRC, and make sure shares are fully paid up upon issue. Addressing the above from incorporation through to sale should help add value to a business, reassure investors and buyers, and achieve a successful exit. Laytons Solicitors will be attending Venturefest on 29 June. Register now and use the new networking Get Connected system to arrange a meeting with them.  READ MORE

An introduction to Price Per Point

An introduction to Price Per Point

What is Price Per Point? Price Per Point (PPP) is a new way of charging to build a product. PPP balances the risk of a project between the client and the agency, and it incentivises the agency to work efficiently - and to frequently deliver completed parts of a project while keeping the quality of the work high. Using PPP we bill clients based on the components that we complete and deliver to them. This has obvious benefits over traditional ways of billing. Let’s look at how… The problems with fixed-priced billing The benefits of an agile approach are clear. It encourages efficiency and reduces the time wasted on a project by allowing the business to make multiple iterative changes to the specification while the software is being built. But, if the scope of a project is flexible - and changes as the project progresses - it is impossible to fix a price against it. The problems with paying by the hour There are a two fundamental problems with paying by the hour (or sprint): There is no incentive for the agency to work more efficiently - in fact, they get paid less if they do If the agency’s estimates for a project are incorrect, the client is hit with unexpected costs (conversely, the agency actually makes more money) The client shoulders the risk. No link between payment and delivery With no link the agency can get sloppy - perhaps components remain uncompleted, or technical debt starts to accumulate. In many organisations Agile has a bad name, not because the methodology is flawed, but because the commercial basis of Agile contracts encourages sloppy practice. How PPP actually works There are four straightforward steps to PPP billing: At a distance we break the project up into its component parts, usually in a workshop with our client. There may be 100s of components. We then estimate each component using ‘points’ . Using a consistent method, we make estimates of the effort, in ‘points’, that it will take to deliver each component of the software. In batches the project’s component parts are scheduled for build. We document the specification (acceptance criteria), review the ‘points’ estimate, and fix it for each component. At this point we guarantee that we’ll deliver each completed component for its set cost (or points value) - meaning we carry the risk. We deliver working software in incremental pieces. Each component is designed, built and tested before we send it to the client. If it doesn’t meet the client’s criteria, it is passed back. And we only get paid after the acceptance of each component. White October will be an Exhibitor at this year's Venturefest on 29 June. Dave Fletcher will be speaking at the session on Digital Product Development at 9.30am and a session on Procuring an agency at 16.15. Get connected now.   READ MORE

Ready for investment and exit?

Ready for investment and exit?

The following are some issues to consider when seeking investment or growing a business. Addressing these as you go along can help you become a more valuable proposition and save a lot of time, money and energy later on. Key Contracts Some companies do work without written contracts – but you should not be one of them. It is important that agreements are recorded in writing, so it is clear to investors/buyers what the terms are. Investors/buyers will want to know the details of key contracts and whether you are locked into any long-term or unprofitable contracts. Look out for contractual terms that allow the other side to terminate easily but prevent you from doing so, or that place indemnities and large liabilities on you, and ensure you protect your Intellectual Property (IP). Change-of-control provisions may allow the other side to terminate if you sell a specified stake in your business: these should be carefully considered, and avoided if you are gearing towards sale. Best of all, have a proper standard contract that you can use. Who actually owns the IP? Generally, IP created in the course of employment is owned by the employer. Make sure your contracts do not alter this position and clearly define the employee’s role. Conversely, the default legal position for consultants and third parties is that they own the IP: make sure they transfer IP ownership to you by a written agreement. Is your IP registered? If it is registered in the names of others (e.g. founders), written transfer or licences should be entered into. Register IP Some forms of IP require registration, and securing this can increase value. Further, you do not want to broadcast your ideas and admit to others that you have not registered IP. Take steps to limit disclosure of sensitive IP, and make sure any parties to whom it is disclosed, or who have access to it (including investors/buyers), enter into written confidentiality obligations. Management and Shareholders Companies are required to keep shareholder and director information at Companies House and in their own registers. You should maintain these records so it is clear who the existing shareholders are and what shares and rights they own and consider whether there is anybody not recorded in there who have rights or expectations to acquire shares. If there is more than one shareholder, the default legal rules governing voting and information rights may not be suitable and you may want to enter into a shareholders’ agreement to regulate the decision process. Agreements with Key Personnel Investors/buyers will want to know that key personnel are committed to the business, and may want to see written contractual obligations confirming this. Is there anything to stop key personnel simply walking away?  If they do, have you got protections in place to stop them setting up in competition and poaching personnel or customers? SEIS/EIS This is an attractive relief for investors: check whether your company qualifies, consider applying for advance assurance from HMRC, and make sure shares are fully paid up upon issue. Addressing the above from incorporation through to sale should help add value to a business, reassure investors and buyers, and achieve a successful exit. Laytons Solicitors will be attending Venturefest on 29 June. Register now and use the new networking Get Connected system to arrange a meeting with them.  READ MORE

An introduction to Price Per Point

An introduction to Price Per Point

What is Price Per Point? Price Per Point (PPP) is a new way of charging to build a product. PPP balances the risk of a project between the client and the agency, and it incentivises the agency to work efficiently - and to frequently deliver completed parts of a project while keeping the quality of the work high. Using PPP we bill clients based on the components that we complete and deliver to them. This has obvious benefits over traditional ways of billing. Let’s look at how… The problems with fixed-priced billing The benefits of an agile approach are clear. It encourages efficiency and reduces the time wasted on a project by allowing the business to make multiple iterative changes to the specification while the software is being built. But, if the scope of a project is flexible - and changes as the project progresses - it is impossible to fix a price against it. The problems with paying by the hour There are a two fundamental problems with paying by the hour (or sprint): There is no incentive for the agency to work more efficiently - in fact, they get paid less if they do If the agency’s estimates for a project are incorrect, the client is hit with unexpected costs (conversely, the agency actually makes more money) The client shoulders the risk. No link between payment and delivery With no link the agency can get sloppy - perhaps components remain uncompleted, or technical debt starts to accumulate. In many organisations Agile has a bad name, not because the methodology is flawed, but because the commercial basis of Agile contracts encourages sloppy practice. How PPP actually works There are four straightforward steps to PPP billing: At a distance we break the project up into its component parts, usually in a workshop with our client. There may be 100s of components. We then estimate each component using ‘points’ . Using a consistent method, we make estimates of the effort, in ‘points’, that it will take to deliver each component of the software. In batches the project’s component parts are scheduled for build. We document the specification (acceptance criteria), review the ‘points’ estimate, and fix it for each component. At this point we guarantee that we’ll deliver each completed component for its set cost (or points value) - meaning we carry the risk. We deliver working software in incremental pieces. Each component is designed, built and tested before we send it to the client. If it doesn’t meet the client’s criteria, it is passed back. And we only get paid after the acceptance of each component. White October will be an Exhibitor at this year's Venturefest on 29 June. Dave Fletcher will be speaking at the session on Digital Product Development at 9.30am and a session on Procuring an agency at 16.15. Get connected now.   READ MORE

Cyber-crime: What’s the risk to your business?

Cyber-crime: What’s the risk to your business?

Research from Aviva (the UK’s largest commercial insurer) shows that: More than two in five businesses believe they are unlikely to be a target for cyber-crime. Almost a quarter are worried but not sure what to do to protect themselves. 8% haven’t thought about the risk at all. However, the Office for National Statistics recently revealed there were 2.5m incidents of cyber-crime just between May and August 2015. Cyber criminals are increasingly targeting SME businesses due to the lack of security, awareness, risk management and training. Here are just a few methods cyber criminals use: Hacking – hacking into your system or stealing data from a mobile device. Phishing – sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies to obtain personal information. Pharming – directing internet users to a bogus website that looks genuine to obtain personal information. Denial of service attack – attacking your website, preventing anyone from accessing your computers or website. Ransomware – denying access to your files until you pay a ransom. A business told a recent BBC Scotland phone-in how they were affected by a virus that came in via email - then received a ransom note demanding money to have access restored. They didn’t know how to sort the problem out – but decided not to pay anything to the criminals. It took three to six months to restore everything because they hadn’t carried out regular back-ups. This meant that some information, such as invoices, was lost. They described the impact as being devastating to their business and very difficult to get over. Simple steps you can take to prevent your business becoming a victim of cyber-crime: Have a security process in place to promote safe practice in the workplace – don’t open suspect emails or attachments. Make sure all data systems have passwords and change them regularly. Keep firewalls and antivirus software active and up-to-date. Back-up your data regularly and keep copies away from work premises. Have an incident response plan in place in the event of a breach/cyber-attack. Focus Oxford LLP can help make sure your business is protected with specialist cyber liability insurance. Focus will be exhibiting at Venturefest on 29 June. Register and meet them to find out more about protecting your business from cyber-crime. Use our new Get Connected networking system to arrange a time to meet. Or get in touch with Paul Monaco via email [email protected] READ MORE

Tax incentives and strategies for innovation and technology companies

Tax incentives and strategies for innovation and technology companies

The current political and economic focus is on encouraging British companies to do what they excel at – innovation. This is bolstered by some very generous tax incentives. Research & Development (R&D) tax credits represent an effective ‘subsidy’ of 26% to 33% of qualifying R&D expenditure, in addition to the ‘usual’ tax relief that the company would expect. If the company’s R&D expenditure is funded by grants or third parties, a different form of R&D tax incentive applies, which can generate tax savings worth 8.8% of the funded R&D expenditure. The Patent Box tax incentive was introduced with effect from 1 April 2013 and can be combined with a claim for R&D credits. It provides additional tax relief which halves the tax liability on profits from certain patents and patented products to just 10%. Recent EU objections to the Patent Box have now been overcome and it is set to continue, although Patent Box benefits will increasingly be linked to the company’s underlying R&D expenditure. These generous tax incentives bring with them opportunities for planning, but also some complexity. It is important to consider the overall commercial, accounting and tax position when devising appropriate planning. The tax and accounting landscape for Innovation and Technology companies holds some potential complexities that need special consideration: Subcontracted R&D, which can affect eligibility for R&D tax credits and the scheme which applies. Funded R&D activities, which affect the schemes of R&D tax incentives which apply. R&D Expenditure Credits, which are reported differently in the financial statements and can affect the timing as well as the amount of tax payable. Corporate groups, where arrangements between companies can affect the R&D tax credits and also the Patent Box relief. ‘Capitalisation’ of development costs, where a company’s decision to report R&D expenditure as an asset, rather than as a cost in the year creates much greater complexity in the overall tax treatment of the costs and eligibility for R&D tax incentives. Interaction between R&D tax incentives and Patent Box, which will require companies to ‘track and trace’ their qualifying R&D expenditure in an appropriate way. Hazlewoods’ Innovation and Technology Team helps companies to navigate their way through the tax rules to achieve the best outcome.  We offer genuine expertise in R&D tax credits and Patent Box relief, combined with specialist tax knowledge in using these incentives in planning for the ‘bigger picture’. In the year to April 2016, we helped our clients to identify qualifying R&D expenditure in excess of £27 million, generating tax repayments approaching £5 million. This is one of the reasons we were awarded the prestigious Accountancy Age Award for Top 50 Tax Team of the Year  for 2015 and were finalists in the Taxation awards for both 2015 and 2016. If you would like some help or advice from our specialist team, please contact David Clift or Jemma Dixon on 01242 680000 for a free discussion. Hazlewoods is exhibiting at Venturefest on 29 June. [box style="5e"] [separator headline="h2" title="Book an Appointment with David Clift"] [separator headline="h2" title="Get Connected"]Pre-book your meeting with David Clift at Venturefest Oxford now. [/box] READ MORE

Cyber-crime: What’s the risk to your business?

Cyber-crime: What’s the risk to your business?

Research from Aviva (the UK’s largest commercial insurer) shows that: More than two in five businesses believe they are unlikely to be a target for cyber-crime. Almost a quarter are worried but not sure what to do to protect themselves. 8% haven’t thought about the risk at all. However, the Office for National Statistics recently revealed there were 2.5m incidents of cyber-crime just between May and August 2015. Cyber criminals are increasingly targeting SME businesses due to the lack of security, awareness, risk management and training. Here are just a few methods cyber criminals use: Hacking – hacking into your system or stealing data from a mobile device. Phishing – sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies to obtain personal information. Pharming – directing internet users to a bogus website that looks genuine to obtain personal information. Denial of service attack – attacking your website, preventing anyone from accessing your computers or website. Ransomware – denying access to your files until you pay a ransom. A business told a recent BBC Scotland phone-in how they were affected by a virus that came in via email - then received a ransom note demanding money to have access restored. They didn’t know how to sort the problem out – but decided not to pay anything to the criminals. It took three to six months to restore everything because they hadn’t carried out regular back-ups. This meant that some information, such as invoices, was lost. They described the impact as being devastating to their business and very difficult to get over. Simple steps you can take to prevent your business becoming a victim of cyber-crime: Have a security process in place to promote safe practice in the workplace – don’t open suspect emails or attachments. Make sure all data systems have passwords and change them regularly. Keep firewalls and antivirus software active and up-to-date. Back-up your data regularly and keep copies away from work premises. Have an incident response plan in place in the event of a breach/cyber-attack. Focus Oxford LLP can help make sure your business is protected with specialist cyber liability insurance. Focus will be exhibiting at Venturefest on 29 June. Register and meet them to find out more about protecting your business from cyber-crime. Use our new Get Connected networking system to arrange a time to meet. Or get in touch with Paul Monaco via email [email protected] READ MORE

Tax incentives and strategies for innovation and technology companies

Tax incentives and strategies for innovation and technology companies

The current political and economic focus is on encouraging British companies to do what they excel at – innovation. This is bolstered by some very generous tax incentives. Research & Development (R&D) tax credits represent an effective ‘subsidy’ of 26% to 33% of qualifying R&D expenditure, in addition to the ‘usual’ tax relief that the company would expect. If the company’s R&D expenditure is funded by grants or third parties, a different form of R&D tax incentive applies, which can generate tax savings worth 8.8% of the funded R&D expenditure. The Patent Box tax incentive was introduced with effect from 1 April 2013 and can be combined with a claim for R&D credits. It provides additional tax relief which halves the tax liability on profits from certain patents and patented products to just 10%. Recent EU objections to the Patent Box have now been overcome and it is set to continue, although Patent Box benefits will increasingly be linked to the company’s underlying R&D expenditure. These generous tax incentives bring with them opportunities for planning, but also some complexity. It is important to consider the overall commercial, accounting and tax position when devising appropriate planning. The tax and accounting landscape for Innovation and Technology companies holds some potential complexities that need special consideration: Subcontracted R&D, which can affect eligibility for R&D tax credits and the scheme which applies. Funded R&D activities, which affect the schemes of R&D tax incentives which apply. R&D Expenditure Credits, which are reported differently in the financial statements and can affect the timing as well as the amount of tax payable. Corporate groups, where arrangements between companies can affect the R&D tax credits and also the Patent Box relief. ‘Capitalisation’ of development costs, where a company’s decision to report R&D expenditure as an asset, rather than as a cost in the year creates much greater complexity in the overall tax treatment of the costs and eligibility for R&D tax incentives. Interaction between R&D tax incentives and Patent Box, which will require companies to ‘track and trace’ their qualifying R&D expenditure in an appropriate way. Hazlewoods’ Innovation and Technology Team helps companies to navigate their way through the tax rules to achieve the best outcome.  We offer genuine expertise in R&D tax credits and Patent Box relief, combined with specialist tax knowledge in using these incentives in planning for the ‘bigger picture’. In the year to April 2016, we helped our clients to identify qualifying R&D expenditure in excess of £27 million, generating tax repayments approaching £5 million. This is one of the reasons we were awarded the prestigious Accountancy Age Award for Top 50 Tax Team of the Year  for 2015 and were finalists in the Taxation awards for both 2015 and 2016. If you would like some help or advice from our specialist team, please contact David Clift or Jemma Dixon on 01242 680000 for a free discussion. Hazlewoods is exhibiting at Venturefest on 29 June. [box style="5e"] [separator headline="h2" title="Book an Appointment with David Clift"] [separator headline="h2" title="Get Connected"]Pre-book your meeting with David Clift at Venturefest Oxford now. [/box] READ MORE

The Oxford Times: Hi-tech pill which will collect samples inside the gut is quite science fiction

The Oxford Times: Hi-tech pill which will collect samples inside the gut is quite science fiction

A fascinating new Oxford Times article highlights the ground-breaking work of Oxford tech startup, BioMe. The BioMe team behind the development of a revolutionary pill (from left) Matthias Thurner, Agnieszka Chomka, Soren Thomsen and Patrick Albers stand in front of the Radcliffe Camera The article highlights how "a hi-tech pill being developed by a team of Oxford scientists could revolutionise the way doctors test for some diseases". Further, "with pills expected to cost £2 each, compared to £800 for an endoscopy session, it could herald a breakthrough for the cash-strapped NHS." BioMe was a former finalist at Venturefest's funding event for investor-ready entrepreneurs, Pitchfest, and has also been shortlisted for The Oxford Trust Enterprise Awards 2016. Read more     READ MORE

The Oxford Times: New group is tonic for Oxford’s tech females

The Oxford Times: New group is tonic for Oxford’s tech females

An Oxford Times announcement on 9th June 2016 highlighted the upcoming launch of a new exciting network for women entrepreneurs: TechTonic.   Co-founder Nicola McConville of Oxford-based law firm Penningtons Manches said: I asked a few people here if they could name a female business investor, other than Oxford Instruments’ Audrey Wood and people struggled to come up with a name. She added: I took soundings from women and men who are prominent and influential in Oxford’s tech scene, asking if they shared the view there was a gap? But if so, did they think we do something about it?   TechTonic founders Nicola McConville, Sue Staunton and Lynn Shepherd Other co-founders are Lynn Shepherd, former-communications director at Oxford Instruments and executive chairman of innovation event Venturefest and Sue Staunton of Oxford accountants James Cowper Kreston, who works with tech clients. Ms Shepherd said: More and more women are either part of the tech sector or are wanting to join it. We are still in the minority – you only have to sit around a meeting table and count the number of ladies present but if we can strengthen that voice and encourage more to 'just do it', I will be quite happy. Join us at Venturefest 29 June and be part of this conversation. Venturefest is proud to be a supporter of this exciting new initiative, the brainchild of Nicola McConville   READ MORE

Press release: TechTonic support network for female entrepreneurs launching on 29 June at Venturefest

Press release: TechTonic support network for female entrepreneurs launching on 29 June at Venturefest

A new network tackling the lack of support for entrepreneurial and aspirational women in the technology sector in Oxfordshire, TechTonic, will be announced at the county’s premier business networking event, Venturefest Oxford on 29 June. TechTonic founders will gather delegates’ feedback and opinions at the major business event to help shape the network and deliver support where most needed. With a mission to provide connections that will enable entrepreneurial women to fulfil their ambitions in the technology sector and reach their full potential, TechTonic aims to bring together aspirational people both virtually and physically to share experiences and advice. While the forum is aimed at the women of Oxfordshire, speakers at its events and connections will include men as well as women, to ensure a broad spectrum of knowledge and expertise is offered. The idea for Tectonic was the brainchild of Nicola McConville, a corporate lawyer specialising in the technology sector and a Partner at Penningtons Manches in the Thames Valley. As she explains, The idea was prompted by a Woman’s Hour programme on Radio 4 that I heard about a ‘women in tech’ network in Cambridge and it begged the question as to why nothing similar exists in Oxfordshire? Furthermore, fewer than 5% of my portfolio of technology clients are female, so it set me thinking about how we could help existing or would-be women entrepreneurs to reach their full potential. There are programmes to support women in tech in the academic community and some networks to support women in the business community, but nothing that bridges the gap. I hope TechTonic can be that bridge and provide a channel of communication and support for all women interested in making a living from tech. What is clear is that there is huge untapped potential amongst the women of Oxfordshire and if it could be harnessed, directed and supported in the right way, I believe the companies and technologies which emerge could have global impact far beyond our immediate local economy.   TechTonic is a forum shaped by the women involved in its development. Nicola McConville is joined by Lynn Shepherd from Venturefest Oxford, Sue Staunton from accountants and business advisers, James Cowper Kreston, as well as serial entrepreneurs Nicky Chambers, Riham Satti (Mevitae) and Joy Foster (TechPixies)and representatives of Isis Innovation and the Innovation Forum – all working towards putting the new support resource in place. Lynn Shepherd, Executive Chair at Venturefest Oxford says, We are proud to support TechTonic and believe that it can only be a positive opportunity that will add to the already vibrant mix of entrepreneurship and successful businesses in Oxfordshire. More and more women are either part of the tech sector or are wanting to join it. We are still in the minority - you only have to sit around a meeting table and count the number of ladies present - but if we can strengthen that voice and encourage more to 'just do it', I will be content.   Anyone interested in finding out more about the network is invited to join the founders at Venturefest Oxford on 29 June at The King’s Centre in Osney Mead for an informal chat. Tickets to Venturefest Oxford cost £30 if booked before 28 June and then £40 at the door on 29 June. The price includes entrance to all sessions (including the Breakfast session), exhibition and networking areas, refreshments throughout the day (including lunch), and evening drinks reception. Student entry is free of charge – valid ID will be required. Those who cannot attend will be able to fill in a short online survey. TechTonic is going to be officially launched in October with a full programme and dates of monthly meetings with inspiring speakers. For more information, visit www.techtonic.org.uk For full details of the Venturefest Oxford 2016 programme visit www.venturefestoxford.com   -Ends- MEDIA CONTACTS For further information, images, or to arrange interviews contact: Susannah Penn or Jane Bevan at Firebird PR on 01235 835297 / 07977 459547 or via email to [email protected] or [email protected]   AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW Lynn Shepherd, Executive Director, Venturefest Oxford Nicola McConville, Penningtons Manches  NOTES TO EDITORS Venturefest is a gateway for entrepreneurs and innovators to connect with investors and advisors at all stages of the business life cycle. Venturefest Oxford’s mission is to provide a platform to support the innovation eco system in Oxfordshire, offering new and growing businesses, investors and innovators connections to support, services and opportunities. Venturefest Oxford is now in its 18th year. Venturefest Oxford has gone from strength to strength, with Yorkshire and Bristol using the model to establish sister events. Venturefest and Innovate UK, formerly the Technology Strategy Board are now rolling out annual events across the entire UK as part of a national Venturefest Network, supported by KTN – The Knowledge Transfer Network. The Board of Venturefest Oxford includes key local organisations such as the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, The University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford Innovation and The Oxford Trust as well as key local Angel and VC organisations and tech-based business representatives. READ MORE

Five reasons to love KTP: the benefits to your company of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Five reasons to love KTP: the benefits to your company of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

I’m often asked why a company should consider using Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, and while every business has its own particular reasons, I’ve come to believe there are five that apply to most: to increase profit to attract new talent to spread the risk of innovation to find partners to get noticed I’ll take a look at these in more detail. But first, a reminder of the key points of KTP: it’s based on a project, planned in advance between a company and a university, that typically lasts two years. It delivers some innovation – be it a product, a technology, a system or a capability based on university knowledge – to make the company more profitable. It’s achieved by recruiting a recent graduate, who leads the project in the company, but who is employed and supervised by the university. Up to two-thirds of the cost is contributed by government. [caption id="attachment_1933" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Glenn Le Faou, Oxford Brookes University KTP Associate at CMS Industries, working on designs for the 'aircharge' product range[/caption] Reason 1: to increase profit Companies go in for KTP in the expectation of increased profits, and the latest national survey confirms this perfectly by showing an average annual increase in profits before tax of more than £1m per annum. It’s clear that KTP succeeds not just in bringing in new ideas from universities, but also in making them work for a company in a way that translates directly into business growth. Reason 2: to attract talent An ageing workforce and a dearth of new recruits: if you’re in engineering or IT, among other areas, you’ll recognise this scenario and appreciate the dangers it brings. With KTP, there’s the winning combination of a challenging project and support from a university that can appeal to the best young talent. The KTP Associate that we recruit for each of our projects is an ambitious young person, and they benefit from exceptional training and development while on the job. In most cases they go on to work for the company; it’s an obvious strategy for a business that needs bright new people. Reason 3: to spread risk If that clever R&D idea, or that enticing market opportunity, comes with a few uncertainties, what to do? Smart companies will look to mitigate the risk by seeking an experienced partner, or perhaps some external funds. KTP comes with both: academic experts from the university, and funding from government. It’s an ‘innovation platform’ that makes it possible to explore new opportunities in a manageable way. Reason 4: to find a partner Once a working relationship is established in a KTP, companies often find they get other benefits from partnership with a university – maybe students on projects and placements, or staff to consult about technical issues. There may be lab or workshop equipment to use that’s beyond the reach of the business; the list goes on. Reason 5: to get noticed Many companies appreciate the endorsement of their work by an independent, research-led body. The outcome of a KTP can therefore be a product or process that is seen to be tested and validated; this can raise the profile of a business, demonstrate its credentials and enhance its reputation. To find out more about KTPs, talk to John Corlett  KTP Manager at Oxford Brookes University, Stand 7 at Venturefest Oxford 2016. Book an appointment via Venturefest’s new Get Connected networking system or email: [email protected] READ MORE

Five reasons to love KTP: the benefits to your company of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Five reasons to love KTP: the benefits to your company of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

I’m often asked why a company should consider using Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, and while every business has its own particular reasons, I’ve come to believe there are five that apply to most: to increase profit to attract new talent to spread the risk of innovation to find partners to get noticed I’ll take a look at these in more detail. But first, a reminder of the key points of KTP: it’s based on a project, planned in advance between a company and a university, that typically lasts two years. It delivers some innovation – be it a product, a technology, a system or a capability based on university knowledge – to make the company more profitable. It’s achieved by recruiting a recent graduate, who leads the project in the company, but who is employed and supervised by the university. Up to two-thirds of the cost is contributed by government. [caption id="attachment_1933" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Glenn Le Faou, Oxford Brookes University KTP Associate at CMS Industries, working on designs for the 'aircharge' product range[/caption] Reason 1: to increase profit Companies go in for KTP in the expectation of increased profits, and the latest national survey confirms this perfectly by showing an average annual increase in profits before tax of more than £1m per annum. It’s clear that KTP succeeds not just in bringing in new ideas from universities, but also in making them work for a company in a way that translates directly into business growth. Reason 2: to attract talent An ageing workforce and a dearth of new recruits: if you’re in engineering or IT, among other areas, you’ll recognise this scenario and appreciate the dangers it brings. With KTP, there’s the winning combination of a challenging project and support from a university that can appeal to the best young talent. The KTP Associate that we recruit for each of our projects is an ambitious young person, and they benefit from exceptional training and development while on the job. In most cases they go on to work for the company; it’s an obvious strategy for a business that needs bright new people. Reason 3: to spread risk If that clever R&D idea, or that enticing market opportunity, comes with a few uncertainties, what to do? Smart companies will look to mitigate the risk by seeking an experienced partner, or perhaps some external funds. KTP comes with both: academic experts from the university, and funding from government. It’s an ‘innovation platform’ that makes it possible to explore new opportunities in a manageable way. Reason 4: to find a partner Once a working relationship is established in a KTP, companies often find they get other benefits from partnership with a university – maybe students on projects and placements, or staff to consult about technical issues. There may be lab or workshop equipment to use that’s beyond the reach of the business; the list goes on. Reason 5: to get noticed Many companies appreciate the endorsement of their work by an independent, research-led body. The outcome of a KTP can therefore be a product or process that is seen to be tested and validated; this can raise the profile of a business, demonstrate its credentials and enhance its reputation. To find out more about KTPs, talk to John Corlett  KTP Manager at Oxford Brookes University, Stand 7 at Venturefest Oxford 2016. Book an appointment via Venturefest’s new Get Connected networking system or email: [email protected] READ MORE

The one-minute pitch: Make every second count

The one-minute pitch: Make every second count

I wish I had £1 for every person we interview who says “I wish I’d said …. ” as I turn the camera off.  It often doesn’t matter.  In most cases the piece works well with the footage we’ve captured, and viewers don’t miss the forgotten message. But of course it does matter to the person in front of the camera. They feel that with a bit more preparation they’d have got all their points across. If you’re an entrepreneur with a good story, a one-minute video is a great way to tell it.  The production doesn’t have to be complicated; a simple piece to camera can be very effective. The key to success is proper planning and preparation to ensure you get all your messages across and make every second count Want to give it a go? At Venturefest Oxford, on 29 June, we’re offering entrepreneurs the chance to give a one-minute pitch to video, to be booked in advance with us so participants will have time to prepare. If you’d like to take part, get in touch with us.  For now, here are some simple guidelines to get you started: Speak to one person: Have one viewer in your mind when writing your script and speak to them.  You’ll be more focused this way. Try reading your script out loud when you’re working on it, making adjustments to ensure you sound natural. Keep it simple: You can’t say everything, so think carefully about what your viewer would love to hear.  Avoid jargon and complex language - you want your message to be clear, simple and memorable. Make it personal: Your viewer wants to hear from YOU, so make your personality come across. Visualise: Your viewer will be listening and watching.  Support your words with simple visuals and, if there’s no budget for cutaways, use some props. Make your brand stand out: Ensure your viewer remembers your name and your brand.  Don’t let them confuse you with someone else. Repeat and summarise: Make your key points several times in different ways. Get the message home. Suppose you have a new product and are speaking to a potential customer.  You’re giving a piece to camera with cutaway shots and graphics.  Here’s an outline sketch for a 60-second piece: Introduce yourself: Who you are and why you are in business. 5 secs What is it that people need? Explain, in simple terms, the problems your idea will solve. 10 secs What is your solution? Describe what your idea does that wasn’t possible before. What opportunities does it open up for the buyer or user? 10 secs Why is your solution better than anyone else’s? What’s the compelling reason to buy from you? 10 secs Why should anyone believe you? What makes you capable, what are your credentials, your passion for this idea? 10 secs What’s your plan: Your next landmarks. Capture your viewer’s imagination about the future possibilities. 10 secs Finally … summarise your business in one simple sentence.  Tell them why it will make the world a better place. 5 secs. Book your One Minute Pitch with us If you’re attending Venturefest and would like to give a one-minute piece to camera, email Sam Cooper [email protected] to book a time slot.  We’ll only have a few available so get in touch as quickly as possible.  The video will take place on our stand (Number 13) during the show. See you at Venturefest! READ MORE

The one-minute pitch: Make every second count

The one-minute pitch: Make every second count

I wish I had £1 for every person we interview who says “I wish I’d said …. ” as I turn the camera off.  It often doesn’t matter.  In most cases the piece works well with the footage we’ve captured, and viewers don’t miss the forgotten message. But of course it does matter to the person in front of the camera. They feel that with a bit more preparation they’d have got all their points across. If you’re an entrepreneur with a good story, a one-minute video is a great way to tell it.  The production doesn’t have to be complicated; a simple piece to camera can be very effective. The key to success is proper planning and preparation to ensure you get all your messages across and make every second count Want to give it a go? At Venturefest Oxford, on 29 June, we’re offering entrepreneurs the chance to give a one-minute pitch to video, to be booked in advance with us so participants will have time to prepare. If you’d like to take part, get in touch with us.  For now, here are some simple guidelines to get you started: Speak to one person: Have one viewer in your mind when writing your script and speak to them.  You’ll be more focused this way. Try reading your script out loud when you’re working on it, making adjustments to ensure you sound natural. Keep it simple: You can’t say everything, so think carefully about what your viewer would love to hear.  Avoid jargon and complex language - you want your message to be clear, simple and memorable. Make it personal: Your viewer wants to hear from YOU, so make your personality come across. Visualise: Your viewer will be listening and watching.  Support your words with simple visuals and, if there’s no budget for cutaways, use some props. Make your brand stand out: Ensure your viewer remembers your name and your brand.  Don’t let them confuse you with someone else. Repeat and summarise: Make your key points several times in different ways. Get the message home. Suppose you have a new product and are speaking to a potential customer.  You’re giving a piece to camera with cutaway shots and graphics.  Here’s an outline sketch for a 60-second piece: Introduce yourself: Who you are and why you are in business. 5 secs What is it that people need? Explain, in simple terms, the problems your idea will solve. 10 secs What is your solution? Describe what your idea does that wasn’t possible before. What opportunities does it open up for the buyer or user? 10 secs Why is your solution better than anyone else’s? What’s the compelling reason to buy from you? 10 secs Why should anyone believe you? What makes you capable, what are your credentials, your passion for this idea? 10 secs What’s your plan: Your next landmarks. Capture your viewer’s imagination about the future possibilities. 10 secs Finally … summarise your business in one simple sentence.  Tell them why it will make the world a better place. 5 secs. Book your One Minute Pitch with us If you’re attending Venturefest and would like to give a one-minute piece to camera, email Sam Cooper [email protected] to book a time slot.  We’ll only have a few available so get in touch as quickly as possible.  The video will take place on our stand (Number 13) during the show. See you at Venturefest! READ MORE

Oxford Times: It’s who and what you know

Oxford Times: It’s who and what you know

A recent Oxford Times article (published 26 May 2016) highlighted some key speakers from this year’s fantastic programme of high-profile presentations. Venturefest Oxford 2016, set to take place on 29 June at the King’s Centre in Osney Mead Oxford, will host TV Apprentice finalist star, Bianca Miller; Global Head of Brand & Managing Director of Virgin Enterprises, Lisa Thomas well-known entrepreneur and broadcaster, Mark Stevenson; and CEO of Kintish Networking Skills, Will Kintish, amongst others. Rolling out an expanded programme of more than 20 interactive, practical business training sessions, the event aims to empower entrepreneurs with skills and knowledge in areas ranging from cyber security and digital marketing to intellectual property and the Internet of Things. Look out for the onsite mini-studio run by Oxford Digital Media and the highly anticipated EU debate about the In/Out campaign. The longstanding funding session akin to Dragons Den will feature throughout the day. And delegates can take advantage of our new Get Connected online networking system coming soon in June. Lynn Shepherd, Executive Chair of Venturefest Oxford is quoted as saying: Innovation is a powerful catalyst in driving economic growth and Venturefest Oxford plays a critical role in shaping the future of high-tech in the county. This year’s programme is set to be the best ever, with a great line-up of dynamic speakers and a range of sessions designed to stimulate innovation, support entrepreneurship and broker investment. Register now READ MORE

Press release: Gutsy biotech start-up heads for success with support from Venturefest Oxford

Press release: Gutsy biotech start-up heads for success with support from Venturefest Oxford

A group of young entrepreneurs with roots in the medical and biological sciences proves that Oxfordshire is the place to be when it comes to innovation and starting up businesses. Only 12 months after registering with Companies House, BioMe Oxford have begun drafting a promising patent that aims to catalyse a transformation in gut health. Looking to develop a minimally-invasive and cost-effective device for sampling gut bacteria that could eventually advance the diagnosis of gastrointestinal disorders, the scientists and PhD students who formed this new biotech company received crucial support from Venturefest Oxford. After winning Idea Idol 2015, a competition for emerging businesses run by the University of Oxford’s entrepreneurship society Oxford Entrepreneurs, BioMe Oxford presented at Pitchfest in November 2015. This event, run by Venturefest Oxford, gives budding businesses a unique opportunity to pitch in front of multiple potential investors in a bid to secure core funding. Pitchfest helped the ambitious team to establish essential links with the investor community and improve their pitch through prior presentation training. Thanks to the advice and connections these events provided, the start-up has been able to successfully attract seed funding which will be used to fund prototype development. Looking forward, the CEO at BioMe Oxford, Soren Thomsen is confident that their progress to market will be rapid, Our technology will provide a method for gut sampling that is superior to existing methods (such as faecal swabs) in a number of ways, and we believe that our invention could revolutionise this field. Based on latest progress, I expect that the product could be rolled out in 2-3 years for research purposes and in 4-5 years for human health diagnostics. The new sampling device, an ingestible capsule, will allow researchers to target any part of the intestines and will eliminate the need for electronic machinery. In the near future, this simple yet brilliant invention could be used to study gut-related health issues such as inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome without the need for invasive interventions. Touching upon the many resources available for start-up businesses, Soren Thomsen comments, While working as scientists at the University of Oxford, the advice and feedback we receive from new business nurturing organisations such as Venturefest Oxford is invaluable. We plan to attend this year’s Venturefest at the King’s Centre on 29 June and we are looking forward to further developing our business skills and relationships. Lynn Shepherd, Executive Chair at Venturefest Oxford says: Our reason for being is to connect entrepreneurs with people who have resources to invest in them and help them grow their business. The success of BioMe Oxford proves that the central idea behind Venturefest works very well and I am sure that we will be able to provide further support and guidance to the company, for example during our annual networking event which this year is set to be bigger and better than ever before. BioMe Oxford has also been entered for The Oxford Trust Enterprise Awards 2016, which will be presented at a gala dinner on Tuesday June 28th, the night before Venturefest Oxford 2016 and will help launch the annual event by showcasing the region’s new business innovation stars. For full details of the Venturefest Oxford 2016 programme or to book tickets visit www.venturefestoxford.com. -Ends-   MEDIA CONTACTS For further information, images, or to arrange interviews contact: Susannah Penn or Jane Bevan at Firebird PR on 01235 835297 / 07977 459547 or via email to [email protected] or [email protected] NOTES TO EDITORS Venturefest is a gateway for entrepreneurs and innovators to connect with investors and advisors at all stages of the business life cycle. Venturefest Oxford’s mission is to provide a platform to support the innovation eco system in Oxfordshire, offering new and growing businesses, investors and innovators connections to support, services and opportunities Venturefest Oxford is now in its 18th year. Venturefest Oxford has gone from strength to strength, with Yorkshire and Bristol using the model to establish sister events. Venturefest and Innovate UK, formerly the Technology Strategy Board are now rolling out annual events across the entire UK as part of a national Venturefest Network, supported by KTN – The Knowledge Transfer Network. The Board of Venturefest Oxford includes key local organisations such as the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, The University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford Innovation and The Oxford Trust as well as key local Angel and VC organisations and tech-based business representatives. READ MORE

From idea to income: Marketing your innovation

From idea to income: Marketing your innovation

You may have come up with a product or service that is innovative and that meets a known need, or even a need that the marketplace doesn't yet realise it has, but at this point it isn't doing anything to increase your revenue. You may not even be entirely sure how you are going to market it. You may think that this is something you can think about towards the end of the project, when you have something concrete to sell. If this is your belief, you need to think again! If you have obtained grant funding for your project, you will know that the funding body wants to know about your exploitation (or commercialisation) plans from the outset. Many companies struggle to put together a document explaining how the company will increase its turnover and achieve the forecast return on investment (RoI) as a consequence of completing the project. Even if you don't have grant funding, it is important to think about your marketing plans right from the start, and to put them in writing. Writing an exploitation plan need not be as daunting as it can sometimes sound, and is simply a matter of providing the answers to some straightforward questions. What are you selling? Describe your product or service. Describe any alternative uses or applications. Why should anyone buy it? What is its USP? Why would anyone want it? Who will you sell it to? What is your intended market? Where is your intended market? How big is your potential market? Who are your customers? What , if any, are your alternative markets? How will you sell it? What is your pricing and sales strategy? What marketing methods will you use? Where and how will you advertise and sell? What is going to stop you selling it? Who is the competition and how do they compete with you? Risk analysis, e.g., IP risks, customer traction, suppliers, resources, etc. If you have answered all these questions, and updated your responses as your project progresses, you will be in a better position to market your product. You will also be able to demonstrate to investors and funding bodies that you have thought about these matters at the outset and continued to think about marketing your innovation throughout the life of your project. READ MORE

From idea to income: Marketing your innovation

From idea to income: Marketing your innovation

You may have come up with a product or service that is innovative and that meets a known need, or even a need that the marketplace doesn't yet realise it has, but at this point it isn't doing anything to increase your revenue. You may not even be entirely sure how you are going to market it. You may think that this is something you can think about towards the end of the project, when you have something concrete to sell. If this is your belief, you need to think again! If you have obtained grant funding for your project, you will know that the funding body wants to know about your exploitation (or commercialisation) plans from the outset. Many companies struggle to put together a document explaining how the company will increase its turnover and achieve the forecast return on investment (RoI) as a consequence of completing the project. Even if you don't have grant funding, it is important to think about your marketing plans right from the start, and to put them in writing. Writing an exploitation plan need not be as daunting as it can sometimes sound, and is simply a matter of providing the answers to some straightforward questions. What are you selling? Describe your product or service. Describe any alternative uses or applications. Why should anyone buy it? What is its USP? Why would anyone want it? Who will you sell it to? What is your intended market? Where is your intended market? How big is your potential market? Who are your customers? What , if any, are your alternative markets? How will you sell it? What is your pricing and sales strategy? What marketing methods will you use? Where and how will you advertise and sell? What is going to stop you selling it? Who is the competition and how do they compete with you? Risk analysis, e.g., IP risks, customer traction, suppliers, resources, etc. If you have answered all these questions, and updated your responses as your project progresses, you will be in a better position to market your product. You will also be able to demonstrate to investors and funding bodies that you have thought about these matters at the outset and continued to think about marketing your innovation throughout the life of your project. READ MORE

The do’s and don’ts of successful entrepreneurs

The do’s and don’ts of successful entrepreneurs

It is heartening to hear, that even the most successful entrepreneurs have made some mistakes along the way. Here are some ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts: Do remember that a brand follows a great service or product, not the other way around. Don’t project your hopes for the product or service onto your customer; what do they actually want? Do ensure your product or service has ‘natural inertia’ which means that it has to have enough of a differential on the current market to warrant customers using that product or service, and to ensure others don’t  copy what you are doing. Don’t fail to understand your customer – be the customer yourself. Do recognise that your product or service doesn’t have to be perfect before your launch – go for a ‘beta launch’, or is it possible to pitch and sell your product or service before it’s fully developed? Don’t delay getting early professional help and advice, e.g., legal and accountancy advice, for the sake of saving early costs – it will save you in the longer term. Do try doing a ‘Mum test’ before you pitch your business idea! If you can clearly and succinctly describe and explain your business idea to your Mum, then it’s more likely others will get it. Don’t settle for people who are ‘fit for purpose’. Aim to hire the best that you can possibly afford. Do be wary of bartering equity in return for expertise – you might regret it later on! Don’t overlook the importance of having very clear financial objectives from the outset - entrepreneurship can be a financially risky.   This article is based on 2016 interviews by Nicola Gardiner with Oxfordshire-based entrepreneurs and those who support local entrepreneurs. READ MORE

The do’s and don’ts of successful entrepreneurs

The do’s and don’ts of successful entrepreneurs

It is heartening to hear, that even the most successful entrepreneurs have made some mistakes along the way. Here are some ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts: Do remember that a brand follows a great service or product, not the other way around. Don’t project your hopes for the product or service onto your customer; what do they actually want? Do ensure your product or service has ‘natural inertia’ which means that it has to have enough of a differential on the current market to warrant customers using that product or service, and to ensure others don’t  copy what you are doing. Don’t fail to understand your customer – be the customer yourself. Do recognise that your product or service doesn’t have to be perfect before your launch – go for a ‘beta launch’, or is it possible to pitch and sell your product or service before it’s fully developed? Don’t delay getting early professional help and advice, e.g., legal and accountancy advice, for the sake of saving early costs – it will save you in the longer term. Do try doing a ‘Mum test’ before you pitch your business idea! If you can clearly and succinctly describe and explain your business idea to your Mum, then it’s more likely others will get it. Don’t settle for people who are ‘fit for purpose’. Aim to hire the best that you can possibly afford. Do be wary of bartering equity in return for expertise – you might regret it later on! Don’t overlook the importance of having very clear financial objectives from the outset - entrepreneurship can be a financially risky.   This article is based on 2016 interviews by Nicola Gardiner with Oxfordshire-based entrepreneurs and those who support local entrepreneurs. READ MORE

Event Connections wins Venturefest Oxford bid

Event Connections wins Venturefest Oxford bid

The event registration and delegate management specialist, Event Connections, has won the contract to provide its full range of services at the business networking event, Venturefest Oxford. Venturefest Oxford, taking place on June 29, 2016, at the King’s Centre in Oxford, will be using Event Connections to deliver pre-event and on-site delegate management for more than 800 attendees. These services include online registration using Event Connections’ in-house system, online and offline delegate handling, and on-site registration and badging. Andy Barr, director at Event Connections, commented: Venturefest Oxford is an exciting event that we are thrilled to be involved with. We are looking forward to offering our full delegate management service that will work in the background to ensure that all attendees have the best possible experience both before and during the event. Lynn Shepherd, executive chair at Venturefest Oxford, added: This year’s Venturefest Oxford programme is set to be the best ever, and we are working hard to ensure that everything runs smoothly for delegates and speakers on the day. We are very pleased with Event Connections’ bespoke system which is helping us to manage registration and badging online as well as on-site for the hundreds of people attending. Source:  standoutmagazine.co.uk READ MORE

5 funding tips for entrepreneurs

5 funding tips for entrepreneurs

The climate for starting a new business in Oxford has never been better. Nicola Gardiner Executive Search asked the county’s leading business support for entrepreneurs about how start-ups can secure funding. Have a solid proposition It seems the key to convincing those with the cheque books that you have a winning proposition is not a well drafted business plan, but that you have identified who your customers are and most importantly that you have engaged with your target market to shape and validate your proposition. Investors want to see that you “understand your customer, what their problem is and how you intend to solve it” says Matthew Arnold ( Principal, Oxford Sciences Innovation). Engage with local and global investors Investment might come via local venture capitalists, Pitchfest (or similar), or angel networks but Marcelo Bravo’s (CEO, PharmaScience Group Plc) advice is don’t just engage with local investors. Find out globally which firms/people are investing in your space, and go and talk to them – even if it is US-based firms or further afield. Get feedback if your pitch is unsuccessful An unsuccessful investment pitch might be a signal to re-evaluate your proposition, or to head in a different direction for investment – ask for feedback. “Don’t be afraid to pivot!” says Tony Hart (Network Navigator, Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP)). Focus on sales Sage advice from David Mott (Managing Partner, Oxford Capital) is not to focus on fund raising at the expense of generating sales. “Sales is the cheapest form of equity”, he says. If you can delay fund raising until your business can demonstrate real momentum in that area, there will be less need to dilute equity in exchange for investment.  First round funding may cost the business owner(s) 20-30% of ownership. Look into EIS and SEIS schemes Sue Staunton (Partner, James Cowper Kreston) encourages exploring the EIS and SEIS schemes for offering tax efficient investment opportunities for investors. READ MORE

5 funding tips for entrepreneurs

5 funding tips for entrepreneurs

The climate for starting a new business in Oxford has never been better. Nicola Gardiner Executive Search asked the county’s leading business support for entrepreneurs about how start-ups can secure funding. Have a solid proposition It seems the key to convincing those with the cheque books that you have a winning proposition is not a well drafted business plan, but that you have identified who your customers are and most importantly that you have engaged with your target market to shape and validate your proposition. Investors want to see that you “understand your customer, what their problem is and how you intend to solve it” says Matthew Arnold ( Principal, Oxford Sciences Innovation). Engage with local and global investors Investment might come via local venture capitalists, Pitchfest (or similar), or angel networks but Marcelo Bravo’s (CEO, PharmaScience Group Plc) advice is don’t just engage with local investors. Find out globally which firms/people are investing in your space, and go and talk to them – even if it is US-based firms or further afield. Get feedback if your pitch is unsuccessful An unsuccessful investment pitch might be a signal to re-evaluate your proposition, or to head in a different direction for investment – ask for feedback. “Don’t be afraid to pivot!” says Tony Hart (Network Navigator, Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP)). Focus on sales Sage advice from David Mott (Managing Partner, Oxford Capital) is not to focus on fund raising at the expense of generating sales. “Sales is the cheapest form of equity”, he says. If you can delay fund raising until your business can demonstrate real momentum in that area, there will be less need to dilute equity in exchange for investment.  First round funding may cost the business owner(s) 20-30% of ownership. Look into EIS and SEIS schemes Sue Staunton (Partner, James Cowper Kreston) encourages exploring the EIS and SEIS schemes for offering tax efficient investment opportunities for investors. READ MORE

Journey with a rising entrepreneur star

Journey with a rising entrepreneur star

An Oxford Mail article published on 14th April 2016 highlighted a fantastic session lined up for the Venturefest Oxford Annual event due to take place at the King's Centre is Osney Mead, Oxford on 29th June. Bianca Miller, an entrepreneur will give us a unique, inside view to her personal rise to stardom as we journey with her through her new business start-up, her debut on the BBC TV The Apprentice 2014, and other achievements. Don't miss this unique opportunity to meet an amazing entrepreneur - register now! For as our Executive Chair, Lynn Shepherd said: This year's programme is set to be the best ever, with a great line-up of dynamic speakers and a range of sessions designed to stimulate innovation, support entrepreneurship and broker investment Make sure you are part of the buzz! READ MORE

Addressing one of the main fears around public speaking

Addressing one of the main fears around public speaking

One of our biggest fears is being judged by our audience. Many of us suffer from the 'Imposter Syndrome' feeling that we are not good enough to command the attention of an audience and wondering why anyone would want to listen to us! To combat this very real fear it is important to earn the right to command the attention of others. So, establish your authenticity and credibility from the outset. The audience needs to know why they should listen to you, so dispel any doubts in your opening remarks, it will make you and your listeners feel confident that you deserve to be there. Make sure you know your subject inside out and feel you have something valuable to share. Become an eternal student, be a learning junkie, constantly read about and research your subject and bring your new-found knowledge to your talks. Also make sure you can quote the source of your findings; it shows you have done your homework and invested your time in making sure you deliver value. The impact of this will be: you will feel excited that you are educating your audience; you will be looking forward to sharing your new material; your audience will be engaged right from the start; they will gain valuable new knowledge and takeaways. The audience also has fears - they fear boredom, wasting their precious time, hearing nothing new, having no valuable takeaways So, allay those fears in your opening remarks and put them at ease, get them scrambling for their pens and writing notes right from the start. By engaging them immediately you will also feel engaged, more confident and more in flow!   READ MORE

Oxford Recognised at European Capital of Innovation Finals 2016

Oxford Recognised at European Capital of Innovation Finals 2016

Oxford was one of nine cities represented as finalists at the European Capital of Innovation Awards 2016, held on April 8 2016. The title of European Capital of Innovation 2016 and a prize of €950,000 was at stake for the city judged to have the best track record in supporting and promoting innovation, right across the community. At the ceremony held by the European Commission in Brussels, Oxford was the smallest city represented, and up against a shortlist consisting of many capital cities, having already been selected from a field of 36 applicant cities. The shortlist included Amsterdam; Berlin; Eindhoven; Glasgow; Milan; Paris; Turin, and Vienna. The winner was Amsterdam recognised for its outstanding track record in supporting innovation and specifically for embracing a bottom-up approach based on smart growth, start-ups, livability and digital social innovation Oxford’s bid was developed by the City Council with a team of partners from the County Council, the two universities, the Low Carbon Hub, the Student Hub, the Hospital Trust, local businesses and other community organisations. Peter Sloman, Chief Executive of Oxford City Council, said: We are delighted to have reached the finals and to have been recognised alongside such a competitive field. The fact that Oxford is in the mix with major cities like Paris and Berlin, demonstrates the strength of the bid, our local economy, and our local partnerships. We will continue to work to realise the benefits of innovation in and around Oxford, and aim to deliver on spirit of the bid, which is to make Oxford a place where anyone, regardless of background, has the opportunity to bring their ideas to life. We will work with partners and the community to build on this achievement and punch above our weight as a city. Commenting on Venturefest's involvement, Executive Chair, Lynn Shepherd said: Venturefest Oxford was delighted to be part of the bid team - Innovation lies at the heart of entrepreneurship and successful business so it was very important to ensure they were given a voice in our bid. Congratulations Oxford - we made it to a short list of much larger cities and we won’t stop now, watch out next year!. In addition to the City Council, Oxford’s iCapital 2016 bid was funded by Oxford University; Oxford Brookes University; Oxfordshire County Council; Venturefest Oxford; Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership; InOxford, and The Oxford Trust. READ MORE

European Capital of Innovation – Oxford’s video presentation

European Capital of Innovation – Oxford’s video presentation

Oxford is a finalist in the European Capital of Innovation awards 2016 and stands the chance of winning € 950 000 to scale up and expand the city's efforts in innovation. One of nine cities shortlisted, the finalist nomination recognises the world-class innovation talent in medical science, engineering, high tech, digital, low carbon, entrepreneurship and social enterprise. As the presentations says, Oxford is the place "where anyone can bring an idea to life." Watch the Oxford video presentation. READ MORE

Registration now open!

Registration now open!

Registration opens today for the county’s premier business networking event.  Now in its 18th year, Venturefest Oxford brings together entrepreneurs and innovators, with investors, support services and a host of like-minded people who want to be part of business success. The event will take place on Wednesday 29th June 2016 at the King’s Centre, Osney Mead and promises to be bigger and better than ever before.  The larger venue means there will be more networking areas,  the exhibition and Innovation Showcase will double in size, and over two dozen workshops, sessions and keynote plenaries will offer visitors valuable and interesting insights and advice. Early bird tickets cost £25* Price includes entrance to all sessions, exhibition and networking areas, refreshments throughout the day (including lunch), breakfast session, evening drinks reception and shuttle bus service from Seacourt Park & Ride and Oxford Train Station. Student entry is free of charge – valid ID will be required. Register Now! READ MORE

How fast growth companies leave their competition standing

How fast growth companies leave their competition standing

Is your company growing at the speed you wish? Let’s be honest. Most companies never achieve anything like their full potential. Is it time to make sure your business does? I was talking to a Managing Director of a company earlier today. He’s utterly fed up. His Board of Directors are pulling in different directions and making it impossible for the company to grow. Strangely very few companies or entrepreneurs ensure the business leaders make growth easy. For twenty years my company, Strategenic Ltd, has researched companies that grow at 15% or more, profitably, year after year. Very few companies achieve that. In an industry that is struggling you might find one company that is growing well. In industries that are doing alright, one of two companies will outperform the rest by a long way. These are the companies we research. They are impressive. Inspirational. I interview the MD, learn exactly what they do and why they are so successful. From that research we created The Blueprint for Growth© which ensures our clients also achieve outstanding growth year after year. I would like to bring two of the characteristics of those fast growth companies to life for you now: 1. Fast growth companies align and unite Unlike the MD I mentioned above, successful companies realise they cannot just create a product and sell it. They know that the leadership team must first define what they want the company to become. They know that the picture must be so inspiring that every leader must feel excited to be part of something so worthwhile – and commit to making it happen. Only then can they lead their staff to engage their hearts and minds. Then, together, the company will become unstoppable. We guided a small entrepreneurial creative agency in London called Nikid to do this. They were so inspired that, in three months flat, their revenue and profit more than doubled! When Steve Jobs was CEO of Apple, the leaders were so clear about what they wanted to create that their employees bubbled over with enthusiasm. Hundreds of thousands of employees aligned – as one unstoppable team. Growth rocketed year after year. They transformed the IT market, becoming the most valuable technology company in the world. 2. Fast growth companies provide unusually good value Many entrepreneurs design and sell products and services that they think are very exciting. Sadly, in customers’ eyes, few of those products or services really stand out. As a result they never achieve the full success they deserve. On the other hand, the world’s most successful companies solve their customers’ problems so effectively that they transform their lives. They enjoy such massive demand that they can charge higher prices. Slingshot SEO (now known as Relevance) chose to work only with companies they felt deserved to dominate their market. They realised their customers did not want SEO for its sake. Instead Slingshot decided to give them what they really wanted – to make them so visible they became truly successful. They hunted globally for the very best SEO experts and hired them. They created a software platform designed to ensure their customers’ success. The word spread like wildfire and Slingshot SEO grew by 3,157% in five years flat! Companies like these understand their customers’ concerns so deeply that they feel their pain when they wake up at night worrying. Then they pull out all the stops to create a solution that removes most, if not all, of their problem. No wonder they attract customers in droves. Is your business aligned? Is it set up to attract customers in droves? If not here is a short white paper to develop your thinking further. http://bit.ly/5wayskillgrowth READ MORE

Next generation marketers take a closer look at Venturefest

Next generation marketers take a closer look at Venturefest

Pictured above: Lynn Shepherd (Venturefest Executive Chair), Serena Wider and Ryan Alcock (OBU students) and Bjoern Asmussen (Senior Lecturer in marketing, OBU)   Oxford Brookes University invited Venturefest Oxford to participate in a postgraduate marketing assignment that saw two top students pitch their ideas to Executive Chair Lynn Shepherd. Lynn openly shared internal plans and reports to give students an opportunity to go inside the workings of Venturefest and apply their marketing skills to Oxfordshire’s premier networking platform for high tech entrepreneurs and innovators. They were tasked with producing a strategy to build the brand and attract more visitors to Venturefest’s flagship event, which is happening on 29th June at The King’s Centre in Osney Mead. Bjoern Asmussen (Senior Lecturer in marketing, OBU) selected two of the best assignments from the Department of Marketing Masters class. Top students Ryan Alcock and Serena Wider treated Lynn to two very engaging and innovative presentations characterised by bright ideas and dynamic insights. “I was extremely impressed by both the quality and professionalism of the presentations. Both students demonstrated a good grasp of the challenges facing Venturefest Oxford and were clearly able to apply their learning and experience to the task.” said Lynn “Undoubtedly, ideas generated by this next generation of marketers will be filtering into our marketing activities in the coming year.” READ MORE

Concern for Tech Ventures over Government grant cut-back

Concern for Tech Ventures over Government grant cut-back

Many Government grant and cash awards for new science and tech ventures have been removed. This includes those for biomedical catalyst and Smart awards for small- and medium-sized enterprises. An article published in The Oxford Times on 24th March 2016 raised some concern over this recent occurrence in funding. Marks Evans, a member of the Venturefest Management Board commented that this is “pretty strange, when you think where our future economic growth is going to come from”. Mr Evans is the Chief Executive Officer of Adaptix, a high-tech firm developing low-cost, small-scale high-resolution 3D imaging for the medical tech market and played a key role in our recent Pitchfest events which gives start-ups an opportunity to pitch to investors. He also noted that “if we want British ingenuity to boost our economy, why cut back on crucial funding?” For these and other views on the funding cuts, visit the Oxford Times website. READ MORE

Creating the big idea and realising the vision

Creating the big idea and realising the vision

Innovation in business is critical – by its very nature it means you have created something new and unique. While you may completely understand your business idea and how it works, being so close to it can cloud your vision and actually end up making it difficult to clearly explain and communicate it to other people.   But you need to get it out there, so when it comes to sharing it with the world, how can you do that? Bill Gates has been quoted countless times about his thoughts on the value of PR “If I had one dollar left I’d spend it on PR”. Gates, the man who had the vision of a PC on every desk, knew that he had to use communications to get his message out there to realise the vision.   So where should you start? Firstly you need to work on clarifying your message – what exactly is your product or service? How does it benefit the target audience you are trying to reach? Keep your wording simple and avoid jargon. It can help to think about the elevator pitch; how would you explain what you do in 30 seconds? Without a clear definition of what you do, what you offer, it can prove difficult to build any further communications activity.   People love stories, so if you can try to tell a story about your business. How did it come about? How do people use it and what does it help them to do? Talking about people or business benefits rather than specific pieces of technology or processes will make your innovation more accessible and easy to understand.   As well as defining what to say, you need to think about who you want to talk to. It’s important to think about who these people are, what they read, watch, listen to, engage with and share on social media. Remember that a business-to-business audience is a consumer audience too – so if you are trying to sell into a IT director, they are as likely to read Computer Weekly as they are the Sunday papers.   It can be useful to build a profile of the ‘person’ you are trying to reach and consider all the touch points or channels you could engage with them on. To achieve that it can help to take an integrated approach to your communications and make any kind of content that you create have multiple purposes so that it is working harder for you.  For example, share any news you have with your media contacts and then use this as the basis of a blog for your website, in your social media activity and in your newsletters.   For more information on PR visit www.cubaneight.com READ MORE

Apply to be part of the Innovation Showcase

Apply to be part of the Innovation Showcase

The showcase welcomes the most exciting business innovations from across the region - companies looking for funding, partners or new customers. If you have an exciting invention, gadget, tool or technological advancement you are willing to demonstrate at the event, we’d like to invite you to apply to join the 2016 Innovation Showcase. Applications close on 22nd April 2016 Find out more READ MORE

Protecting innovation

Protecting innovation

Did you know that intellectual property (IP) is one of the most valuable assets your business will own? It could account for over 70% of your business’ value. IP is the collective name for the group of rights that protect your intangible assets. This includes creative works, know-how and technological innovations. There are four main types of IP: Patents – which protect new inventions and innovations Trade marks – which protect your company name and logo (or your brand) Designs – which protect the visual appearance of a product Copyright - which protects written and creative works, like music, film and photographs Venturing into IP for the first time can seem daunting. Understanding which IP rights will give your business the best protection or knowing where to go for support can be difficult. Luckily, the Intellectual Property Office is on hand to help. IP for Business is a range of online support tools which offers information and guidance on IP rights. Designed to help you identify and protect your IP assets, the toolkit includes:   IP Equip – A free, interactive e-learning tool to help you identify assets which may be protected by IP rights IP Equip app – A free app available for iOS and Android devices, offering IP information at your fingertips IP Health Check – A free online tool to help businesses assess, identify and add value to their IP IP Master Class – A popular CPD accredited course on IP for business professionals, which can be completed face to face or online READ MORE

Pitchfest in the media

Pitchfest in the media

Pitchfest was in a recent Oxford Times feature. The one-day event brought together several investors and high-tech start-ups for a day of pitching and networking at Harwell Campus. Mark Evans (Chief Executive of Adaptix) was one of the presenting companies at Pitchfest. Speaking to The Oxford Times, he pointed out: “Oxfordshire has been guilty of hiding its light under a bushel, in not taking its fantastic innovations to market but that is changing. We have some of the world’s most advanced technology here, including the Diamond Synchrotron and the heritage through firms like Oxford Instruments, which started in a shed.” He added: “Pitchfest and Venturefest are part of building that vibrant economy and this is a great place to bring entrepreneurs, investors and ideas together. “Some of those pitching here have potential to become £100m-plus businesses.” See also coverage of the event by That’s Oxford TV. READ MORE

Venturefest’s 18th Anniversary

Venturefest’s 18th Anniversary

This year in 2016, we celebrate the 18th anniversary of Venturefest Oxford. Venturefest originated in 1999 from a conversation between Professor Peter Johnson (University of Oxford) and Lord Sainsbury (former Science Minister). The idea for Venturefest came about following a visit to the Moot Corp Fair in Austin, Texas by Prof Johnson’s students. The Fair included a business plan competition for the area’s high-tech businesses and provided a space for entrepreneurs and innovators to mingle with investors and service providers. [accordion open="0"] [accordion-item title="Starting out"] Venturefest Oxford began life as an annual networking event and later, in 2014, expanded its remit to become a year-round gateway to business support for high-tech entrepreneurs. The event has always provided a range of opportunities to learn, share and network with all the right people to help businesses grow. The first event took place at the University of Oxford’s St Catherine’s College in 1999. Commenting on the wide spread of participants, Paul Bradstock (former Venturefest board member) described the event as “networking the networks”. Sir Martin Wood gave the first opening Keynote Address. “I have two jobs to do here today…first to explain why Oxfordshire has become such a fertile area for the development of new high technology companies. Secondly, as an entrepreneur myself, I’d like to transmit some of the excitement and satisfaction that I’ve felt over the years as a result of being part of the rise in the profile of the high-technology sector” (extract from inaugural keynote address). [/accordion-item] [accordion-item title="Finding the way"] For many, the word ‘Venturefest’ conjures up images of fast cars, Dragon-Den style pitches, wacky inventions and life-changing high-tech products. Exhibitions and showcases have always been a key part of Venturefest events. For example, the Technology Showcase demonstrated the latest gadgets and services, allowing delegates to interact with the new technology and meet the people behind the inventions. Formula Student racing cars were showcased at the 2008 event where Oxford Brookes University students were on hand to describe the challenges they overcame to build and race a car which successfully competed against over 60 international teams. Venturefest is also about rewarding the trailblazers of innovation and entrepreneurism. The first event awarded a £10,000 to a young start-up from a business school using Global Positioning System technology to monitor performance data essential to those training for sports. There have been a variety of awards over the years. Such as the 2008 Public Choice Award for Innovation (won by WildKnowledge – producing apps for naturalists) and the 2011 Green Technology award (producing batteries for electrical cars). The prestigious Martin and Audrey Wood Enterprise Awards, renowned for celebrating innovative and tech-based companies in Oxfordshire, featured at Venturefest for several years. This year, the Enterprise awards will be available exclusively to those who have presented at Venturefest Oxford’s recent pitching events, including Pitchfest. Venturefest has also recognised the very young innovators. Fans of the ‘hire and fire’ reality hit TV shows might remember the Apprentice-style challenges held at some Venturefests. The Oxford Trust helped showcase budding scientists and entrepreneurs in 2004 when the Duke of York visited Venturefest Oxford. Knowing the realities and challenges faced by new start-ups, Venturefest has provided platforms for entrepreneurs to get support. Most recently, delegates have had access to free, tailored advice from the meet-the-expert sessions and an opportunity to meet leading business supporters at exhibition stands. For the 2016 event, we are developing a dedicated networking system, allowing delegates to book 1 to 1 meetings with experts, exhibitors and each other. Other avenues of free advice have included the Young Persons' Business Plan Clinic, and ‘speed mentoring’. The clinic was a space where young persons could go to get help with a new business concept and stand the chance of winning a prize for the best young business talent. Speed mentoring involved short meetings with experienced entrepreneurs who offered informal advice. Amidst the dynamic product displays and advice booths are the free and practical sessions that run throughout the day (historically built around the ‘tracks’ of funding, learning and innovation). There have been many fantastic keynote speeches over the years. To mention just a few: Dr Mike Grocott spoke about his research team’s expedition to conquer Mount Everest. Dr Malcolm McCulloch spoke about a spectacular zero-emissions car (the Morgan LIFECar); and Sir Digby Jones discussed the 21st century business culture. Last year, Sir Mike Brady gave an inspirational talk about lessons learnt from starting and growing successful high-tech firms. He was quoted in the Oxford Mail media as saying that Venturefest is "an invaluable organisation because it brings together a community of people with ideas that will ultimately lead to job and wealth creation". [/accordion-item] [accordion-item title="Nurturing sectoral connections"] Connecting entrepreneurs and innovators with business support has always been at the heart of Venturefest. We also aim to connect and increase engagement between universities and business. This was never more apparent than in 2000, when Oxford Brookes and the University of Oxford forged links to contribute to the running of Venturefest. While the first two events were held on campuses (University of Oxford in 1999, then Oxford Brookes University in 2000), we also convened events at Science Parks (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in 2002) and later in 2005, chose venues on land owned by Unipart. In recent years, the location of the event returned to the University of Oxford – at the Saïd Business School. Now, we’re on the move again – to the King’s Centre in Osney Mead so that we can accommodate more networking, making the whole event bigger and better to celebrate our 18th anniversary. Today, Venturefest Oxford benefits from the pooled expertise of our Executive Board members, including representatives from universities, business and government – making Venturefest Oxford a truly neutral forum in the innovation ecosystem. And we continue to grow with the support of our partners. We are sponsored by Innovate UK, The Oxford Trust, Knowledge Transfer Network, the University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, OxLEP, Science & Technology Facilities Council, UK Trade & Investment and Nominet. [/accordion-item] [accordion-item title="Spreading its wings"] Home-grown in Oxford, evidence of Venturefest’s international appeal began in 2002 when a French company, BL Concept, came to Venturefest to find funding. The company was setting up a range of hydrotherapy spas at 60 sites across Europe. Finance director Yves Robert said to Oxford Mail: "We are looking for investment and we know British companies are more dynamic when it comes to investment." Nationally, Venturefest began growing in 2003, when a similar event was set up in Yorkshire. Later, in 2014, Venturefest Oxford inspired the formation of a Venturefest Network whereby annual networking events are held across the UK. The Network has also been endorsed by the Prime Minister, David Cameron. [/accordion-item] [accordion-item title="Growing up"] In 2014, Venturefest Oxford began transitioning from being a one-day annual event to developing into a fully-fledged year-round forum of activities and opportunities, including the bi-annual Pitchfest. To facilitate this change, The Oxford Trust provided in-kind sponsorship for Venturefest’s first full-time office space (in the Oxford Centre for Innovation) as well as marketing and accounting support. Having just completed a long-standing career as Group Director of Communications at Oxford Instruments plc, Lynn Shepherd was appointed as the Executive Chair. This was an apt appointment given that not only was Oxford Instruments plc the first commercial spin out from Oxford University, but it was established in 1959 – “the year in which high tech Oxfordshire came into being”. In addition, the founders of Oxford Instruments also founded The Oxford Trust who are a core sponsor of Venturefest. Oxford Instruments was also formerly based at the 2016 location of our annual event – the King’s Centre. It was on this site that they developed “the first ever whole body superconducting MRI magnet”. [/accordion-item] [/accordion] With Pitchfest underway and plans for an 18th anniversary Venturefest Oxford annual event on 29 June 2016, we look forward to meeting and connecting entrepreneurs and innovators with business support. Oxfordshire’s innovation ecosystem is set to flourish even further. See you at the King’s Centre later this year! READ MORE

In the media: Fledgling firms entering the den

In the media: Fledgling firms entering the den

An Oxford Mail report on 5th February 2016 drew attention to the upcoming 3rd bi-annual Pitchfest event where high-tech entrepreneurs stand before a room of investors and give five-minute pitches for funding. Special mention was made of two of the 23 finalists: Combat Medical (working on a new treatment for bladder cancer) and Autorose (devising a tool for tracking driving technique and vehicle condition). The article also pointed to this year’s annual networking event on 29th June, which has now moved location from the Said Business School to the King’s Centre in Osney Mead, due to increased demand. READ MORE

Top 10 digital tips for small businesses

Top 10 digital tips for small businesses

Starting up a new business or thinking that 2016 is the year to take your business online? There are plenty of points to consider before embracing the digital world and launching your new website. Neil Dagger, Nominet’s senior product marketing manager for the UK domain family, takes you through 10 essential top tips. 1. Secure the best domain name you can for your website Securing the right domain name for your website is crucial. A memorable name on a trusted domain gives your website legitimacy and helps people find you easily. Don’t delay as domain names get snapped up fast. For useful advice when deciding on your domain name visit the advice section of the .uk domain website. 2. Use your company name on your email Sending out emails from a hotmail or gmail account doesn’t look professional and can suggest inexperience. For added credibility consider a respected domain name for your email eg: [email protected] or the new shorter .uk. Make sure your email domain matches your website domain. 3. Decide how much web hosting space you are going to need Hosting services provide a place to store the files on your website. It’s important to remember that other hosting services, like email, require additional storage so check that the space offered by your Internet service provider (ISP) will be enough, or whether you’ll need to arrange more. 4. Be clear about what your website is for Whether you want to build your brand, sell goods or services, or expand your business, establishing your website’s purpose and clarifying your customer’s needs will help you make smart decisions about branding and design 5. Make sure your website is clear and simple Simple layout and easy navigation work best online. Use a designer to create your website or use free tools available on platforms such as Wordpress and Blogger to do it yourself. Once you’ve got the finished article, simply transfer it to your domain and chosen host. 6. Use social media to drive traffic Social media can be a great way to drive traffic to your website. Choose your social channels based on what your audience use and don’t take on too many. Quality engagement on a relevant platform is more important than having lots of social media accounts. To pick up more great tips about winning at social media, read this article from Angela Munroe. 7. Make it mobile-friendly The number of mobile users is already overtaking those using desktops. Make sure your site is responsive ensuring easy navigation on smaller devices. 8. Consider legality Decide what your own policies should be e.g. how you’ll use and store the data submitted by customers. Display your policies clearly. 9. Keep it safe Install security software and be sure to download all the latest updates. Don’t leave your website vulnerable to viruses or hackers. 10. Track your online success Luckily there are plenty of free online tools, such as Google Analytics to help you measure key performance stats such as page view, bounce rate and number of visitors, etc. Get set up with a suitable tool and use the information to make improvements to your website over time. Create your own digital space with the new shorter .uk domain READ MORE

Communications tips

Communications tips

Getting noticed If you are starting a business, you will be busy raising finance, hiring people, securing contracts, etc, but it’s never too soon to think about communications. Don’t think of marketing and PR as bolt-on activities once you’ve launched your business; instead they should be integral to your business development strategy. As a start-up, your budget is unlikely to stretch to a full-blown advertising campaign or hiring a PR agency. However, there are a few simple things you can do to help build your brand reputation, attract new customers and stand out from the crowd. Consider where you want your customers or clients to see or hear about your business. Do you aspire to the front page of a national newspaper? Paid-for advertising or free editorial in regional press might be more realistic and achievable to start with. Are your products or services aimed at the general consumer, or would they be more suited to specialist trade publications? Once you’ve decided on your outlet, research individual journalists and approach them by phone, email or on social media. Think of the key messages you wish to convey to your customers or clients, through them. Pitch your story as you would pitch your investment opportunity to investors: keep information simple, concise and relevant. The same applies if you are doing a radio or TV interview. And remember, pictures tell a thousand words, so make sure you have good quality, high resolution images - or even video – of your product or service, which you are willing to share with the media for free. READ MORE

Tax Breaks for Research and Development

Tax Breaks for Research and Development

Often, the tax authorities are seen as an imposition of bureaucracy, stifling innovation and entrepreneurship. However, in the context of research and development, H M Revenue and Customs have been given the task of using Treasury cash to encourage and support innovation. The relevant law allows companies undertaking qualifying R&D activities to claim some substantial advantages in respect of certain classes of expenditure related to that R&D. When a company involved in this type of R&D submits its annual corporation tax return, it can “uplift” the deduction it receives for that expenditure, so that:- If it is a profitable, tax-paying company, it can reduce its current or future tax bill, by a total of something in excess of 45% of the eligible expenditure; and If it is not making profits, it can “sell” the losses created, recovering in excess of 30% of the eligible expenditure. Every year, at Richardsons, we claim, on behalf of our numerous innovative client companies, quite literally millions from HMRC in the form of reduced tax bills and payments of tax credit. If your company undertakes any form of investigation into innovative ways of making or doing things, or indeed simply into novel ways of providing your services, this generous tax break may be worth investigating. Please get in touch with Simon Husband or Tom Vigg or call one of us on 01844 261155.   READ MORE

Do Entrepreneurs need Empathy to be Successful?

Do Entrepreneurs need Empathy to be Successful?

The truth is many entrepreneurs have been successful without much empathy. But my contention is that any entrepreneur can be more successful if they possess a good level of empathy, especially in the 21st century where demands and expectations of people (especially employees) are changing. Profit, efficiency and growth alone are not enough in today’s world. Leaders need to be ethical, authentic, emotionally aware and relationship builders. Organisations need to be people-centred, ethical and sustainable. Years of evidenced based research on leaders by LeaderShape has shown that the first step to accessing the motivational capability of today’s followers is Empathy. It is not only a basic building block for becoming a good leader but it is also the most commonly identified development need. There are many misconceptions about the meaning of “empathy” and a general lack of understanding of how one can develop it. In short, Empathy is “Sensing others’ emotions, understanding their perspective, and taking an active interest in their concerns.” Do not confuse empathy with “sympathy” which is about sharing emotions. Empathy is not about agreeing or sharing, it is fundamentally about understanding. Ask yourself these four questions: Do you listen attentively to what people say? Do you demonstrate an awareness of how others are feeling? Do you accurately identify the underlying causes of the other person’s perspective? Do you express an understanding of the other person’s perspective If you achieve this most of the time you are on your way to becoming a great leader. Most people aren’t! However, anyone can be helped to develop these behaviours by working with an appropriate coach or taking part in the right kind of leadership development programme. Happy to tell you about my own story of how I developed empathy. Just send me an email. LeaderShape Global is an Oxfordshire based thought-leading development organisation. It works alongside clients to generate sustainable, measured organisational performance the development of leaders who lead beyond their ego to: Embed authentic, ethical behaviours into the DNA of the organisation Build strong, collaborative relationships based on emotional intelligence Create a Performance Enhancing Culture… altogether known as Transpersonal Leadership. LeaderShape differentiators include; a faculty of coach accredited senior executives able to connect strategy, behaviours and values; a set of unique diagnostic tools; and incorporating the latest findings from neuroscience research.   READ MORE

Think Global from Startup and Onwards

Think Global from Startup and Onwards

Recently I had a two hour video Skype call with HR Director of one of Africa’s largest bottling plants to discuss their leadership development needs. He was located in a town on the edge of Lake Victoria in northern Tanzania. Our partner in Tanzania is securing an order with this client right now. Ten years ago, the meeting would have had to be face-to-face and it would have taken the best part of a week in travel to accomplish that. The world has changed! The high-speed internet (although there still are black spots in Oxfordshire) enables us to think totally differently about our marketplace. Traditionally, the thinking was (nearly) always that you should establish a good business in your home market before embarking on exports. Today, you need to think globally from the start. You might well need a local market client base to test new products or services but in general you need to ask yourself where the best markets for your technology, your IP, you know-how. This is what SMEs in the Nordic countries and Benelux are doing, where up to 35% of businesses are involved in international trade (compared to 25% in the UK). A recent report Unlocking UK Productivity co-authored by Goldman Sachs, the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) and the British Business Bank (BBB) states Britain’s productivity is falling behind other economies because it is slower to turn ambitious smaller firms into exporters of innovative new products and services. This report calls for more appropriate support from the government but it also requires a change of mindset of the UK’s entrepreneurs. Contact OIBC if you are interested talking with someone about your international business ambitions What does the OIBC do? The OIBC is a forum and community that helps businesses in Oxfordshire to operate effectively in international markets - import, export and investment. The OIBC provides expertise and connections to help businesses play their part in redressing the international balance of trade and increasing prosperity throughout the county. Who is it for? Are you trying to export, possibly doing a bit already, but are finding it hard to wade through the legislative, financial and practical minefields? Are you already trading internationally and want to expand into more markets? Or you might represent an organisation that can help other businesses to trade internationally through links with private and public institutions and networks. If you answered yes to any of the questions above then you'll benefit from being involved with OIBC. READ MORE

Sharing the load

Sharing the load

Risk/reward v ownership Entrepreneurs are often as protective about their embryonic businesses as they are with their own babies! It can be hard to let go. But whilst all start-ups need an idea/innovation to begin, their ultimate success is down to not one individual but a successful team. Hiring great people is just as important as raising finance, getting IP/patents, securing contracts, etc. The challenge is persuading great people who are probably very happy in their current role and well paid, to take the risk and join your start-up. There are many factors to take into account when looking at offering incoming executives equity/options. However, there are some common bands to work within. Most NED’s will expect between 1-3% equity. Executive Board Directors will be looking for 2-8%. The higher end of these bands will often be offered in return for less cash, and the lower end in return for market rate salaries. The amount of equity offered needs to compensate for someone joining who might be giving up a significant bonus element, and/or valuable benefits package. It also needs to reward the individual for the significant ‘blood, sweat, and toil’ element needed to grow a successful start-up business. The key point is that your start-up business, will only be as good as its people. READ MORE

Needles in Haystacks

Needles in Haystacks

How to attract the people you need? Most founders of start-ups work on the basis that they will find the people they need within their own network. That route isn’t always successful, beneficial for both parties, or even best financially in the longer term. Whilst I am certainly an advocate of having a great network to call upon, sometimes someone you don’t already know is the better hire. Start-ups with a small team of people and maybe not even a website or office, often wonder how they will ever attract a potential director?! I like to use the ‘marmite’ analogy – this scenario either attracts or repels potential candidates. That being said, someone who is happy in their current role and well remunerated, will want to explore and mitigate the risks involved with joining a fledging business. Employers will need to be even more open and transparent with information, and there has to be a very strong personal connection. Candidates who are excited about joining a new business might be prepared to consider reducing their current base salary potential, but will be looking for an upside in equity and/or guaranteed bonus. It may be that to secure your preferred candidate however, you will have to offer a market rate base salary, or even slightly higher. If you want a genuine ‘partner’ in your business then accepting that he/she needs to have ‘skin in the game’, will pay off. As the saying goes, ‘a business is only as good as the people within it’. When adding to your team, recruit the best you can get, and that investment will be returned many times over. READ MORE

Horses for Courses

Horses for Courses

Will the person I hire now, be futureproof? If you are a start-up or young business, and thinking about hiring into your management team, this is a question clients often ask? The answer of course, is probably not! To use the Venturefest analogy of start-up development being like the human journey; birth, childhood, adolescence, adult – people tend to gravitate towards the stage that they are most attracted to and/or suited to. I often describe start-ups to candidates as being rather like marmite! The entrepreneurial and fluid environment excites some, and frightens others. There may be people who find themselves involved with a start-up right from the beginning, and manage to grow, change and develop with that business. However there equally might be some who after the initial excitement of raising finance, building a team, forging new markets etc, are less motivated in the next stages. Crucially there will also be a change in emphasis in the skills that you need as your business grows and develops. For example you might need a Sales Director with only UK market experience in the short term, and then a few years down the line, need someone who has experience developing the US market. The most important thing is always to recruit for the now, and not try to guess (too much!) what future skills and experience you might need.  Make sure the person you hire, has the critical skills and experience you need, and crucially blends well with the personalities you already have on board. READ MORE

Investment tips for startups: Laboratory News article

Investment tips for startups: Laboratory News article

A new article published by Laboratory News gives science start-ups some investment tips... READ MORE

 

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