Carbon Trust offers SMEs fully funded energy audits to help reduce energy spend

The Carbon Trust Green Business Fund is the energy efficiency support service for small and medium-sized businesses in England, Wales and Scotland. It provides fully funded support through energy assessments, implementation advice and equipment procurement support to help companies achieve a substantial energy and cost savings for their business. Since the programme started in 2016, we have helped hundreds of businesses reduce their energy spend and become more energy efficient.

Energy opportunity assessments are an excellent way for businesses to identify cost saving opportunities and develop a business case for the purchase of more efficient equipment. These consultations take place either remotely or on-site, depending on the size of your business. This service is fully funded by the Green Business Fund and is available to qualifying SMEs who meet the criteria.

Adrian Young of Young Calibration Ltd, a growing SME, said “The Carbon Trust provided us with a thorough, excellent energy assessment and workable solutions for immediate and longer-term objectives for reducing our energy consumption.”

After completing an initial energy assessment businesses may wish to apply for implementation advice and equipment procurement support to help find reputable suppliers who will install appropriately specified equipment for their business needs.  Designed to support businesses with a specific energy saving project in mind (e.g. lighting), your organisation can receive up to 5 days of support from a Carbon Trust consultant – at no cost to yourselves.  This is available for companies with up to 1,000 employees in England, Scotland or Wales.

As part of the wider Green Business Fund programme, we also run a series of workshops around the country aimed at businesses with less than 50 employees. These workshops are typically two hours long and provide a technical overview of best practices for energy efficiency, focusing on major areas of energy consumption, such as heating, lighting, and insulation. Businesses are encouraged to get in touch to request a workshop in their local area.

Free technical webinars are put on several times a month and are delivered by one of the Carbon Trust’s energy experts. These hour long sessions are an easy way to get advice about energy consumption in specific areas of business. Companies can also download our series of free and impartial energy efficiency guides for advice on reducing their carbon footprint, energy efficient technology, renewable energy technologies, and other sector-based advice.

To discuss how your business could benefit from the support on offer, or if you have any questions about the Green Business Fund please email us on greenbusiness@carbontrust.com or call us on 020 3944 0739 to speak to one of our advisors.

DIT Seeks UK Design Businesses for December Hong Kong Fair

The UK Department of Trade announced its involvement in Business of Design Week (BODW) in Hong Kong – Asia’s leading annual event on design, innovation and brands. The weeklong event held in December 2019 will consist of a conference, an exhibition (DesignInspire), satellite and pop-up events that attract leaders of the design world, business professionals, property developers, academia, and construction, retail and heritage organisations.

“As BODW’s Partner Country for 2019, the UK will showcase the best of British design and demonstrate our leadership in creative thinking and design management,” DIT said.

“We are looking for exceptional UK designers, design companies and educational institutions to be part of this showcase. Further details will be announced, but you can register interest here.

Shopify Releases Report on E-Commerce

Entitled ‘What Is the Future of Ecommerce? 10 Insights on the Evolution of an Industry’, the report says “What the data shows — and what the leaders we spoke to from brands at the forefront said — isn’t that retail is failing nor that success is tied to innovation for innovation’s sake. Instead, it points to the now unignorable centre of commerce: customer choice.”

It opens with perhaps its most significant statement: “1. Ecommerce v Retail: The Dichotomy Ends. For all its enduring hype — physical versus digital, offline versus on — the old war is over. In fact, it’s always been a lie. Choice, not location, is commerce’s greatest opportunity and its most-looming threat.”

Amazon US Retail Bid Still on the Cards?

Amazon tracking site TJI Research says that the company could be planning to develop a new chain of physical grocery stores in the United States following the hiring of discount supermarket veteran Patrick Waldron as its new Head of Real Estate.

The website said: “Waldron joined Amazon in September according to his LinkedIn profile, though Amazon has not officially announced his hiring that we have seen. Previously, Waldron was Vice President of Real Estate and Business Development at Save-A-Lot Food Stores, a discount grocery store chain with over 1,300 locations in the United States…

“Prior to Save-A-Lot, Waldron was Vice President of Real Estate at discount supermarket chain Lidl (US), where he worked for several years, moving to Save-A-Lot shortly after Lidl opened its first US stores. Today, Lidl operates about 65 stores in the US, also mainly in the eastern states (and thousands more in Europe).”

Last week, Esther Fung and Heather Haddon reported in the Wall Street Journal that Amazon is planning to open “dozens of grocery stores in several major U.S. cities” beyond the shops it already owns through its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017.

Microsoft to Sell Windows 7 Security Support from April 1

Microsoft announced that it will start selling Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) from April 1. The company said: “They will be sold on a per-device basis for eligible customers and the price will increase each year.” The move is part of the software giant’s long term move to migrate all customers to Window 10 and Office 365 “as they provide the most productive, secure, and cost-effective experience for users and IT departments.”

Windows 7’s support ends on January 14, 2020, but ESU will provide security fixes for uncovered or reported vulnerabilities in the operating system beyond that point. For example, the announcement stated that ‘Office 365 ProPlus will be supported on devices with active Windows 7 Extended Security Updates through January 2023. This means that customers who purchase the Windows 7 Extended Security Updates will be able to continue to run Office 365 ProPlus.” The company said it would also release a new version of Windows 10 in the month.

In other news, Microsoft has enabled its Android Excel app to add data directly from a photograph. The app can take a picture of a printed data table on your Android device and automatically convert the picture into a fully editable table in Excel. This new image recognition functionality eliminates the need for you to manually enter hardcopy data. This capability is starting to roll out for the Excel Android app with iOS support coming soon.

Facebook’s Workplace App Targets Slack and Microsoft Teams

Facebook’s Workplace app reached 2 million paid users as it targets SMEs, Forbes has reported. Gene Marks writes that according to data just released by the company, Workplace has since 2016 been deployed by 150 companies with more than 10,000 users, and organizations such as Nestlé, Starbucks and Walmart have rolled it out to more 100,000 workers.

Workplace is a corporate version of its consumer social network—a way to drive employee engagement, communication and collaboration.

Marks says “Now that the application has matured, Facebook is turning towards the giant small business market, which is mostly dominated by collaboration apps Slack and Microsoft Teams. But there’s certainly room to grow. The company plans to add reseller and other consulting partners (if your business in interested you can sign up here), develop a more robust mobile version and potentially change its marketing approach to appeal to this broader audience.”

Commercial Insurer Re-boots UK SME Cyber Offering

Major commercial insurer QBE has launched a new offering into the UK and European SME market as part of a shake-up of its cyber-insurance products to reflect the evolving threat. QBE Business Insurance has been described as an “innovative e-trade product” designed to support SMEs as the cyberattack threats expands.

The firm pointed out that over half of the UK’s small and medium-sized firms have faced at least one cyber breach in the last 12 months – and now QBE Cybercrime has been launched on Acturis to help tackle that threat.

It includes cyber cover, crime cover and business interruption cover within one policy; cover for social engineering fraud to provide reassurances for the increasing risk of impersonation fraud; and 24hr specialist data breach support to get businesses back up and running.

“The SME sector is the backbone of the UK economy,” said Dave Greaves, head of SME at QBE. “At a time when businesses are facing an increasingly greater threat from cyber, exacerbated by the implementation of the GDPR, it is important that SMEs have insurance cover in place that is tailored to fit their needs and is straightforward for brokers to purchase on their behalf.”

For an in-depth resource on the cyber-threat in your particular industry, download the Verizon 2018 Data Breach Investigation Report.

Two-Thirds of UK Business Still Unprepared for MTD

KPMG UK released statistics last month showing that many businesses are not prepared for the April Making Tax Digital (MTD) VAT deadline. “Making Tax Digital is a key part of the government’s plans to make it easier and more effective for individuals and businesses to get their tax right and keep on top of their affairs,” said the report. But while 64% of the 1,000 UK businesses who took part in their survey agreed that MTD is a good idea they said more support was needed.

The regulation, which applies to all VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold, is part of the government’s ambition to become one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations. It will make it easier for individuals and businesses to get their tax right first time, helping minimise errors.

A report published in January by a financial software vendor backs up these claims. Jon Wrennall, Chief Technology Officer at Advanced, said “Just 57% of organisations in the UK say they will be ready for Making Tax Digital which comes into force from 1st April, according to our latest Trends Survey Report

“The government is right to implement initiatives that mean organisations need to become more digital but our research suggests that not enough support is being given to help them prepare. However, this responsibility doesn’t fall to the government alone. Suppliers approved by HMRC to support Making Tax Digital need to offer ongoing support too, as well as provide software that is accessible and user-friendly – otherwise businesses will continue to hold back or make errors.”

From 1 April 2019, most VAT-registered businesses above the £85,000 threshold will have to keep digital records going forward, as well as submit their VAT returns using compatible software.

The fresh new business event at the NEC

There is a new event in town, it’s taking over from SME Live and is on a mission to become the most important business event in the UK. It’s happening in Birmingham, at the NEC in October 23rd- 24th 2019.

Designed to inform, inspire, engage and connect business owners from the Midlands to expert exhibitors and speakers that can get them firing on all cylinders and provide critical advice, products and services to help them deliver growth.

The Midlands is consistently the fastest growing region outside of London but lacks a major UK business event. SME Live has laid the foundations and now following stakeholder feedback from visitors, exhibitors, government, industry associations and business leaders the proposition is evolving into the Festival of Enterprise.

The Festival of Enterprise takes a different approach to SME Live so expect to see more big-name business leaders, more marketing masters and more sources of funding join hundreds of innovative exhibitors showcasing solutions with one goal in mind – business growth.

Mix in experiential features to ramp up the fun factor and high impact networking the Festival will be unlike anything seen before.

At the helm of the Festival of Enterprise is Event Director Tansy Stevens, an exhibition industry award winner, who joins after a 15-year career as Sales and Sponsorship Director on global super shows the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and BETT in London (two shows with 150,000 visitors between them).

Tansy says ‘I’m very excited to head up the new Festival of Enterprise having had the benefit of working with thousands of exhibitors to maximise their ROI and I’m looking forward to building on the already excellent exhibitor base to showcase more innovative solutions to the visitors’

James Ashwood steps into a new role as Director of Marketing and heads up the 2019 operations to curate the content that motivates visitors and drive the communications that delivers them to the event.

Commenting, James says ‘We launched SME2017 and SME Live at the NEC because there is a clear need to create a major UK business event based in Birmingham rather than London.

With HS2 and the Commonwealth Games arriving we are aligning the Festival of Enterprise event to reach its potential by 2022 and become the most important business event in the whole of the UK with benefits that go beyond the region.

We have taken 2 years of learning and thousands of datapoints from participants to evolve the event format to the next level and the Festival of Enterprise will be unlike anything seen at the NEC or anywhere before. My new role will enable me to focus 100% on the needs of the visitors and packing out the show floor’.

Contact Tansy Stevens for exhibitor opportunities at tansy@festivalofenterprise.co.uk

The Festival of Enterprise will help close the digital gap

Digital skills are essential to small business growth and the Festival of Enterprise will build on an area of great success at SME Live, where the most popular keynote sessions were delivered by the titans of digital including Google, Facebook and AWS.

Recent research from Lloyds Bank Business and Charity Index shows significant opportunity for improvement with 51% of the regions small and medium businesses lacking basic skills.

Key areas for improvement include trading online digitally, where the region is behind the curve both in domestic and international sales.

The Festival of Enterprise Marketing Masters Arena will help Midlands business owners sharpen up digital marketing skills and win more customers regionally, nationally and internationally.

Commenting, Festival of Enterprise Director of Marketing James Ashwood says ‘It’s great to read that Lloyds are putting their shoulder behind providing free access to training over the next 12 months to help close the digital skills gap and we intend to offer them the space at the of the Festival of Enterprise at the NEC to host one of these training events, possibly their largest one of the year’.

Read the story on the GBCC.

Contact James at the Festival of Enterprise at James@festivalofenterprise.co.uk.

NEC goes from strength to strength

The home of the Festival of Enterprise, the NEC is going from strength to strength having been acquired by Blackstone, an organisation with deep ties to the exhibition industry.

Having seen a fresh new external and internal look with more digital features throughout, the leading UK exhibition venue has succeeding in creating a modern environment in which to do business.

As an exhibition organiser; location, accessibility and venue facilities are key factors because everything we do is for the visitors.

Commenting, James Ashwood, Director of Marketing says ‘Once again our decision to locate the Midlands keystone business event at the NEC keeps on paying back. As a venue partner, the NEC is exceptional because of its commitment to creating the best possible visitor experience. As we grow the Festival of Enterprise there are also additional great locations on campus for awards ceremonies, parties and innovative spaces to host 21st century networking opportunities.’

Sign up for updates on the Festival of Enterprise.

Contact James at the Festival of Enterprise at James@festivalofenterprise.co.uk

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