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About Cobweb Information

Cobweb is a leading publisher of guides, factsheets and reports covering the facts, risks, opportunities and practical trading issues faced by business start ups and business owners in over 600 small business trades, professions and sectors. Their services are mainly accessed via subscription by business advisers, information professionals, enterprise support agencies, banks and business funders

New funding for innovation

New funding for innovation

Innovate UK has launched a new fund for small and medium-sized firms to develop innovative solutions to challenges in health and life sciences. To compete for a share of the £15 million fund, projects must improve the sustainability of agriculture and food production, support advanced therapies, or develop bioscience techniques to improve healthcare or food production in the future. Projects must last for no more than 36 months and have total eligible costs of between £50,000 and £2 million. The deadline for applications is 12 April 2017.

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‘Smart’ buildings not protected against cyberattacks

'Smart' buildings not protected against cyberattacks

A survey of facilities managers and similar personnel carried out by the Electrical Contractors’ Association and Scottish trade body SELECT has highlighted the security risks of ‘smart’ commercial buildings, meaning buildings that feature connected technology such as CCTV, lighting and air-conditioning systems controlled remotely over the internet. Of the 229 survey respondents, 39% had taken no steps to protect connected technology installations from cyberattack. In addition, 49% of respondents identified the risk of being hacked as a barrier to installing connected technology.

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Funding for early-stage design projects

Funding for early-stage design projects

Innovate UK has launched a new fund for small and medium-sized firms to develop early-stage design projects. To compete for a share of the £1 million fund, projects must use design-led methods to research customer behaviour, with a view to developing innovative ideas for new products and services that meet their customers’ needs. Projects must last no more than nine months and have total eligible costs of up to £100,000. The deadline for applications is 22 February 2017.

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230,000 cyberattacks on small firms in 2016

230,000 cyberattacks on small firms in 2016

Almost 230,000 cyberattacks on small and medium-sized firms took place in 2016, according to a report by IT services provider Beaming. The report has revealed that two thirds of cyberattacks targeted connected devices, such as building control and surveillance systems. A third of attacks targeted company databases. The report has also indicated that cyberattacks on ‘internet of things’ (IoT) devices had increased significantly, with attacks on IoT systems accounting for 90% of all cyberattacks in Q4 2016.

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Help for small charities to win contracts

Help for small charities to win contracts

Measures aimed at helping more small charities to win contracts have been announced by Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society. The range of measures proposed includes the development of a public service incubator to assist small charities and commissioners to work together to establish and overcome the barriers that prevent smaller charities being commissioned to deliver public services. A commissioning kitemark to identify best practice will also be developed, and a new voluntary, community and social enterprise Crown Representative will be appointed.

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CIEH to stop awarding food safety qualifications

CIEH to stop awarding food safety qualifications

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has announced it has surrendered its recognition as a regulated awarding organisation, meaning it will no longer be an awarding body for existing food safety training courses. All of the 38 regulated food safety qualifications the CIEH currently delivers will be withdrawn with end dates phased throughout 2017. The CIEH has also announced that it is developing a range of new vocational qualifications, with the first courses available from spring 2017.

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Innovate UK announces new funding competition

Innovate UK announces new funding competition

A competition for a share of £15 million of funding has been announced by Innovate UK, which is seeking to support innovative, business-led proposals from any engineering, technology or industrial sector. Projects must be transformational and have a clear commercial effect, and those which result in access to new markets or sustainable growth in productivity will be prioritised. The competition will be open until 1 February 2017, and will fund up to 70% of eligible project costs, ranging from £25,000 to £1 million.

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Slower economic growth expected

Slower economic growth expected

Cities and regions across the UK will experience slower economic growth between 2017 and 2019, in comparison with the previous three years, according to EY’s UK region and city economic forecast. The forecast has revealed that average gross value added (GVA) across the UK is expected to grow by 1.5% over the next three years. The north east of England (0.7%), Scotland (1%) and Wales (1%) are expected to record the slowest levels of economic growth. London and the south east are expected to be the fastest growing regions, with growth of 1.9% per year to 2019.

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Average firm only has enough funds for 3 months

Average firm only has enough funds for 3 months

A survey of small firms in the UK by AXA has found that if faced with economic uncertainty or a crisis such as the illness of the proprietor, the average firm only has enough capital to keep going for three months while 10% of firms have less than a month’s funds in hand. According to the study, 44% of UK firms would close if faced with an unexpected crisis while 31% would keep going, but only with family help, and just 28% could afford to call in professional assistance. When seeking finance, 25% of respondents would ask family and friends for a loan first, 30% would use their personal credit card and only 22% would apply to a bank for funding.

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Small business owners reluctant to invest

Small business owners reluctant to invest

More than a quarter (27%) of small and medium-sized business owners do not expect to invest in their firm over the next 12 months, according to research by Hitachi Capital. The research has also revealed that small business owners are reluctant to access external finance to fund investment. More than half (57%) of small firms have not sought external funding in the past 12 months, while 41% have used existing overdraft facilities to fund investment.

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