Views sought on UK digital strategy

Views sought on UK digital strategy

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey has invited firms and other stakeholders to help shape the UK’s digital strategy for the next five years. The strategy will map out the next steps in the UK’s digital revolution. Ideas and suggestions are invited relating to how the UK’s digital strategy could unlock digital growth, for example by ensuring that firms in all sectors are supported to exploit digital technologies, and how technology could further streamline interactions with Government. Responses must be submitted to digitalstrategy@culture.gov.uk by 19th January 2016.

For further information, go to:

Read more

Campaign to help firms trade online

Campaign to help firms trade online

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has launched a new campaign, Do More Online, which is intended to help sole traders and micro-firms increase their online presence. Key measures include making £2 million available to 22 projects through Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and publishing specific resources for small firms. Projects funded under the campaign include the development of a digital TV channel in Manchester to provide business advice. According to Rachel Neaman, CEO of digital skills charity Go ON UK, “31% of small businesses in the UK lack basic digital skills, making them less competitive than many of their peers.”

Read more

Innovation voucher eligibility extended

Innovation voucher eligibility extended

Following the extension of eligibility for the Innovation Voucher scheme by Innovate UK, small and medium-sized firms, including new business start ups, will be eligible to apply for funding for consultancy support from 10th November 2014. Innovation vouchers provide up to £5,000 towards the cost of specialist advice to encourage business growth, and previously were only open to firms in specific technology sectors. The vouchers are now available to any small firm that needs specialist support to meet a business challenge, as long as the firm has not previously received support from their chosen specialist adviser. The type of support that can be funded includes advice about making the most of intellectual property, support to develop innovative ideas, and help to learn about using design in business.

Read more

Firms urged to protect computers from major cyber attack

Firms urged to protect computers from major cyber attack

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has issued a warning to individuals and small businesses to ensure their computers are protected against two powerful forms of malware known as Gameover Zeus and CryptoLocker, which are already thought to have infected more than 15,500 computers. Joint intervention by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and agencies in other countries has created a two-week window of opportunity for firms to take steps to ensure they do not lose money or valuable data. Tools and guidance relating to the malware and what action should take are available from the NCA website.

Read more

Cost of cyber security breaches almost doubles

Cost of cyber security breaches almost doubles

The number of IT security breaches affecting both small and large UK firms has decreased, but the cost and impact of individual breaches has risen significantly, according to The Information Security Breaches Survey 2014.

The survey, commissioned by the Department for Business and carried out by PwC, revealed that 60% of small firms reported a breach in 2013, down from 64% in 2012. However, the average cost of the worst breach faced by small firms has almost doubled in the last year, costing an average of between £65,000 and £115,000 in 2013, up from between £35,000 and £65,000 in 2012.

Read more

Consultation on modernising cheque payments launched

Consultation on modernising cheque payments launched

The Government has launched a consultation on proposals to use ‘cheque imaging’ in the UK, which allows banks to accept certified digital images of cheques, as well as traditional paper cheques. According to HM Treasury, if adopted, this payment method would reduce the time it takes for a cheque to clear to as little as two days, increase consumer convenience and broaden payment options.

The consultation closes on 7th April 2014.

Read more

Cyber security campaign launched by the Government

Cyber security campaign launched by the Government

A new campaign to encourage business owners and consumers to protect themselves while buying or banking online has been launched by the Home Office. The Cyber Streetwise campaign includes the launch of a new website featuring a range of interactive resources providing advice for business owners about protecting against identity fraud and cyber crime.

According to the National Cyber Security Consumer Tracker, only four in ten people always install security software on new computers and less than a quarter download security updates for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. In addition, less than a third of people use complex passwords to protect online accounts and over half do not check whether websites are secure before buying goods online.

Read more

Website publishers could be liable for defamatory reader comments

Website publishers could be liable for defamatory reader comments

A new ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has prompted warnings that website operators could be held liable for defamatory comments posted by their readers. The ECHR agreed with the decision of a court in Estonia to hold an online news publisher responsible for disparaging comments made about the owner of a shipping company featured in an article on the site. The court ruled that the publisher could have predicted the nature of the comments the article was likely to attract and taken steps to prevent them being made public.

Under the UK’s Defamation Act, which came into force earlier this year, website publishers could be held liable for reader comments, but new regulations setting out their responsibilities in full are yet to be finalised.

 

Read more

High-street stores set to fall by 22%

High-street stores set to fall by 22%

The number of high-street stores in the UK could fall by a further 22%, according to a new report by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR). The report forecasts that the total number of stores could fall from 281,930 to 220,000 by 2018, with job losses estimated at around 316,000. The share of sales that are made online is set to rise by 9% to reach 21.5% over this period, while the proportion of sales on the high street is likely to fall by 40%. Many more stores and chains could go into administration or be forced to downsize operations dramatically.

Read more

Make the Most of the Technology Strategy Board 2013-14

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) has recently published its goals and budget for the forthcoming year and experts at Birmingham Science City have kindly read the full report and summarised the points that will be most useful for the SME sector.

The full budget put forward by the TSB for the year is £440 million, and they are looking at SMEs as the main beneficiaries of this as they expect SMEs to be the biggest drivers of innovation.

There are a number of initiatives that the TSB will be driving, including Innovation Vouchers, Smart Awards, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and Small Business Research Initiative Grants.

The TSB hope that these initiatives will allow SMEs to continue to drive the commercialisation of innovation which they see as vital to restoring the UK’s economy.

For the full article please click here.