August 2013

New sheriff in Crowdfunding town: Financial Conduct Authority announces plans to reign in unscrupulous activity

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced that it intends to focus its attention on the new player in the funding game. Crowdfunding has risen to popularity over the last few years, with companies like Crowdcube dealing in equity, while others like Kickstarter are more project-based and offer rewards in return for investment. Plenty more are jumping on the bandwagon, and it seems as though the FCA is only just waking up to the reality of its impact on the investment world and the economy in general. 

The main criticism historically lodged against the industry is the lack of protection for un-sophisticated investors, as the small size of the amounts typically invested opens up propositions to the average person with a savings pot. It is likely that the relative financial risk is higher for people such as this, than for high net worth individuals. It is this issue in particular that the FCA will be looking into, and may well propose to regulate the whole sector.

Latest Trend for Businesses: Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Have you driven an electric vehicle (EV) yet? More and more people are switching over to the funky Renault Twizy, the classic Nissan Leaf, or the flashy Tesla Roadster. Businesses, meanwhile, are jumping into the game by providing EV charging stations so you can recharge your car while you shop, enjoy the cinema or spend an afternoon at the pub.

It wasn’t until recently that EV charging stations were even an option. Early-model electric vehicles had longer charge times, practically requiring all charging to be done overnight. However, the new vehicles have greatly-reduced charge times, meaning vehicles can now be charged in 30 minutes – just enough time to visit the bank, get a haircut or get your shopping done.

Why are businesses so eager to embrace EV charging stations? Simple: they want your business. Electric vehicles are here to stay, and supermarket owners, restaurateurs and other savvy businesspeople know that if you have the choice between a location that charges your car and a location that doesn’t, you’ll pick the one with the EV station. Even the London Underground has gotten into the game, offering EV charging stations at 15 of its car parks. The United States is following suit, establishing EV charge stations in states like California and Rhode Island. It has yet to fully develop the UK’s infrastructure, however. 

Meanwhile, charging your car at an EV charging station means you save money at home. Energy bills are high on everyone’s minds right now, with both UK and US companies doing their best to provide low-cost alternatives for consumers. According to The Energy Shop, “the UK energy market is one of the most advanced deregulated markets,” with our neighbors across the pond following suit and offering deregulated options similar to those offered at in the US. What’s the key takeaway here? Consumers want options, and they also want incentives for buying electric vehicles. With energy companies and businesses coming together to provide EV charging stations, everybody wins.

If you need more reasons to purchase an electric vehicle, consider these: you receive 25% off the cost of your car courtesy of the Plug-In Grant, and depending on your location may be eligible to skip Vehicle Excise Duty and other road tax payments. You also have the benefit of knowing you’re doing your part towards emissions control, and you’re helping to make the electric vehicle a part of Britain’s landscape.

Once you have your car, use the Charge Your Car website or smartphone app to find an EV charge station near you. Charge Your Car has catalogued every EV charge point in the UK, and provides maps showing you which charge stations are near by, as well as whether or not they are currently being used by other cars. Then join the Source London network and pay an annual fee of £10 per vehicle to use any networked EV charge stations for no cost.

With all these benefits, it’s clear why businesses and and government have agreed that electric cars are the way of the future. Once you start seeing stylish electric vehicles busily recharging at EV charging stations outside your favorite supermarket or shopping center, you’ll likely start looking for a new electric vehicle of your own.

This is a guest article.

Government announces £93.2m funding package for life sciences and healthcare

Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, has revealed the latest support package for UK innovation. 

The third round of the Biomedical Catalyst award programme accounts for £25.9m of the total, distributed between 29 companies and 5 universities. The award has so far benefitted a wide range of research projects, companies and clinical trials in the life science sector, and is one of the most generous grants on offer from the government at the moment. Applications can be made through the Technology Strategy Board and the Medical Research Council.

In a further nod to the bioscience industry, a new manufacturing facility is to be constructed in Darlington, a commitment of £38m. The National Biologics Manufacturing Centre will be the national hub for the manufacture of medicines such as antibodies and vaccines.

The remainder of the cash is allocated to a range of companies and collaborative projects, including research into diagnostic testing for tuberculosis.