Tag Archives: innovation

£750k funding boost for OSY Group’s technology which extends shelf-life of food produce

A company whose flagship technology increases the shelf-life of food produce and reduces waste has secured £750,000 from investors to support its rollout across the UK and internationally.

The funding boost for OSY Group will accelerate its commercialisation of Xtend, an antimicrobial packaging coating which enables a range of food types, including fruit and vegetables, to stay fresh in their packaging for longer.

It will also enable OSY Group to expand its team, who are based at the Manchester International Office Centre near Manchester Airport.

Marc Braterman, chief executive of OSY Group, said: “Currently 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted or lost each year globally, and between eight and 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions result directly from food waste.

“We aspire to lead the charge in global food waste reduction through our innovative technology, as well as helping to drive down greenhouse gas emissions and food poverty, supporting grocers as they strive to achieve their sustainability targets, and enabling food producers to tap into more export markets.

“This latest funding round is a major milestone as it will enable us to accelerate the commercialisation of Xtend in the UK and internationally, while also focusing on growing our team. We are looking to create a number of roles in the coming months in line with our strategy.”

Xtend is a water-based antimicrobial coating for packaging surfaces. It leaves microscopic pins on the packaging surfaces that puncture and kill microbes and slow the natural spoiling process that affects the fresh produce within.

It has undergone extensive testing at independent laboratories, universities and other facilities, which has proven the technology to be food safe and compliant with the Food Contact Materials regulations for fresh produce, said Marc.

Testing has shown that Xtend extends shelf-life by multiple days on various forms of packaging, he added.

It is suitable for lidding film, plastic trays, flow wrap, fibre and board, flexible film paper, outer packaging and board and film combined for food-to-go, such as sandwiches.

Trials of Xtend have also been conducted with a major UK grocer as well as leading soft fruit producers and large European packaging companies.

Marc said: “These trials, in addition to the extensive testing carried out at facilities in the UK, have demonstrated that Xtend maintains freshness for longer and therefore significantly contributes to reducing food waste.

“It can be easily integrated into existing packaging production, and has a range of other applications beyond food produce due to its direct coating qualities.”

The latest investment, from three new individuals and one existing backer, follows a £250,000 equity fundraising last year and an award from Innovate UK through its ‘Better Food for All’ competition to support companies forging innovative ways to tackle nutrition challenges. Innovate UK’s funding is supporting OSY’s ongoing research and development.

OSY is one of only a small number of companies selected to be part of a global innovation business programme run by Innovate UK in Canada and Australia.

Among the advisers to OSY are Dr Malcolm Driffield and Dr Rhodri Evans, of scientific, engineering and regulatory consultancy Exponent International.

Pioneering entrepreneur launches The Clever Carbon Company to help protect the planet

A pioneering entrepreneur has launched a series of ventures aimed at helping protect the planet by improving the sustainable practices of businesses and individuals.

David Oates, 45, has established The Clever Carbon Company, based in Worsley, Greater Manchester, with a mission to bring about change by rethinking the way that products are designed, made, used and decommissioned at their end of life.

He already runs a consultancy business called Mouthful, focused on advising the hospitality sector on strategy and growth opportunities. He is also a sessional lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University.

Previously, he had a varied career including roles as a manager in the strategy team at professional services giant KPMG and later as head of strategy at LateRooms.

He has a master’s degree in materials science from the University of Sheffield, an MBA from Leeds University Business School, and is a fellow of the Strategic Planning Society.

David has received support for The Clever Carbon Company from the GC Business Growth Hub, and funding from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and British Business Bank.

He has also been collaborating with the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Salford on research and development projects linked to aspects such as materials science, rapid prototyping, innovation and digital enablement.

Through a blend of product and service design and using innovative technologies, The Clever Carbon Company explores and identifies solutions in industries such as consumer products and clothing, which are currently the largest contributors to landfill.

The first priority area for The Clever Carbon Company is tackling the impact of single-use materials in the personal care industry.

This has led to NeuTrail, a novel refillable dispenser for personal care products such as shampoo or handwash. Using circular design, it is made from a single, recycled material, which makes the product easier to recycle repeatedly, and it has a simple, gravity-fed design. which makes it easier to use, even for people with mobility issues.

NeuTrail is being manufactured with short UK-based supply chains via 3D-print technology, meaning each dispenser can be personalised. The range has already gained listings in a number of catalogues offering sustainable consumer products.

David’s second priority area is clothing and textiles. The Clever Carbon Company is developing solutions for high-demand, non-discretionary clothing, such as uniforms and workwear, through a venture named Cottonopoly.

Partnering with UK manufacturers, Cottonopoly supplies cotton or polycotton garments, initially school cardigans and sweaters.

Parents pay a deposit on each garment, which is then refunded when the item is returned after use. Returns then have an extended life as either pre-loved clothing or by being recycled into products of similar quality.

Cottonopoly has been conducting a trial of the takeback scheme at St Mark’s Church of England Primary School in Worsley and plans to roll out in other parts of the UK later this year.

Father-of-two David said: “We’re providing affordable, sustainable clothing and are incentivising parents to return items they no longer need so they can be renewed, re-used or recycled.

“Having young children, I am fully aware how many garments families can get through, and how they eventually end up being discarded.

“Every year, millions of school garments end up in landfill sites or are incinerated, both of which are very bad for the environment and are quite avoidable.

“Cottonopoly puts an end to single-life clothing, offering high quality and affordable products that can be easily and efficiently repurposed or recycled with negligible waste. Our mission is to reduce the impact of clothing on the planet, as well as on household purse strings.

“We’re collaborating with local mills, reducing the need for transportation. Anything can be sourced cheaply overseas, but the traditional UK textile heartlands are the perfect place to establish short, UK-based supply chains, which will be an essential part of tackling demanding environmental targets.

“Manchester and the surrounding area have deservedly been considered a hub of innovation ever since the Spinning Jenny and Spinning Mule effectively triggered the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th Century. At Cottonopoly we are continuing this tradition with a 21st century twist that puts consumers at its heart.”

David is looking to expand Cottonopoly to include other school uniform overgarments such as trousers and shirts, as well as workwear and potentially leisurewear. Customers will be able to buy items online via the company’s website or its app.

He is also separately selling the technology incorporated into NeuTrail and Cottonopoly under the brand name Scan&.

“NeuTrail and Cottonopoly are both underpinned by the same traceable takeback technology which keeps track of every product we make, including what it’s made from, who uses it and when it’s time to ultimately repair, re-use or recycle it,” he said.

“We use circular-design and traceable takeback technology to provide products that last longer and don’t end up being discarded, thereby inspiring people to become more conscious consumers.

“Our technology tracks all our products through their entire lifecycle, which makes returning them effortless. Users are better able to keep track of what they buy and are directly rewarded for returning the items at their end of life.

“If society is to meet challenging climate targets in the years to come, this circular way of thinking about products will need to become more commonplace, which is where The Clever Carbon Company comes in.

“Currently the sustainability landscape is confusing to both businesses and members of the public. The Clever Carbon Company is all about making sustainable practice more accessible and practical.”

Creative agency Fluid Ideas makes key hire to lead new team

Full-service creative agency Fluid Ideas has made a key strategic addition to its senior team with the appointment of Olivia Elliott as its head of performance and innovation.

Fluid has created the new P&I team to place greater focus on delivering impact for campaigns and projects undertaken for clients beyond traditional performance marketing tactics.

It is also focused on supporting continued innovation across Fluid’s 55-strong team to provide clients with forward-thinking solutions to their business and brand challenges.

Olivia, formerly head of digital marketing at BiGDUG and Davpack, has extensive experience in performance marketing and fast-paced e-commerce businesses, with a strong track record of expanding customer bases through an array of digital programmes and initiatives.

Her expertise spans SEO, PPC and paid media, email marketing, conversion rate optimisation, marketing automation, affiliate marketing and marketplace management on Amazon and eBay, as well as steering acquisition strategies.

Ed Bowler, joint managing director of Fluid, said: “Olivia is a strategically important addition to the senior team as we increase our focus on performance and innovation both internally and for our growing client base.

“The fact that we are investing in a team that’s dedicated to driving performance is rare for an independent regional agency, and it’s been extremely well-received by our clients. We’re passionate about helping to drive success for them as well as ourselves.”

He added: “Whenever we recruit, we assess whether the person can be a long-term addition to Fluid who wants to build something meaningful with us, brings something different yet complementary to their 50-plus colleagues, and will be a good fit in our long-standing client relationships. Olivia ticks all of these boxes and more.

“In terms of values and character she is an ideal fit, and her depth of expertise in performance marketing will take Fluid to a new level, as we focus on delivering creative strategies and impactful results across the board.”

Olivia said: “I’ve joined Fluid at an exciting time and I am thrilled to lead a dynamic team dedicated to pushing the boundaries and driving results in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

I really like the ethos and culture at Fluid and being alongside like-minded people who are committed to making a positive impact through their work.”

Fluid is an award-winning agency based at Darley Abbey Mills, a World Heritage Site on the outskirts of Derby. It recently added to its operations with a six-figure investment to create a drive-in studio for filming, photography, recording and events.

Its global client base is focused on four sector specialisms – care and wellness, property and developments, manufacturing and distribution and education and training.

Innovative approach from Minerva is providing solutions

A North Staffordshire financial planning company has invested in top class technology to enhance the client experience.

Founder of Minerva Financial Solutions Nicola Conway decided to introduce document management platform DocPortal in February this year, to help with the storing of important documents and information and to allow for a more efficient service. DocPortal stores personal and business documents, while clients can also access the app, allowing Nicola and her team to communicate and share information directly.

Nicola Conway, Founder of Minerva Financial Solutions, says: “In a world where we spend a lot of time storing information electronically, and accessing it digitally, it is important to be able to keep important documents in one place. We wanted to help clients to be able to access what they needed with ease and that’s why we introduced DocPortal into the business.

Nicola adds: “The app really can help to store someone’s important life documentation in one place. Our finances, life policies and even legal papers are really important and need to be stored in a way that can be accessed by family members on the occasion of a death, which can be a very difficult time for relatives to be dealing with such issues. However, as you can appoint digital executors within the app, these documents can be accessed more easily and help minimise the added stress of those challenging circumstances.”

Minerva Financial Solutions have now shared the DocPortal app with more than 300 clients. As well as arranging financial documents, users are able to upload personal information such as photographs and favourite trips if they wish, along with other day-to-day documents.

“Our experience is that it’s like having a filing cabinet in your pocket – but without the large amount of paper,” adds Nicola.

“Information can be uploaded instantly to the app and people can go back and look over things themselves in their own time. We’ve found it very useful and many of our clients have been keen to use it.”

Minerva Financial Solutions is an Appointed Representative of St James Wealth Management and is based in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

World Leading Asian Dining Concept, Panda Restaurant Group, Chooses Luminance’s AI

A global leader in Asian dining experiences, Panda Restaurant Group, Inc. (“Panda”), has adopted Luminance’s award-winning technology to bring AI to every aspect of its contracting processes.
The restaurant group, which has over 2,500 locations worldwide and includes beloved brands, such as Panda Express, Panda Inn, and Hibachi San, deals with hundreds of leases, purchase agreements, NDAs and engagement letters every year. As a result, the organisation’s corporate legal team sought an end-to-end AI platform capable of enhancing and augmenting their high-volume commercial contracting. After an extensive evaluation of the legal technology market, Panda turned to Luminance for its ability to bring next- generation AI to every stage of the contract lifecycle.
As the parent company of some of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the United States, Panda’s legal team now uses Luminance’s AI as its primary tool for negotiating and reviewing contracts, utilising the technology’s revolutionary ability to take a first pass review of any incoming contract to ensure that critical business deals are closed quickly and the company can maintain its exponential growth. Further, with essential l legal and enterprise knowledge now centralised within Luminance, Panda’s growing legal team can rapidly get up to speed with the company’s standards and better inform future decision-making.
With Luminance’s AI-powered contract repository delivering instant insight into any contract type, the technology is helping Panda to maximise revenue opportunities by ensuring that Supply Chain and Business Partner teams are alerted to impending contract termination or renewal dates. Meanwhile, Luminance AI-powered search functionality ensures Panda’s team can answer critical business questions from Finance and other teams across the organisation in minutes.
David J. Kim, Executive Director of Corporate Legal at Panda Restaurant Group, said: “As a best-in-class Asian dining concept, we know the importance of maintaining the highest levels of efficiency and our legal processes are no different. We’re excited to partner with Luminance to enhance and improve our productivity across our commercial contracting processes, empowering our team with the tools they need to focus on our mission of delivering exceptional dining experiences for our guests.”
Eleanor Lightbody, CEO of Luminance, added: “It’s fantastic to see yet another household name join the ranks of industry leaders using Luminance’s award-winning AI. Efficiency is best achieved by deploying one end-to-end AI solution across the entire contracting process. Luminance’s specialist AI allows Panda to do just that. I’m incredibly excited about the future of our partnership.” 

Leominster designers eye £1m opportunity after launching new ‘construction’ innovation

An accomplished team of Leominster designers and engineers have created a new ‘construction’ innovation that will change the way temporary steel supports are adjusted.

Having experienced the pain of using ‘acrows’ first hand on a renovation project, Grove Design’s Austin Owens challenged his colleagues to come up with a solution that would transform the time-consuming process to make it safe, quick and easy to adjust the supports using a standard impact driver.

After months of consultation and numerous prototypes, the answer involved replacing the threaded collar with the patented J-strut gear collar, which can be wound up and down to adjust the support height using the J-strut pinion gear.

The new product was exhibited at The Executive Hire and Professional Builder Live shows recently and the response was outstanding, justifying the new firm’s prediction of a £1m opportunity for sales between now and the end of 2022.

“Despite their global success, setting up temporary steel supports is still time consuming, labour intensive and fraught with the risk of injury,” explained Will Helme, one of the main designers on the project.

“Spinning the collar to the right height requires physical effort and when threads are caked in dirt, rust and cement it takes significantly longer and can feel a hundred times harder. We found that out for ourselves and often innovation comes from trying to solve a problem in everyday life.”

He continued: “J-strut removes the need for manual adjustment of the collar, avoiding the frustrations that come with repeatedly winding and adjusting. All the effort to overcome friction is done by the impact driver, reducing operator fatigue, and minimising the chance of injury from human error.

“Temporary support often needs to be deployed and removed quickly to facilitate a smooth build process. Our system enables rapid deployment by greatly reducing the time taken to spin the collar to the correct height. If a support is up against a wall and the operator can only turn the collar half a turn at a time, an adjustment that would usually take minutes to complete manually can be achieved with J-strut in a matter of seconds.”

The challenge for Austin, Will and the rest of the team is to create an efficient route to market, with the construction equipment rental and leasing industry estimated to be worth £6.2bn and comprising 5000 potential customers.

Licensing the design through patents to a large-scale UK-based manufacturer is one option, another is retailing direct to the end user through a website or via a distributor, or it could mean wholesaling to rental and leasing companies.

Austin went on to add: “At Grove Design, we’ve been helping automotive companies, recycling plants, leisure products and health and beauty specialists come up with new innovations under their name.

“There was always a passion to develop an innovation that could be our own and this has come with the arrival of J-strut. We believe we have a game-changing system, and the industry seems to agree…now is the time to take that potential and turn it into a commercial product that will create sales and local jobs.

“Importantly, we want our product to benefit the UK manufacturing supply chain and we have plans to source two thirds of the components from other members in the Manufacturing Assembly Network, a nine-strong group of domestic engineering specialists we are proud to be part of.”

For further information, please visit www.j-strut.com.

Launch of ‘one-stop-shop’ payments solution for forecourts will enable seamless customer experience for retailers

New P2PE enabled payment terminals for the forecourt industry from Suresite and TSG UK offers complete peace of mind 

Thanks to a strategic partnership between forecourt retail specialist Suresite Group and leading fuel and retail service provider TSG UK, a new point-to-point encryption (P2PE) payment solution has been developed specifically for the forecourt industry. 

The innovative solution – named Orion – offers a distinct point of difference that will pave the way for improved customer experience for retailers: it is a one-stop-shop. 
Crucially for retailers, this means that hardware, installation, software and customer support are all housed together from one provider. Addressing a longstanding issue among forecourt retailers, those adopting Suresites new solution will benefit from having just one point of contact no matter where problems in the payment chain may arise.  
Nick Horne, sales and commercial director at Suresite, explains: Orions launch signifies the first time Suresite has been able to offer a much needed one-stop-shop for the fuel and convenience sector. Prior to this, retailers often had to ring around numerous providers in the event that a payment problem occurred, creating customer service issues. 
The Orion device is backed by TSGs experienced team of service engineers and field technicians, and the fact that Suresite answers 97% of customer service calls in 15 seconds from their UK call centre – ensuring that if problems arise, they are resolved swiftly. 
Steve Watts, sales director at TSG UK commented: “TSG UK is delighted to partner with Suresite to provide after sales support for this highly secure payment solution. Suresites vast experience in payment processing, backed up by unparalleled customer service, ensures total satisfaction for operators across the UK. 
The new P2PE terminal, which accepts all major bank and fuel cards, is also PCI-approved, offering a safer choice for fuel forecourts. This ensures cardholder data is captured and encrypted, which both reassures consumers that their sensitive data is safe and secure, and significantly reduces the paperwork and potential costs associated with PCI compliance for forecourt retailers.  
With 15 yearsexperience in payments processing, were excited to be able to enhance our card payments offering with the Orion device enabling retailers to future proof their business, and offering complete peace of mind in terms of payment security,adds Nick. 
Alongside being highly secure, all of Suresites card payment terminals are also continually monitored to proactively check functionality, highlighting potential issues and triggering online resolution sometimes before an issue has even been noticed at the site.  

Diversity game-changers MSDUK announce Awards Finalists

The 18 finalists for the MSDUK Awards have been announced. From one of the largest consulting firms in the world to start-up entrepreneurs, the MSDUK Awards champion those businesses working hard to make supply chains both inclusive and competitive.

Some of the largest and most influential purchasing organisations in the UK, both public and private, will be recognised for their steadfast commitment to inclusive procurement and opening their supply chains. The doors they help open for small and minority-owned businesses and make a lasting impact on these growing businesses. Meanwhile, ethnic minority businesses across the UK will be recognised for innovation, growth and entrepreneurship.

Talking about being shortlisted as a finalist, Krystle Sands, Supplier Diversity Program Lead, EMEA, Meta said, “At Meta, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are top priorities for our business, and we take our dedication to diversity a step further. Our supplier diversity mission is to help diverse-owned companies do business with Meta, and with the people and communities that Meta connects. We work on building programs to support and expand the diversity of our suppliers and help other companies and organizations understand the impact of and grow their DEI efforts. Being selected as a finalist in the Emerging Corporate Supplier Diversity award is recognition of our team’s efforts to make an impact in the UK and around the globe.”

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE, aka The Black Farmer, and a finalist said, “Young people in the UK from ethnic minorities often struggle to open the right doors. MSDUK is doing brilliant work to level the playing field in the UK and Europe and, for example, helping to guide young entrepreneurs and to understand how to work with large corporates. But also helps larger corporates develop their own diverse supply chains. This scheme is the first step in bringing much-needed change to improve diversity in supply chains.”

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE, aka The Black Farmer, overcame many obstacles to realise his dream of owning a farm at the age of 40 and now wants young people from diverse backgrounds to consider farming as a career.

Sherry Vaswani, Group Chief Executive Officer, Xalient and finalist in three categories added, “MSDUK does a first-class job in shining a light on ethnic minority-led businesses that may have something unique to offer given their diversity – innovation for example.  Their work in helping open doors for young entrepreneurs and guiding them on how to succeed with large corporates is much needed and brings a whole new approach to improving the diversity in supply chains.”

Mayank Shah, Founder & CEO of Minority Supplier Development UK (MSDUK), looks back on the progression of MSDUK over the last 16 years and says,

“It’s great to see how far we have progressed and even more so to see how supplier diversity has now taken centre stage in corporate procurement strategies 2022 has seen over 100 global and British companies join MSDUK and opening up business opportunities for ethnic minority businesses. Supplier diversity programmes help address the issue of economic inequality and encourage entrepreneurship in under-represented communities.”

The winner of each award category will be announced at the prestigious MSDUK Business Awards ceremony on the second day of the MSDUK Conference, taking place in London on 8th September 2022. To buy tickets https://www.msdukconference.co.uk/

James Lloyd, Procurement Director, CBRE and finalist in the established corporate supplier diversity programme category said, “At CBRE, we build and maintain strong, diverse supplier relationships for an equitable and inclusive supply chain. These relationships are important in creating winning outcomes for our clients, employees and shareholders. Furthermore, engaging with diverse partners supports businesses in our community and strengthens our equitable and inclusive supply chain. We are very proud to be selected as a finalist in the Established Corporate Supplier Diversity category of the MSDUK Awards. It is a wonderful recognition for our team and the partners we work with up and down the supply chain to deliver these outcomes.”

Meet the finalists

You can find out more about the awards and MSDUK at https://www.msduk.org.uk/news/finalists-announced-msduk-awards-2022

Entrepreneur of the year

The Black Farmer, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones Xalient Holdings Ltd, Sherry Vaswani

ISA Support Services Ltd, Sunny Araf             The Glass Company Ltd, Sanmukh Bawa

 Business Woman of the Year

Creative Nature, Julianne Ponan        Xalient Holdings Ltd, Sherry Vaswani

Nistad Limited, Ada JabaruBrand       Xposure UK Ltd T/A BX Merchandise, Sarah Sayed

High Growth Business of the Year

Xalient Holdings Ltd, Sherry Vaswani                         BAP Pharma Ltd, Daniel De Brett

ZR Consultants Ltd (ZRC), Zeshan Raja

Excellence in Emerging Corporate Supplier Diversity Programme

Meta Platforms (Previously known as Facebook)      Unilever UK Ltd

Diageo

Excellence in Established Corporate Supplier Diversity Programme

CBRE                                                   EY

Accenture                                            Cummins Ltd

MSDUK is proud to champion the best of British EMBs and work with progressive global corporations that understand the value of supply chain inclusion and diversity.

The largest Supplier Diversity Conference in the UK & Europe showcases the best of Supplier Diversity Programmes and Ethnic Minority Businesses.

MSDUK is proud to champion the best of British EMBs and work with progressive global corporations that understand the value of supply chain inclusion and diversity.

The largest Supplier Diversity Conference in the UK & Europe showcases the best of Supplier Diversity Programmes and Ethnic Minority Businesses.

BladeBUG unveils new robot thanks to RIMA grant

BladeBUG has revealed its long-awaited new-look concept robot, which for the first time has been covered in an outer shell.

More robust and agile than ever before, the latest BladeBUG robot has a waterproof covering, which protects it from harsh elements when carrying out essential inspection and maintenance of wind turbines. A six-legged crawling robot, the BladeBUG robot inspects and repairs turbine blades by walking on them, a task that currently requires human technicians to be exposed to hazardous conditions.

In development for a year, the latest BladeBUG is undergoing rigorous testing including being hung on a real blade, and testing of its body movement and walking gait. BladeBUG has today released a video, offering the industry its first look at the advanced robot and its capabilities.

Chris Cieslak, Director and Founder at BladeBUG, said: “We are really looking forward to showing our investors and the industry what we have achieved so far with the latest robot. The BladeBUG has, until now, appeared to be exposed to the elements without an outer casing to protect it. That has all changed with our latest model, which is more versatile and robust than ever before.

“The BladeBUG robot has been designed to reduce costly turbine shut downs for our wind energy clients. It’s important these projects operate as smoothly as possible as the UK focuses its energy supply on renewable resources. We know the new-look robot is going to demand a lot of attention and we look forward to introducing our supporters and investors to it over the coming months.”

The new-look BladeBUG robot has been made possible thanks to Robots for Inspection Network (RIMA), which last year awarded BladeBUG and EGGS Design €150,000 to develop the robot and improve its usability for professional users.

EGGS has worked with a variety of robotics and mechanical engineering projects to commercialise and develop products for production and industrial use. Their experience from delivering designs for extreme environments and professional users provided valuable experience while collaborating with BladeBUG.

Chris Cieslak continued: “The grant really opened up an amazing opportunity to work with the very capable team at EGGS, while giving us access to RIMA network research groups. It’s helped us to understand technical challenges better and help widen our solutions for the market.”

The BladeBUG robot is safe, fast, reliable and, crucially, can reduce downtime when carrying out essential maintenance tasks or inspecting damaged turbines. The new robot is just one of a multitude of successes for the company over the last 12 months.

In tests earlier this year, the first BladeBUG advanced robot was deployed in just 35 minutes to inspect areas of concern on a turbine blade – up to half the time it would take a human rope access technician. And in 2021, the robot carried out a Lightning Protection Systems check during its first blade walk. It is just one piece of a huge array of tasks the BladeBUG will be capable of performing during offshore wind turbine maintenance and inspection going forward.

BladeBUG is already focusing on increasing the robot’s capabilities. Its engineers have been turning their attention to adding a suite of industry-standard tools and functionalities to the BladeBUG so O&M teams can treat defects before it would be viable to use a traditional rope access team. Not only will this increase the efficiency of the turbine but it will also maximise the low carbon energy generated.

The BladeBUG robot provides the safest approach to turbine blade inspections and maintenance activities. It saves wind farm operators time and money whilst lowering the level of risk involved for wind turbine technicians.

For more information, please visit: https://www.bladebug.co.uk/

RingCentral Announces Whiteboard for RingCentral Rooms and Expands Hardware Ecosystem

RingCentral, a leading provider of global enterprise cloud communications, video meetings, collaboration, and contact center solutions, today announced an expansion of its hardware ecosystem and new feature enhancements for RingCentral Rooms™. With return to office becoming a focus for many organizations, 76% of respondents in a recent survey reported that technological improvements and upgrades to conference rooms is a key priority.  

RingCentral Rooms enables organizations to transform their meeting spaces into dynamically enabled video conferencing destinations. It extends RingCentral Video and allows customers to have the same great video experience in a conference room that they already have in a home office or on the go. Now customers can select among several new hardware partners to enhance their conference rooms with high-quality, intelligent audio and video, and whiteboard – allowing room participants to better collaborate and be better seen and heard.   

“RingCentral Video has been great for maintaining that sense of team, especially during the lockdowns when we were all remote. And now that some of us are coming back into the office, having RingCentral Rooms is also great to make everyone’s conference room experience consistent and ensure we can always include anyone, anywhere, in our meeting,” said Justin Collins, IT manager at Credit Human Federal Credit Union.  

As old conference rooms undergo improvement, IT decision makers are turning to technology providers for the most advanced rooms solutions that allow workers to collaborate efficiently. To meet these needs, RingCentral is partnering with three added hardware vendors. 

RingCentral is partnering with Avocor: , a leading global provider of touch-enabled interactive displays, to unveil new innovations for RingCentral Rooms.

Through this partnership, the company is bringing RingCentral Rooms For Touch™ to market, which allows customers to join and end meetings with the touch of a finger. Through a new series of Avocor Collab Touch hardware displays with RingCentral Rooms for Touch software built in, customers can harness new capabilities–including digital whiteboarding and on-screen annotation. RingCentral Rooms for Touch will be compatible with Whiteboard, a virtual collaborative canvas, which is now available to customers in beta. 

A premium audio brand, EPOS, recently announced a new line of meeting room solutions using EPOS BrainAdapt™, a group of technologies that are designed to support the brain’s natural way of processing sound. It enables users to easily adapt to a hybrid meeting sound environment and reduce cognitive load through a video bar device. With support for RingCentral Rooms on EPOS Expand Vision 5, customers will be able to leverage the premium audio of EPOS and the latest collaboration features for meeting rooms to deliver a great experience for customers. (RingCentral Rooms software is scheduled to be certified with EPOS Expand Vision 5 video bar by Q4.)  

By partnering with a leader in personal sound and office solutions, RingCentral Rooms is able to harness Jabra’s advanced on-board AI to deliver an intelligent feature set that takes users’ video experience to the next level. Jabra’s PanaCast 50 intelligent video bar is certified for RingCentral Rooms. PanaCast 50 can automatically detect who’s speaking and intelligently adjust the picture to focus on them, delivering a better meeting experience that puts the most important content front and center. 

“Strong relationships with strategic hardware partners are important as we strive to address the complex challenges around fostering collaboration in modern hybrid work environments. We are excited to work with innovative partners like Avocor, EPOS and Jabra,” said Kira Makagon, chief innovation officer at RingCentral. “When paired with our partners’ advanced hardware offerings, RingCentral Rooms can unlock the full potential of today’s hybrid workforce and enable equitable collaboration for workers wherever they are.” 

In addition to these new partners, RingCentral continues to innovate through long standing Rooms partnerships with hardware solution providers Logitech, Poly and Yealink, giving users a wide range of RingCentral Rooms-enabled, all-in-one video conferencing solutions.  

In addition to partnerships, RingCentral has also announced key new feature enhancements for RingCentral Rooms that will enable interactive experiences for customers in hybrid work environments. 

Whiteboard for RingCentral Rooms allows users to co-create and collaborate with other participants regardless if they are in a room or home office. It’s easy to annotate and organize ideas with digital sticky notes and shapes using the whiteboard’s immersive, near infinite canvas. 

Sharing content from a user’s mobile device amongst meeting participants in a room is now made possible with the new proximity sharing mobile feature. 

Just like screen sharing, this feature further elevates the collaboration experience by sharing the meeting room camera full screen to enable remote participants to get closer views of what’s happening in a room.  

RingCentral Rooms supports end-to-end encryption, which means data is encrypted for its entire journey between endpoints, and no one other than meeting participants have access to that information.  

With closed captioning, users can enable on-screen captions. This gives better engagement for those who need extra language assistance, are hearing impaired, or simply want to be able to follow along and read what’s being said in the room’s environment. 

With new HDMI share, it’s easy to share presentations or content from a user’s laptop into the meeting room. Simply plug the RingCentral Rooms HDMI into any laptop to instantly share screens with all meeting participants.  

Instead of using admin credentials to register each new conference room with a Rooms license, it’s just a matter of hitting a few buttons. Admins can provide an activation code for each room and turn on Rooms remotely, easing the burden on IT. 

“As businesses adapt to the hybrid work model, one thing is clear – investments in office meeting spaces will continue to grow,” said Roopam Jain, VP of Research at Frost & Sullivan’s Connected Work Practice. “RingCentral’s new features, including Whiteboard, are designed to enhance team creativity and inclusivity with the goal of narrowing the effectiveness gaps found in most hybrid collaboration environments and better connect today’s dispersed workforce.”