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DIGIT Deal Roundup | December 2020

David Paul

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The end of 2020 saw a raft of new deals and investments rounding off a tough year for businesses across Scotland. This edition features Pawprint, Waterstons, SalesAgility and SolarisKit.

Investment & Funding

Alba Medical Sciences

Alba Medical Sciences

A medical technology firm from Perth launched a funding appeal to finance its innovative infrared R&D project last month

Alba Medical Sciences is looking to raise £120,000 to fund the various stages of research and development and deliver a final product by December 2021.

Working in collaboration with NHS Ninewells and with support from Dundee, St Andrews and Abertay Universities, the Alba Vital Scan project is scheduled to run through 2021 starting in January.

The company’s GoFundMe appeal began on Tuesday (8th December) and hopes to hit its target by the start of next year.

Discussing the importance of the technology in more detail, Grant Rooney, founder of Alba Medical Sciences said: “Whenever someone arrives at a hospital, they must have a “vital signs” health assessment which in the case of a highly contagious virus, exposes the NHS staff to a high risk of infection because there needs to be direct physical contact between them and the patient in order to attach various monitoring devices.

“Our project aims to develop The Alba Vital Scan technology, which will be capable of capturing all of a person’s vital signs remotely (using non-contact optical sensors) and to determine (via algorithms) that persons state of health.

“This means that both the patient and healthcare workers can be kept in separate safe spaces while a doctor holds a consultation (via an iPad or similar) and determines if isolation is essential and how best to manage that persons care.”

Rooney continued: “Demonstrating the successful and effective use of this technology to deliver a clinical diagnosis would allow it to be used in a variety of medical settings, such as hospital A&E, to deliver quick, safe assessments of patients.

“The more we can do to protect NHS staff from exposure to contagious illnesses, the more we are supporting the NHS to deliver safe, effective care at a time when it is under unprecedented pressure.”

Also commenting on the technology, Jean Ngoie, Head of Instrumentation & Clinical Engineering at NHS Tayside said: “We have a unique opportunity to speed up diagnosis, pinpoint areas of interest and allow our clinical team to customize therapy based on information that will be made available as a result of this project.

“As a result, we will be able to provide better and enhanced clinical services to the population that we serve.”

Read the full story here.


Pawprint

Pawprint far exceeded its initial £400k crowdfund target last month, raising more than £1 million in investment ahead of the fundraiser’s close.

Hosted on Crowdcube, the fundraiser attracted investment from over 720 investors including the ultimate impact investment of £150k from Perivoli Innovations.

Perivoli Innovations invest in the early-stage commercialisation of life science, medical, digital, renewable energy and other new technologies which have a positive social impact and then donate any resultant profits to the Perivoli Foundation, a UK Charity.

The investment will enable Pawprint to scale its mission of building a ‘globally impactful’ business enabling people to measure, understand and reduce their carbon footprints at home and at work.

Christian Arno, Pawprint founder and CEO, said; “Our ambition at Pawprint is to unite people and empower them to make an impact in the fight against climate change and we are blown away to have so many new investors join us and to have raised over £1 million.

“Perivoli Innovations really amplifies their investment impact and we’re delighted that subsequent profits received on their investment will go towards supporting the Perivoli Schools Trust which amongst other things shows nursery teachers in Africa how to create educational games from waste materials.”

A spokesman for Perivoli Innovations said: “We believe that addressing the climate crisis is the world’s most pressing task and that to do so change is required – change both top down (changes in regulations etc) and change bottom up (changes in individual and corporate behaviour).

“We are delighted to be investing in Pawprint which is set to play an important part in the change required bottom up. We wish them every success.”

Read the full story here.


FreeFlow Technologies

FreeFlow Technologies

Scottish eBike manufacturer FreeFlow Technologies secured £1.85 million following a heavily over-subscribed funding round in December.

The Glasgow-based firm, founded in 2012 by eBike innovator Neil MacMartin, will use the investment to support a move to a new headquarters and R&D facility in East Kilbride.

FreeFlow Technologies also said it plans to strengthen its team with senior technical and engineering hires.

The funding round was led by investment syndicate Kelvin Capital and supported by Equity Gap, Foresight Williams and Scottish Enterprise. The company raised £1.8 million in an earlier funding round in October 2018.

Commenting on the investment, Managing Director David Hemming said: “Before Covid hit the world the eBike sector was forecasted to grow by double digits each year for the foreseeable future however the global pandemic has changed the way people think about bikes across all walks of life.

“The needs of exercise and wellbeing and the need for a viable transportation options to and from work that is an alternative to public transport are now high on the public’s mind.”

FreeFlow Technologies says its eBike transmission system is more lightweight, compact and provides a higher power density than other products, with the motor and battery easily assembled into the bicycle frame rather than an oversized attachment as is common with other current electric bikes.

John McNicol from Kelvin Capital said: “The events of 2020 have brought an unexpected rise in the number of people cycling and, in particularly eBike sales, something that hasn’t been seen since the 2012 Olympics.

“Kelvin Capital is delighted to back FreeFlow Technologies with this investment round. It is a business bringing innovation to a well-established market with an impressive management team including the ex-senior exec team of Dyson and business leadership from major cycling brands such as Cannondale, Rapha, Marin Bikes and Whyte Bikes.”

Read the full story here.


SkyScanner

Gareth Williams co-founder of Skyscanner

Skyscanner co-founder Gareth Williams is among a number of high-profile investors in Edinburgh-based eco tech startup, Pawprint.

Alongside Williams, investors in the firm’s latest crowdfunding campaign include Tim Doubleday, Chair of Climate Action Leadership at Business in the Community and Darina Garland, co-founder and CXO of Ooni.

The announcement follows fresh news on Pawprint’s latest crowdfund campaign. So far, the company has smashed its current target, raising over £700k from more than 420 investors.

Hosted on Crowdcube, the business originally sought to raise £400k. The Pawprint crowdfund remains open for investments.

Investments in Pawprint range from £10 to £100k and have been made from a wide range of investors keen to play a part in building an impactful global business.

Gareth Williams, co-founder and former Skyscanner CEO, commented: “I hope for this investment to also be in our planet. A great team and now both a consumer and a business product. Pawprint could make a global positive difference.”

Garland added: “I invested in Pawprint because I’m inspired by how they’re engaging people everywhere to tackle sustainability issues in realistic, actionable ways.”

“It’s critical that business leaders win the hearts and minds of their colleagues – and quickly, given we’re facing a climate emergency.”

Christian Arno, Pawprint founder and CEO, said: “This is our second crowdfund this year and we are blown away by the support we have received, especially given what a challenging year 2020 has been for everyone.

“Not only have we raised over £700K so far but we have hundreds of investors from all walks of life willing to back our mission.”

Read the full story here.


The Scottish Government

Kate forbes Scotland Technology

The Scottish Government has announced an increase in funding to help businesses take advantage of digital technology.

It is hoped that firms will use the funding support to improve business productivity, increase their resilience and create new market opportunities in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As part of the support package, an additional £11.8 million will go towards helping businesses to adopt digital technologies and improve their digital capability.

Building on the success of existing digital support programmes, £10 million of funding will also be provided for financial incentives and expert advice to support businesses.

Commenting on the announcement, Jane Morrison-Ross, CEO of ScotlandIS said: “All sectors of Scotland’s economy can benefit from digital technology and skills to boost productivity and reach new markets.

“Access to funding to help this transformation is particularly welcome and pertinent to businesses in remote and rural areas, helping build their resilience and creating new opportunities.”

HIE will be given £800,000 to extend its Digital Enablement Grant scheme to reach more businesses in the Highlands and Islands.

The Data Lab will also receive £1 million to help businesses to invest in more advanced technologies such as data analytics and artificial intelligence.

Commenting on the funding boost, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “The firms that have coped best during the pandemic are invariably those that have been able to adapt with the help of digital tools.

“However, despite the digital transition made by many businesses, there is still far more that can be done to help businesses embrace the opportunities that digital offers. We also know that huge potential lies in the information and data that businesses hold and that is why we are also supporting businesses on their data journey.

“This funding will provide an immediate boost and will support businesses to adopt productivity-enhancing digital technologies. It will also help to improve their digital capability and the skills of their workforce so they can keep pace with future technological progress.

“Supporting SMEs on their digital journey is key to Scotland’s economic recovery and future prosperity.”

The funding announcement comes in addition to the wider economic recovery and business support funding already announced by Holyrood.

On top of £2.3 billion support provided at the start of the pandemic, the Scottish Government has released almost £1.3 billion in economic recovery funds and £93 million in business grants since October.

David Oxley, Director of Business Growth at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “Digital technology can revolutionise how organisations function, transforming performance by helping them become more productive, efficient and competitive. That has become even more important during the pandemic, with businesses and their customers increasingly recognising the benefits of trading online.

“These grants will also help organisations recover and diversify by investing in digital technologies. The money will make a real difference and will support companies that have the potential to retain and create jobs in all parts of the Highlands and Islands.”

Read the full story here.


Klik2learn

Klik2learn

A Glasgow-based edtech startup gained $93,386 in funding to evaluate the impact of online learning on students during and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

Klik2learn, whose Digital Learning Hub accelerates online English Language learning, secured the grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.

The money was awarded to projects that seek to “mitigate the health, social, economic, cultural, and environmental impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak.” The organisation’s data analytics project includes the development of learning analysis software to support better educational outcomes for students.

Commenting on the project, Ann Attridge, CEO of Klik2learn, said: “Educators have risen to the challenge of Covid-19 by adopting a range of online learning systems at speed and with limited resources.

“What is not understood is the impact of various online activities; self-directed, peer-to-peer, tutor-supported, immersive learning, and gamification on young people and their educational outcomes.

“The funding from UKRI and Innovate UK comes at an important time, allowing us to provide educators with evidence-based research on the effectiveness of different types of online learning.”

Working with The Data Lab and City of Glasgow College, Klik2learn will provide those within the education sector with insights to understand how learning happens in the digital space as well as the tools to help improved education.

“It’s great for The Data Lab to be involved in such innovative and important work,” said Dr Joanna McKenzie, Principal Data Scientist, The Data Lab.

“Data science and analytics techniques have enormous potential to support educational outcomes, something that underpins and supports the whole economy.

“Really getting the most from online learning offers enormous value to learners and teachers at all stages, extending opportunities to people who might otherwise be missed, and the potential of that has never been clearer.”

Dr Ian Campbell, Executive Chair of Innovate UK commented: “The pandemic is not just a health emergency but one that impacts society and the economy. Klik2learn, along with every initiative Innovate UK has supported through this fund, is an important step forward in driving sustainable economic development.”

Read the full story here


Orbex

Orbex

Forres-headquartered space company Orbex secured $24 million (£18 million) in funding to accelerate new UK space projects.

Led by BGF and Octopus Ventures, Orbex said the funding round will enable it to secure a roadmap to the first launch from the Sutherland spaceport.

Orbex has already confirmed six commercial satellite launch contracts, with the first expected in 2022. The company’s preferred launch site will be the Sutherland port which was granted planning permission in mid-August 2020.

Commenting on the funding, Orbex CEO Chris Larmour said: “This financing round is an important step forward for Orbex. It helps us maintain our rapid pace and allows us to move forward with certainty towards our first launch from the Sutherland spaceport.

“With BGF and Octopus Ventures we have found significant strategic partners who recognise our vision, and who have the capability to support our development through both the early flights and into subsequent growth and production.”

Scottish Minister for Trade, Investment, and Innovation Ivan McKee said: “This is great for Forres, Moray and the Highlands and marks further strong progress for Orbex.

“Our aim is for Scotland to secure a £4 billion slice of the global space market by 2030 – an ambitious but realistic target. The Scottish space sector has a unique selling point – using space as a force for good – designing lighter, more efficient rockets, developing clean-burning and renewable fuel and using satellite data to combat climate change and promote scientific discovery.

“This investment will help Orbex take a significant step towards their goal of placing small satellites into orbit from Space Hub Sutherland and help build an innovative new industry for Scotland’s economy.”

The announcement will bring significant new investment and employment opportunities at large-scale production facilities in the Scottish Highlands, close to the launch site at the A’Mhoine peninsula in Sutherland. The A’Mhoine site was granted planning permission in August this year and is expected to begin construction in 2021.

Commenting on the created opportunities for Scotland’s, space sector, UK Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “We want the UK to be Europe’s leading destination for launching small satellites – driving economic growth in communities up and down the country.

“Companies like Orbex are playing a vital role in the UK’s thriving commercial spaceflight market and today’s funding reflects the confidence that investors have in Orbex, helping to bring small satellite launch from Sutherland one step closer.”

The funding round is completed by a €2.5 million grant from the European Horizon 2020 SME Instrument programme – the first for a UK space-sector company – to support the development of patented coaxial tanking technology.

Orbex previously won £5.5 million in grant funding from the UK Space Agency’s Launch UK programme in 2018.

Read the full story here.


The UK Space Agency

Westminster has announced that three Scottish space projects are to split £850,000 to help launch Britain’s space sector.

The UK Space Agency says that the money will go to “high-risk, high-reward projects” in the UK and will support companies and universities “with radical ideas for how we tackle climate change”.

Ideas include Earth Observation, addressing satellite communications challenges, providing greater connectivity to remote places and increasing the efficiency of our homes.

As part of the 21 organisations set to receive the money, two projects from the University of Edinburgh and one from a Glasgow based firm will use their share for telecommunications tech, space-borne lidar systems and data handling tech to combat climate change.

The University’s SlipStream project will receive £214,543, while their GLAMIS project and Glasgow-based Craft Prospect’s ROKS payload flight model take £289,920 and £345,433 respectively.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway commented: “We want the UK to be a world leader in space technology which is why we are supporting our most ambitious innovators who are developing first-of-a-kind technologies to help solve some of our greatest challenges.

“From slashing carbon emissions to protecting the UK’s critical services from harmful cyber-attacks, today’s funding will unshackle our most entrepreneurial space scientists so that they can transfer their revolutionary ideas into world-class products and services while helping to boost the UK economy.”

Funding comes from the UK Space Agency’s National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP) which hopes to allow Britain to compete internationally with countries like France and Germany, which have dedicated national funding for space.

Commenting on the funding, Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “Space technologies have become deeply embedded in, and critical to, almost every aspect of our daily lives. With rapid technological innovation, space offers a broad and growing range of opportunities to support economic activity and protect the environment.

“From the satellites connecting our calls to the ones that tell us when to expect rain when we step outside, space technologies are fundamental to our day-to-day lives.

“Our space sector is constantly advancing and welcoming new ideas, and through this funding, we are championing the best of this British innovation.”

Read the full story here.


Deals & Partnerships

CodeClan

Scottish Tech army

Digital skills academy CodeClan has partnered with the Scottish Tech Army to offer graduates a springboard into new digital careers and a chance to work alongside the organisation’s developers on a range of projects.

Launched in April this year, the Scottish Tech Army was founded to harness the skills of Scotland’s technology community and support organisations in the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Since its launch, some 1,200 volunteers have joined Scottish Tech Army and worked on more than 175 projects, spanning public sector and social enterprise initiatives.

Organisations supported by Scottish Tech Army include Young Enterprise Scotland, Govan Community Project, Edinburgh Community Food, Voluntary Services Aberdeen, Inspiring Scotland and the National Library of Scotland.

Alistair Forbes, Founding Director and CEO of the Scottish Tech Army said: “CodeClan graduates have found that working on these projects has given them a valuable opportunity to put the skills they gained at CodeClan to practical use, work with experienced technologists and build their professional networks.

“They have also played an important part in the delivery of our services across Scotland and we are delighted to be extending our partnership.”

Melinda Matthews-Clarkson, CEO, CodeClan, added: “We are excited to formalise our partnership with Scottish Tech Army, which has already done so much important work for so many Scotland-based organisations that have faced incredible challenges because of Covid.

“For our graduates, working on real world projects can provide invaluable experience, experience which we can see has also helped many of them to secure employment.”

Read the full story here.


Waterstons

Business and IT consultancy Waterstons has joined an exclusive list of Government approved cybersecurity providers.

The company has joined the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) Certified Security Consultants scheme which secures “independently certified, industry delivered, consultancy for government,” wider public sector and Critical National Infrastructure organisations.

Waterstons’ is one of only 26 companies to join the scheme, and one of only 20 companies to make it on to the framework specialising in cybersecurity risk assessment and risk management.

The firm began the application process in March 2020 and have now been officially designated as an ‘Assured Service Provider’ across risk assessment and risk management domains.

Waterstons is now working to assist clients globally having established a Security Operating Centre based across their UK and Australian offices. This allows clients to benefit from proactive security monitoring around the clock in order to safeguard their critical systems and reputation from the evolving cyber threat.

Craig Archdeacon, Senior Information Security Consultant at Waterstons, said: “At Waterstons we know that building a successful and resilient business requires strong foundations in which cyber security plays a critical part.

The NCSC risk assessment and risk management accreditation is testament to the years of effort and endeavour from our security team, which I’m extremely proud to be part of. This endorsement from the NCSC gives us the platform to help more Scottish businesses build the stable foundations required to create a resilient business.”

SolarisKit

SolarisKit

An Edinburgh-based cleantech startup announced plans to establish a production facility on Dundee’s new ‘low carbon’ campus in December.

SolarisKit is joining the new accelerator programme at the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc (MSIP) to expand the production of solar thermal collection tech.

The firm will move to MSIP in January to establish a new assembly line to build its collectors, which the firm says will provide “affordable hot water systems and clean energy to Scottish homes.”

Commenting on the setup in Dundee, Faisal Ghani, founder and CEO of SolarisKit said: “Our plan is to setup a new manufacturing assembly line by the end of January to produce an initial run of 100 flat-packable solar thermal units destined for a trial project we are undertaking in Rwanda to demonstrate both the environmental and socio-economic impact achieved from the supply of affordable clean energy.

“To prepare for this, we are currently investing in equipment and production tooling. In our first year of manufacture, we aim to employ an initial eight staff, doubling the size of the workforce over the following two years.”

Greig Coull, CEO at MSIP said: “SolarisKit is an exciting start-up company with huge growth potential. Its solar technology is another example of a new company contributing to and delivering towards ambitious climate change plans around the world, creating carbon neutral economic growth.

“SolarisKit not only fits well with the scope of the ambition at MSIP, its ethos of creating inclusive places for people to live very much matches our own. We believe in its mission to deliver affordable hot water systems and clean energy for those living in developing nations and will support SolarisKit as much as we can.

“We were excited to welcome SolarisKit onto our first Accelerator Programme earlier this year, and today are pleased to soon welcome them as a tenant at MSIP.”

The move to Dundee is another milestone for SolarisKit this year. The company secured £250,000 in funding in January through Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst Programme to begin trialling of tech in Africa.

Ghani said at the time: “By focusing on the development of low-cost, high-value solar technology, our goal is to lower global carbon emissions while helping to improve the lives of millions of people in the developing world.”

Read the full story here.


SalesAgility and Nextcloud

Stirling-based CRM provider SalesAgility has partnered with German content collaboration platform, Nextcloud GmbH, bringing together two leading open-source communities to create an integrated user experience, giving businesses full control of their data.

The first phase of the integration with SalesAgility’s flagship SuiteCRM solution provides Nextcloud users a new comprehensive dashboard widget. This displays upcoming activities from SuiteCRM and receives notifications from inside Nextcloud. Users are also able to directly search on key SuiteCRM modules including Account, Contacts and Leads.

SuiteCRM and Nextcloud are released under open source licenses allowing users to protect their digital sovereignty and have the freedom to host on-premise or opt for cloud hosting.

Dale Murray, CEO at SalesAgility said: “Our vision is to transform the CRM market by creating a powerful, flexible and user focused open-source solution. SuiteCRM provides users with a central repository for all customer data enabling key insights that can be used to enhance and nurture business relationships.

“By building relationships with technologies such as Nextcloud we are not only enhancing the productivity of our customers but working with communities who share our vision and value of giving customers full control over their data and systems.”

Frank Karlitschek, Founder and CEO at Nextcloud GmbH said: “Our customers are looking for a great user experience from their content collaboration platform, empowering users to access and work with their data and communicate wherever they are.

“Nextcloud enterprises optimize the productivity of their teams while keeping data secure and integrating with a variety of other technologies. The integration with SuiteCRM enables our users to access crucial customer data directly from within their collaboration environment.

“Connecting in such a way with fellow open source communities multiplies the benefits of open ecosystems for our mutual customers.”


ScotlandIS

ScotlandIS

Scotland’s first directory for IT Managed Services has been launched by the membership and cluster management organisation for Scotland’s digital technologies industry, ScotlandIS.

The online directory brings together over 170 companies from across the sector in one place for the first time to promote the capabilities of IT Managed Service companies in Scotland and enable smaller companies to find wider service providers to support their customers.

The creation of the directory is in response to the rise in phishing, in targeted hacking at both business and consumer levels, with many organisations struggling to understand the steps they need to take to lock down their security and become resilient.

Jane Morrison-Ross, chief executive at ScotlandIS, said: “The new IT Managed Services directory is an important step in making Scotland more resilient and brings together a wealth of expertise in one place. The directory, which is a first for Scotland, covers everything from security testing and risk management to cloud services and database management.

“The new directory will reassure companies that Scotland’s IT service companies are truly cyber secure and can tap into expertise wherever they are based.”

David Ferbrache OBE, Chair National Cyber Resilience Advisory Board for Scotland said: “ScotlandIS have created a searchable directory for IT Managed Services in Scotland. A great step in helping clients find suppliers who can meet their specific IT management requirements including their cyber security and resilience needs”

The directory covers a wide range of services, including auditing and compliance; certifications and training; communication and collaboration services; data and information management; development; monitoring analytics and reporting; networking hosting and infrastructure; SaaS; security; and support services.


CheckPoint

FinTech Scotland

Check Point has announced that it has been chosen by NHS National Services Scotland, the publicly funded healthcare service in Scotland, to secure and streamline the management of its public cloud data and provide complete threat prevention for vital public services such as Scotland’s ‘Test & Protect’ and vaccine management services.

NHS Scotland provides public health and social care services to the country’s population and has been transitioning healthcare data and services to Microsoft’s Azure public cloud for the past 18 months.

The start of the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need for security that seamlessly expands on demand to hyperscale capacity. NHS Scotland’s cloud infrastructure powers the country’s ‘Test & Protect’ services, which has over a million users, as well as the ‘Protect Scotland’ proximity app, so it was critical these services were completely secured against threats and attacks. The organization is also developing systems for scheduling and managing Covid-19 vaccinations in Scotland as the vaccines become available.

Deryck Mitchelson, Chief Information Security Officer, NHS Scotland, said: “Check Point’s CloudGuard has been key in enabling us to add new cloud workloads and services without needing to constantly review or deploy new security infrastructure. This means we can focus on the critical public-facing tasks where we can add real value, such as developing and running Scotland’s ‘Test & Protect’ services.

“Right now we are building our vaccination management systems, and our cloud-first approach gives us the agility and scalability we need to roll it out nationally while being sure that data and services are secured.”

“Health data is probably Scotland’s most valuable asset, so it’s essential that it remains absolutely secure wherever it is being stored or accessed. We now have much more visibility than we had before we implemented the Check Point solutions,” added Mitchelson.

“We can really understand where the data is and who is accessing it, from where, and ensure it is protected at every point of entry.”


Amiqus

Amiqus, the Leith-headquartered software company that enables organisations to engage new clients or staff remotely, has entered the public sector after securing contracts with the Scottish Government and the NHS Business Services Authority.

Founded by Callum Murray in 2015, Amiqus is already used by hundreds of businesses to facilitate tens of thousands of pre-contractual identity and financial status checks every month.

The firm began working with the Scottish Government People Directorate through the Scottish Government’s CivTech accelerator with the goal of improving the pre-employment experience for civil service candidates, while significantly reducing the workload for HR teams.

During this time Amiqus engineers worked collaboratively with Government teams to deliver a new payment gateway to support the Scottish Government in issuing and managing rapid Disclosure checks.

Amiqus Public Affairs lead Laura Westring said of the collaboration with CivTech, “As a former civil servant it has been great to see how the Scottish Government People Directorate and the CivTech teams worked so openly and constructively with our engineers, researchers, client and product teams.

“It’s not easy to introduce new software into any civil service, but the fact that we were all working in alignment and in the spirit of the National Performance Framework meant everyone was on the same page right from the start, looking to co-design a solution for maximum value and efficiency.”

Amiqus CEO Callum Murray said, “Five years ago, you couldn’t conceivably access legal or financial help, move home, or job, without getting through mountains of paperwork. Amiqus has been building trust and expertise since then and now supports hundreds of organisations and tens of thousands of people every month through our software.

“We’re excited to be working with the teams at both the Scottish Government and the NHS Business Services Authority and look forward to welcoming many more new clients in the new year.”


Heriot-Watt University and Chromacity

Heriot-Watt University has entered a five-year Strategic Relationship Agreement with laser firm Chromacity to transform academic research into commercial innovation.

The agreement enhances the continued close collaboration between the two, with the Chromacity ideally positioned to commercialise academic research in the field of laser-related photonics.

Heriot-Watt University will also provide Chromacity with access to state-of-the-art lab facilities, workshops and research staff in the photonics field, while Chromacity supports the University by seconding at least one PhD or EngD student per year.

Prof. Patrik Öhberg, who leads the University’s Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences (IPAQS), said, “The technology that Chromacity has developed is all about accuracy and control of light, and this skill supports a wide range of applications within spectroscopy and microscopy techniques.

“This agreement aims to facilitate the transformation of Heriot-Watt University’s fundamental research into commercial opportunities by leveraging Chromacity’s expertise in developing ultrafast lasers for academic and industrial markets.”

To date, the partnership has produced innovative laser solutions to global challenges by focusing on the development of next generation optical parametric oscillators which are critical for applications such as detection of gases which are harmful to people, assets and the environment.

Shahida Imani, CEO, Chromacity, said, “We are thrilled to have signed a Strategic Relationship Agreement with one of the world’s top Universities for laser-related photonics. Chromacity has strong foundations with Heriot-Watt University and we look forward to helping build bridges between the pioneering research taking place at the University and the commercial applications where those discoveries can play a transformative role in society.”


Holistic Energy

Edinburgh-based Holistic Energy has revealed the next development stage for a large-scale renewable energy village in the northeast of Scotland.

The park is designed to deliver between 150 and 200 MW of green energy to the Scottish grid, with the capacity to power tens of thousands of homes across the north-east of Scotland.

Development is like to start on a purchased 40-hectare site close to the existing Peterhead Power Station in Aberdeenshire.

The energy park project was initially announced in April, led by a company called Newfield Energy after attracting overseas investment from North China Power Engineering (NCPE), who agreed to invest £500m in the project.

However, Holistic Energy has now taken control of the work, and the NCPE has committed an extra £300m for the build-out phase.

A feasibility study has produced an outline layout of the facility, the range of technologies to be used and how these will interact, to ensure the best possible efficiency and the lower environmental impact.

For phase two of the project, Holistic Energy says that it may explore the deep geothermal potential of the site.

Commenting on the project, Dr Gen Cannibal, director of Holistic Energy, said: “The facility will have three primary purposes – to produce a local renewable power station in Peterhead which can approach the most commonly identified barriers to renewable uptake, to form a major R&D facility for new technologies that have reached the marketable stage but have not, as of yet, attained large-scale market application in the UK and thirdly, to provide a significant replacement to gas-powered plants in satisfying Scottish electricity demands and, hence, decarbonising the Scottish economy.

“The ambitions for the development of the Renewable Energy Village are to showcase Scotland and the UK as a world leader in energy transition projects and enhance our delivery timeline to low or zero-carbon energy sources.”

It is estimated that 1500 jobs will be created to build the park along with a further 250 permanent positions. Holistic Energy hopes to commence in building in 2023 and be operational by 2026.

Read the full story here.


Scottish Government, EE and the Home Office

The Scottish Government is teaming up with EE and the Home Office to boost rural 4G across Scotland for the first time.

Strathconon, Blairmore and Reawick have been connected to 4G, with a further 32 locations across rural Scotland to follow.

These sites are all part of the Scottish Government’s £25 million Scottish 4G Infill programme (S4GI) which is delivering 4G infrastructure and services in so-called ‘not-spots’ in rural Scotland, providing 4G connectivity to areas which previously had no coverage.

Delivered by the S4GI programme and connected as part of EE’s Emergency Service Network partnership with the Home Office, the new sites will provide vital connectivity in some of Scotland’s most rural areas.

Scottish Emergency Services and Mountain Rescue will be able to access a reliable 4G mobile service for the first time, as well as residents, visitors and businesses.

Scotland’s Connectivity Minister Paul Wheelhouse commented: “It’s great that local communities and Scotland’s emergency services will benefit from improved mobile coverage, and my thanks go to our partners including EE for their work in making this happen.

“The Scottish Government’s £25 million S4GI programmes in extending the 4G coverage to 40 not-spots across Scotland from the Highlands and Islands to Ettrick in the Scottish Borders, also is enabling the Emergency Services Network to reach more rural places than ever before, ensuring more people keep connected and remain safe.

“We are currently dealing with a global health emergency, and during this, digital connectivity is crucial in ensuring Scotland’s social and economic recovery. With the S4GI roll-out providing local residents and businesses with mobile connectivity for the first time, this network will help future-proof the health and livelihoods of local rural communities.”

Richard Harrap, Managing Director of ESN, at EE, said: “We’re committed to bringing reliable coverage to communities for the first time, and providing the much-needed reassurance that the emergency services and first responders can stay connected in even the most remote areas.

“We are already well ahead of other operators in delivering rural 4G coverage, and these new sites will further expand accessibility. These 35 sites delivered by the S4GI programme add to the portfolio of over 600 new sites we have built-in rural areas across Great Britain.

“This portfolio represents a great opportunity for other operators to share our infrastructure and increase coverage availability for everyone.”

Read the full story here.


Commsworld

Commsworld

Network provider Commsworld has gained a £5.8m contract from Glasgow City Council (GCC) to transform digital systems across the city.

The Edinburgh-headquartered firm will install, manage, and support a new full-fibre network delivering CCTV and traffic control services across the city, replacing GCC’s ageing legacy networks and supporting Internet of Things (IoT) tech and 5G network capabilities.

GCC said the contract will deliver ‘significant benefits’ for residents and offer more efficient and targeted services for Glasgow.

Commenting on the award, Ricky Nicol, Chief Executive of Commsworld, said: “We are delighted that Glasgow City Council has put its faith in Commsworld and the high-quality service which we provide.

“Together with our digital partner CGI we look forward to delivering a state of the art, a world-class digital network for Glasgow, a network that can move it a step closer to becoming a global Smart City.

“We have a proven track record in providing resilient, robust full-fibre capabilities through our Optical Core Network. Through this network, we can build, manage and monitor a system that fully meets the 21stcentury needs of Glasgow’s councillors and residents.”

GCC also announced that Commsworld will deliver 5G implementation across Glasgow, as well as supporting “a range of IoT sensor-enabled automation”, including flood and water management, noise-monitoring, pollution monitoring, and building management.

Councillor Angus Millar, Chair of the Digital Glasgow Board, said: “We recognise the vital role that our digital infrastructure plays in the smooth running of Glasgow, which in turn impacts on the city’s prosperity and productivity.

“Working closely with Commsworld, we are firmly committed to enabling a CCTV and traffic control system that makes Glasgow’s road network more efficient, while at the same time bringing quality job opportunities to our city.”

Read the full story here.


Exterro and AccessData

In December, Exterro, a provider of Legal GRC software, announced the acquisition of AccessData, the industry’s leading provider of digital forensic investigation technology.

The acquisition furthers Exterro’s vision of empowering customers to manage their legal governance, risk and compliance (GRC) obligations while maintaining and ensuring the highest levels of data integrity proactively and defensibly.

By combining forces with AccessData, Exterro can now provide companies, government agencies, law enforcement, law firms and legal service providers with the only solution available to address all Legal GRC and digital investigation needs in one integrated platform.

Bobby Balachandran, CEO at Exterro, commented: “Converging market forces in DFIR, e-discovery, privacy and information governance are the driving factors behind this acquisition.

“To effectively address these critical challenges requires the ability to identify, preserve, analyse and present data in a contextual manner, quickly and inexpensively. It also requires a consistent, defensible process.

“Ensuring the integrity of the data supply chain is of the utmost importance. With the acquisition of AccessData, Exterro combines all of these capabilities in a single, integrated platform to give organizations a holistic framework for addressing their Legal GRC challenges and obligations.”

Ken Naumann, CEO at AccessData said: “This is an exciting day for AccessData customers. As the leading Legal GRC technology provider, Exterro offers a portfolio that perfectly complements our own innovations.

“The acquisition will bring tremendous new value to our users, helping them strengthen and defensibly accelerate end-to-end forensic investigations and e-discovery.

“Exterro shares our deep commitment to FTK and is dedicating significant resources and investment to drive additional innovation throughout the combined product lines, with the common goal of taking customer satisfaction to new heights while ensuring the highest level of data integrity.”

Read the full story here.

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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