VR at Myerscough College

Using Virtual Reality in the land-based sector

An innovative project led by Myerscough College and aimed at using Virtual Reality to enhance skills and learning in the land-based sector has been hailed as an overwhelming success.

Following a successful bid to the Association of Colleges funded by the Education & Training Foundation, Myerscough’s E-Learning team has spent the last year designing VR packages to be used in enhancing teaching and learning. It was decided that the technology would be initially trialed in the sectors of Agriculture, Equine and Sportsturf.

Click here to read the full story.

“It was clear that the students really enjoyed the session – I haven’t seen them voluntarily give a round of applause before!! Very well done and thank you for coming along to run the VR and helping make sure the lesson worked well. With such a great response I think there is a strong case for more VR to be used!!”  Craig Thompson, Head of Agriculture.

“I like this kind of approach to lessons, I hate just copying off a board. It’s boring.” Equine Student.

Connect Childcare in Lancashire

Connect Childcare are ready to expand.

An investment package totalling £2.5million is set to create 30 new jobs for an East Lancashire childcare technology specialist. Connect Childcare, which provides software solutions for private nurseries and childcare providers, employs 60 but there are hopes to swell their ranks by 50 percent over the next three years.

Commenting on the investment, Chris Reid, founder and CEO said, “Investment enables us to continue the development of platforms and to retain and attract staff who are fundamental to our growth.” 

Based near Nelson, their £260,000 new office move, to 9,000 square feet open-plan offices in Lindred Road, on the Lomeshaye industrial estate, is behind ambitious growth plans.

“Our former home was just over 3,000 sq ft and we really were working on top of each other, which wasn’t good for staff morale and we couldn’t wait to move. For us, the important thing was to bring the team together as one and encourage collaborative working, yet in a fun, modern, fit-for-purpose environment. There was also a secondary need to attract new talent through our doors and to bring them to Nelson, we knew we need that little something more.

Read the full story from Lancashire Telegraph by clicking here. 

British Business Bank

Extra £200 million for British businesses

High-flying firms across the UK will benefit from a further £200 million of government support to ensure that innovative British firms can access the finance they need to grow.

The Exchequer Secretary, Robert Jenrick, marked the launch of the new funding that will be made available to innovative businesses through funds supported by the British Business Bank. He said Ministers were determined to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business. This type of funding has traditionally been sought by fast-growing firms in the science and technology sectors.

“The UK is creating more start-ups and attracting more venture capital funding than any other European country, but we want to do more to ensure our small businesses and entrepreneurs can thrive. That’s why we are injecting a further £200 million into the British Business Bank, specifically to back businesses that are scaling up”.

Read the full story on the British Business Bank by clicking here.

 

Digital and Tech Events in Lancashire

Digital and Tech Events in Lancashire

In the past week, there have been at least two events (that we know of) in Lancashire specifically for the digital community. These events were created by a passionate group of people, and have grown in attendance month on month. I’m sure you’ll appreciate the time and effort that goes into organising, promoting and running an event; it isn’t just a case of turning up on the day.

#DigitalMeetUpPreston, set up by Mark Preston and supported by Digital Lancashire held its sixth event at Society 1 last Wednesday where Mark announced it would be the last one. We’re hopeful that there’ll be something similar set up for Preston in the coming months. If you’d be interested in running or leading an event, please email us. Over those 6 months, Mark arranged for over 12 speakers to come and talk at these free events, all relating to digital marketing and grew the MeetUp group to over 300 members.

“When it comes to digital marketing, nobody knows everything and we are all learning all the time.”

We’d like to thank Mark for his commitment to #DigitalMeetUpPreston!

#DigitalMeetUpPreston

Lancashire Tech Talks has also just reached its 6-month milestone with attendance growing month on month. Held each month in Blackburn, the MeetUp group has over 600 members!

“Lancashire Tech Talks is an open, free and friendly meetup for the local tech community in the North West, ran by the Graham & Brown I.T. team in Blackburn. 

We’re focused on providing an inclusive environment for like-minded people of all ages and levels of experience to get together for talks and demos about all things tech.

Whether it’s learning about cloud services, mobile development, machine learning or the latest in front-end, there’s something for everyone in the tech community.”

Their recent evening event featured 5 speakers, with 4 taking on the popular ‘lightning talk’ concept which you may have seen at our Lancaster events earlier this year. [A lightning talk is a very short presentation lasting only a few minutes.]

We’d like to say another THANK YOU to the Graham & Brown I.T. team for their commitment to Lancashire Tech Talks.

They are able to bring this event to people for free thanks to carefully selected sponsors that are keen to support the event. If you’d be interested in sponsoring one of our events, please do get in touch.

Digital Lancashire will grow and evolve by listening to you, the digital community, so we encourage you to continue talking to us. On our events page, you’ll see details of various events happening across Lancashire. If you have an event that is specifically supporting the digital community in Lancashire, please do let us know and we’ll add it to the page, just email hello@digital-lancashire.org.uk. If there is a type of event you’d like to see in Lancashire then please let us know using the email address above.

Coworking and Collaboration

Here at Digital Lancashire, we understand the value of coworking and collaboration and we know there are challenges across Lancashire in identifying spaces where this kind of work can flourish. Society1 in Preston created their space almost two years ago now and have a growing community of creative and digital people and companies.

They’ve recently started a coworker feature on their blog and we came across this one with Dr Staffan Evans – a Chartered Mechanical Engineer, specialising in Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) and Engineering Simulation Software.

What inspires/drives you?

Steffan: I’m a mega-nerd, plain and simple, but I love the balance between scientific theory and the art of making things a reality! The technology I use and sell really is at the cutting edge of the industries I work with. The best part is seeing a super-cool product that is made better by my input. I recently rode an Evotech-designed mountain bike through a forest at 45mph, safe in the knowledge that it was both structurally sound and super-lightweight. The ’16-year old me’ would never have thought that was possible!

To read the full post, please click on the link below.

Let us know if you’d like to see a similar feature on our website.

Digital Lancashire

1 Year, 12 Months, 365 Days, 8760 hours

It’s been almost a year since the Digital Skills Partnership launch at EKM in Preston. Lancashire was the first county in the UK to launch a partnership and in the last 12 months have been joined by 5 others which include Heart of the South West, West Midlands Combined Authority, South East, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and Cheshire and Warrington.

The long term goals are to help identify gaps in digital skills provision in Lancashire, encourage partners to work strategically together to address them and attract investment from outside bodies.

The event kick-started numerous initiatives and has no signs of slowing down. Kerry Harrison joined as our Regional Coordinator in December 2018. In a blog she wrote for the Digital Skills Partnership she said; “It’s my job to share knowledge and opportunities, and join the dots between existing good practice and those in need of support and development. Growing the number of people, businesses and providers in our partnership will continue to strengthen the work that takes place now.”

Already this year we have seen local schools and colleges take part in the Digital Advantage programme. The graduation ceremony will be in May at County Hall in Preston and we’d love to see some of our members there and give you the chance to chat with your future workforce.

Digital Lancashire have also been supporting Further Education providers as they prepare for the introduction of T-Levels in September 2020. You can read more about this here. We’ve also helped to organise numerous Google Garage workshops, the last of which was held at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk. There have also been numerous Facebook workshops held across the county including one held at Society 1 in Preston last month.

As well as training there are events happening monthly within the county that bring people working in digital and tech roles together. These include Lancashire Tech Talks which takes place in Blackburn each month, #DigitalMeetUpPreston and Code for Lancaster. All of these events and more can be found on our Events page. Click the links above to join the groups on MeetUp.

It’s our aim over the next 12 months to have a Digital Lancashire roadshow of events so if you think your town or city should host one, please get in touch by emailing hello@digital-lancashire.org.uk. 

We play an active role in the Digital Skills Partnership and want to continue to be the voice of our members. For this, we need you to continue sharing your opportunities and challenges with us whether they relate to infrastructure, technology or people.

If there’s something you think we should be doing over the next 12 months to continue with our goal of accelerating the digital economy in Lancashire, please get in touch. 

Digital Skills Partnership Lancashire

Digital Rail

Digital Rail wins Innovate UK funding competition

Digital Rail based at InfoLab21 in Lancaster, Lancashire have been awarded £348,000 as part of the Innovate UK funding competition.

The current team has over 150 years of combined railway engineering experience and are committed to improving the 21st-century railway by using digitisation and automation. Located close to the Data Science Institute at Lancaster University they have access to thought leaders in computer science and AI.

Read the full article by clicking on the link below.

Magma Digital

Magma Digital Celebrate 20 Years

Magma Digital, software developers and Digital Lancashire members based in Chorley, Lancashire celebrated their 20th year in business this weekend. The company works with clients nationwide on technology, people, and processes and one of their founders, Jeremy Coates, is also a valued member of the Digital Lancashire board.

Previously from a clinical NHS background prior to founding Magma Digital, Jeremy strongly believes in doing the right thing the right way for customers and is committed to developing those around him both within the Magma team and externally through his Board memberships and speaking opportunities.

Talking of speaking opportunities, Jeremy will be hosting the Let’s Talk creative collaboration discussion at Society 1 in Preston later this week. Brought together in association with Digital Lancashire and Creative Lancashire, Jeremy will share his compelling story of setting up, creating and running an award-winning agency, and experiences of what it takes to grow a business to the scale of Magma. The talk will focus on why it is so important to value people on your journey in business.

Tickets are still available for the event on Thursday 11th April. Please click here to register.