Lancashire Forum Creative – 2 Day ‘Think Differently Tank’ – FREE to attend!

Following the success of UCLan’s first ever Think Differently Tank / Technology Hack, the UCLan team would like to invite you to the next one which will take place on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 October 2018.

Light breakfast will be served from 9.00 and lunch will be around 12.00. The sessions will run from 10.00 – 17.00…

We ran our first Tech Hack in July as a unique collaboration between the Lancashire Forum Creative and our colleagues in UCLan’s Media Innovation Studio. This second iteration promises to be just as fascinating, though-provoking and rewarding. It is a workshop unlike any other, incorporating future-thinking, creative problem-solving, idea and product-generation and innovative interactions between those delivering the programme and those on the programme. This event obviously takes a different approach and format to our usual half-day sessions.

To give you an idea of what a Think Differently Tank involves, please have a look at our video report of the first event.

18 October – Day 1

Inspire / Imagine / Intrigue / Infuse

Day one, sets the tone and the context for the TDT in a structured conference approach, where you will hear from researchers, designers, technologists and industry experts to explore various approaches to process, methodology, creativity, research and innovation that will insight, inspire, and intrigue, to transfer new ways of thinking into your own business/practice. We want you to interact with the team and presenters so we’ll be having presentations, question and answers followed by short exercises- where each presenter will set a task and provide resources and materials to assist in the exercise.

19 October – Day 2

Ideate / Innovate / Interact / Insight

Day two is over to you! We will follow an unconference approach, the structure will be determined from current themes we as a society face. We will dig deeper into the types of talks from the previous day, with a design thinking process, where you will begin to ideate possible solutions to these problems. You will work in teams and mentored by our experts where you will hack ideas and present back to the wider group. We have all types of materials from cardboard to computers to recyclables to Raspberry Pi’s to thinking differently to feeling differently. You will have the experience to make, create, design and discuss ideas with mentors. This session will provide an opportunity to engage, inspire, interact and upskill.’

It’s all about the process of achieving the goal and the discussions you have along the way!

Experience the journey.

Learn more and book your FREE place via Eventbrite.

Digital Manufacturing Week in Liverpool 13-16 November

Digital Manufacturing Week is taking place in Liverpool from the 13th to the 16th of November –

As part the Smart Factory Expo element there will be the opportunity for companies to pitch to 16 VC Investors who have been specially invited to the event. This is open to companies right across the NW (indeed across the UK). The link to register is

The deadline for registration is a week Monday (8 Oct) so companies will need to think about it and register quickly.  The application deadline  is then one week later (15 Oct) and doesn’t require too much work as long as they have some sort of pitch deck that they have used before.

This is a tremendous opportunity for companies seeking investment working in –

  • High Value Manufacturing
  • Advanced Materials
  • Robotics and Autonomous Systems
  • Transport and Mobility
  • Enabling and Cross Cutting Technologies (IoT, sensors, big data, modelling and simulation)

Lancashire creative agency launches local online gift voucher site Vouch

Lancaster-based award winning creative agency Hotfoot Design are set to launch Vouch this weekend, its new online gift voucher website that will allow local people to buy gift vouchers from brilliant independent businesses in the region.

The new online gift voucher website will be launched in the agency’s hometown of Lancaster at the North Lancashire Business Expo 2018, which is being held on Sunday 23rd and Monday 24th September 2018 at Lancaster Brewery.

Vouch will offer people across the region the opportunity to buy gift vouchers from local independent businesses for a range of experiences, from spa days to nights away, fine dining and brewery tours, all from one easy to use website.

Gift vouchers for Lancashire businesses, including DF Studio, the Sun Hotel & Bar, Arteria, Lancaster Brewery, Sue Shields Spa, and artisan wine provider Provino, as well as from companies in nearby counties, such as Cumbria-based Heart of the Lakes holiday cottages, will be available to purchase from the site.

Aidan Watt, technical director at Hotfoot Design, said: “We believe in supporting independent businesses that deserve to thrive. Vouch makes it easy to discover original gift voucher experiences for friends and loved ones, whilst supporting businesses in the local area. The website will be a great showcase for all the fantastic experiences we have to offer here in Lancashire and the North West. Vouch for where you live and gift local!”

The arrival of Vouch follows the successful launch of Regalo, a gift voucher platform for hospitality, luxury retail and experience businesses, by Hotfoot Design two years ago. Gift vouchers are a profitable market, with over £5.6 billion generated in gift voucher sales in the UK each year, and the revenue stream has also been shown to increase loyalty, footfall and sales.

Guy Cookson, marketing director at Hotfoot Design, commented: “The launch of Regalo two years ago was a reaction to the fact that gift vouchers are continuing to be a growing source of revenue for businesses. Vouch was the next obvious step for us. With so many fantastic businesses signing up to Regalo, particularly across Lancashire and the North West, it made sense to offer local people, and those who love visiting our wonderful region, a place where they could access gifts and experiences all in one easy to use location.”

Hotfoot will be at the North Lancashire Business Expo at Lancaster Brewery on Sunday 23rd and Monday 24th September, where businesses can discover more about Vouch and how their business can be featured.

For more information, visit Vouch.


Lancaster Uni duo win Dyson award

Two university students who have developed a ‘spinning’ turbine that can capture wind from any direction have won this year’s UK James Dyson Award.

Nicholas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani from Lancaster University have developed a method to generate electricity from wind generated by buildings in city centres.

The pair’s ‘O-Wind Turbine’ is designed to harness urban air as a source for renewable energy.

Orellana and Noorani will receive £2,000 for winning the national award to help kickstart their product development.

The international winner will be selected from hundreds of applications later this year.

Orellana, who first became interested in the challenge of multidirectional wind after studying NASA’s Mars Tumbleweed rover, says he hopes the O-Wind Turbine will improve the usability and affordability of turbines for people across the world.

He added: “Cities are windy places, but we are currently not harnessing this resource. Our belief is that making it easier to generate green energy, people will be encouraged to play a bigger role in conserving our planet.”

Sir Kenneth Grange, chair of judges, said he was “captivated” by the simplicity of the design.

“Whilst the project, is still at the beginning of a long and gruelling journey of iterations and frustrations, the James Dyson Award exists to reward young engineers with vision,” he added.

Via Business Cloud.

EKM launches Preston events space

Ecommerce website provider EKM has launched its own event space in Preston.

The site was originally built for in-house gatherings at the company’s £3.5m offices on Caxton Road. It has now launched its in-house, designer, training and presentation auditorium as a hireable facility, aimed primarily at government sector and other organisations with an interest in developing the local economy.

Founder Antony Chesworth said: “We built these facilities as a world-class productive environment for our world-class team, taking inspiration from the likes of Google and Facebook, because we want people to think of us in those terms.

“While we aim to compete with the best that Silicon Valley has to offer on a global stage, we’re fully invested in our people and our local economy.  That’s why we’ve decided to open up our event space for use by local organisations also invested in helping Lancashire to grow as a business region.”

Established in Burnley in 2002, EKM powers more than 70,000 online shops worldwide.

Via Insider Media.

eBusiness UK teams up with local property firm

Blackburn-based internet services specialist eBusiness UK has won a contract to build an online web presence and provide search marketing services for Manchester property firm Bluefig Investments.

Bluefig was established more than eight years ago by entrepreneur Faris Mousa but has so far traded solely offline, with no online representation.

The company has purchased and renovated a number of quality properties within Manchester city centre, Cheshire and London, covering both residential and commercial projects.

Now eBusiness UK have been tasked with raising the profile of Faris and his company, and will start by building two websites: a personal site to represent Faris as an entrepreneur, and a second charting Bluefig’s work within the property sector.

The web specialists will then use techniques including search engine optimisation to raise awareness in the North West and throughout the UK.

Nasir Kothia, business development director of eBusiness UK, said: “Although Faris Mousa is an established businessman and Bluefig is well-known in Manchester, the challenge is creating an online presence that reflects this.

“He’s an engaging and passionate entrepreneur and we’ve very much enjoyed working with him on this project so far, with lots more exciting ideas still in the pipeline.”

Faris Mousa said: “In our work the devil is always in the detail, we pay close attention to each and every finish from selection of floor covering through to building signage, all materials are of the highest quality.

“Choosing the right web development and search marketing team to partner with was just as important and in eBusiness UK I have found a set of experts who are friendly to deal with, understand my values and have a proven track record of quality work.”

Could place-based innovation strategies use design to accelerate local growth?

The Design Council’s latest report, Design Economy 2018, aims to demonstrate and measure the impact of design as a driver for growth and innovation to create significant value for the UK economy.

Findings from the report reveal a link between firms’ investment in design and their investment in R&D, which leads to innovation and the creation of value.

The report reveals a positive correlation between integration of design and a firm’s propensity for innovation.


Companies urged to submit aerospace projects

Companies have been urged to submit projects to potentially secure a share of funding to help keep the UK at the cutting edge of the global civil aerospace industry.

The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK will invest up to £150m in innovative aerospace projects this year.

The funding is part of a £3.9bn joint investment between government and industry and run by the ATI. Investments will be made in projects that promote competition and innovation in the aerospace sector.

Projects are sought that will strengthen the UK’s capability in whole-aircraft design and system integration; develop advanced, connected aircraft systems technologies; make the UK a global leader in the development of large complex structures; and advance more efficient, next-generation propulsion technologies.

Bidders are also asked to demonstrate how their project would provide value for money, create benefits in jobs and training, and their potential within the industry.

Companies have been invited to submit ideas for projects, with successful applicants able to apply for funding in the next stage of the competition.

Via Insider Media.

Digital Lancashire Chair calls for more investment in UK’s “lost towns”

The UK will never punch its weight on the world’s tech stage without proper investment in the country’s “lost towns”.

That’s the view of Michael Gibson, chair of Digital Lancashire and founder and managing director of Lancaster-based AI specialist Miralis Data.

The tech veteran says that fast-growing start-ups in the regions often have no choice but to relocate to a major city because of a lack of suitable office space.

Gibson said the result was the UK was producing a long line of “lost towns” which were in danger of not meeting their full potential.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the Northern Powerhouse and the region is blessed with big cities like Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.

“If a property company opened a tech building in Manchester they would probably charge £26 sq ft but the same space would probably cost £10 sq ft in one of the smaller towns so there’s no incentive for developers  to build there.

“What this means is that while there’s no shortage of tech talent in these towns there is a dire shortage of space so scale-ups often have to leave. If we don’t reverse that investment we’re in danger of producing a legacy of lost towns.”

Gibson said  clustering made sense for like-minded tech businesses and highlighted the example of Auto Trader, TalkTalk and AO that all left smaller towns to move to Manchester.

“Smaller cities and towns are seeing high-skilled, high-wage companies leave and are doing very little to understand why and how to retain and grow a local tech cluster,” he said.

Last week Miralis Data was included in BusinessCloud’s list of 51 Artificial Intelligence Innovators.

Gibson said Miralis Data, which employs 10 people and is approaching £1 million turnover,  benefited from its close links to Lancaster University but admitted there was a long waiting list for suitable office space in the town.

“Companies are queuing to get into limited spaces but the existing companies in these spaces have nowhere else to go so you have a blockage,” he said.

Gibson said local councils, universities and local enterprise partnerships could borrow money “phenomenally cheaply” and if that was invested into improving buildings and infrastructure the result would be the creation of tech clusters.

Gibson sold digital marketing company Fat Media for an undisclosed seven figure sum in 2014 and admits its Lancashire location put some potential buyers off.

“We had an amazing portfolio of national clients but if we’d been based in Manchester the deal multiple would have been higher,” he said.

“However a lot of people don’t want to work in a big city and they lose sight of the fact that we’re only two-and-a-half hours away from London.”

His new company, Miralis Data, is now in the process of acquiring a software business in Wales and is working on six different projects.

“The thing with AI is if just one of those projects takes off it’s easier to scale quickly and if that happens we’re going to need some larger office space,” he said.

Via Business Cloud.

Lancaster University win for Wash

Wash has been appointed by Lancaster University to create its 2020 campaign.

The Preston-based agency will be responsible for designing and producing a range of marketing materials, including the prospectus, exhibition, open day and digital.

Wash have truly grasped the essence of Lancaster University and how we can portray this to prospective students – we are excited to see the new campaign come to life,” said Heather Ellis, head of marketing at Lancaster University.

The campaign will be based on the concept of it being the “place for you” and underlining its “University of the Year 2018” status in The Sunday Times.

Via Prolific North.