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DIGIT Deal Roundup Column | October 2020

David Paul

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Deal Roundup

The October 2020 edition of DIGIT’s Deal Roundup column has funding, investment and business deal news from Inoapps, CENSIS, OnePatch, METALtech UK and Flick

Investment and Funding

METALtech UK

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A metal fabrication SME METALtech UK was announced as the 100th recipient of the Scottish Government’s Digit Development Fund in October.

The Dundee-headquartered company is the latest in a line of firms to benefit from the fund which offers companies 0% interest rate loans of up to £100,000 to invest in improving their digital capabilities, capacity and digital skills.

METALtech UK says the money will go towards the purchase of new equipment, including a CNC Plasma Cutting Machine which will allow for previously outsourced profile cutting to be completed in-house.

As well as this, the firm says that increased and improved digital skills will also result from the training provided on the new equipment.

Wattie Milne, Managing Director at METALtech UK, said: “Accessing the Digital Development Loan fund allows us to invest directly into new technology and training which will mean that we are capable of undertaking larger contracts than before and also to process more complex projects which in the past, we have sub-contracted outside the business.

“The new equipment’s digital capabilities allow our skilled staff to monitor more real-time production and processing data, programme it to undertake more complex projects and improve efficiencies.

“As a result, it will have a significant impact on the whole business and is part of our overall growth strategy.”

Kate Forbes, Cabinet Secretary for Finance Scottish Government, commented: “I am delighted to share that the Digital Development Loan has recently awarded its 100th loan to METALtech UK Ltd.

“The funding will go towards the purchase of a CNC Plasma Cutting Machine which will increase output by 50%. The pandemic has highlighted the importance for businesses to harness the opportunities for digital technologies to drive productivity, support growth and increase resilience.

“SMEs are the backbone of our economy and every business is in some way a digital business, which is why the Scottish Government is committed to supporting businesses to improve their digital capabilities.

“I am pleased to support the Digital Development Loan, offering loans between £5k – £100k which helps businesses invest in their digital capabilities, their workforce and their future.”

For the full story, click here.


Phlo

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Glasgow-based digital pharmacy Phlo says it can now embark on a “substantial period of growth and expansion” after smashing through its crowdfunding target.

After reaching £1.65 million on the first day, the firm said it plans to extend its Crowdcube campaign due to the high levels of demand, particularly during the Covid-19 crisis.

Phlo says the funding will help support the scaling up of the on-demand, same-day delivery service. There will also be a further investment to implement and develop new features and technologies as well as a significant recruitment drive.

From October 2019, demand and patient numbers have been growing consistently, but in the period since Covid-19 became a significant public health issue, growth has “exceeded all expectations,” Phlo said.

Since the start of 2020, Phlo has seen a 73% growth in average MOM revenue, a 43% growth in average MOM patient numbers and a 93% uplift in staff numbers.

Commenting on the crowdfund and expansion plans, founder and CEO of Phlo, Nadeem Sarwar, said: “The response we’ve received to the crowdfunding has been incredible and I’d like to say a massive thank you to all those who are investing and in particular those who have supported us from the start.

“Last-generation online pharmacy services have been around for a while, but what we’re doing at Phlo is innovative, and given the current environment, we would anticipate demand growing consistently.

“There will, of course, always be a place for bricks and mortar pharmacies, but whether you are working from home or in an office, the convenience of on-demand delivery is becoming the norm, and what consumers expect.

“I am also proud that we’re able to provide high-quality jobs in Glasgow and across the UK, and we are determined to play our part in the economic recovery.”

Phlo says it intends to launch its service outside of London in Birmingham later this year with plans to expand into five cities over the next two years.

For the full story, click here.


OnePatch

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Glasgow-based tech startup OnePatch hopes to benefit from a rise in internet retail activity during the coronavirus lockdown and increase its user numbers by 1000%.

The company, which creates a solution to the growth and management of multi-channel e-commerce businesses, aims to have 500 users by the beginning of 2021. This figure will embed long-term sustainability.

OnePatch also plans to increase its sales force by a factor of five in the short term as well as boosting the merchandising capabilities of its operation in India, where it has a strong and established development team. It currently has eight staff in its Scottish HQ.

It recently doubled its HQ capacity by moving into new premises on the south side of Glasgow.

After a soft launch in 2019, OnePatch went into full operation in February this year. The company believes it is the only offering of its kind in Scotland and one of only a handful of similar companies in the UK, the US and Australia.

Chief Financial Officer Brendan Dunne, who owns the company along with his brother, CEO Richard, said: “The name OnePatch derives from a computer patch panel which collects everything into the one location.

“That essentially is what our offering does, connecting online retailers’ sales channels, product listings, accounts package, inventory management and shipping couriers into one easy-to-use system.”

OnePatch’s Indian business arose from a long-term collaboration with Calcutta-based development expert Miguel Khan, who has now established a base in the sub-continent that employs nine developers and two merchandising staff.

Dunne said: “While our focus at the moment is on growth within the UK, there is huge potential in India, which has a population approaching 1.4 billion and in Indonesia, with 273 million people.

“Online commerce is really taking off in these regions and we plan to increase the Calcutta sales team to at least 10 in the short term to make sure we are well placed to take advantage of the opportunities which are arising.”

For the full story, click here.


Calnex Solutions

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Telecoms firm Calnex Solutions has secured £3m of funding from Barclays, which it will use to drive growth and make new acquisitions.

The revolving credit facility will give the Linlithgow-based company access to the fund’s needed to support its research and development (R&D) work and fund future development.

Currently, the firms’ future growth strategy focuses on investing in both business and R&D. Calnex is looking to acquire technologies or businesses that complement its existing products. It also aims to repay its existing debt facility.

In early October, Calnex became the first Scottish IPO in two years when it listed on the Alternative Investment Market. The placing raised £22.5m, £6m of which has been earmarked to support growth plans, bolstered by the Barclays deal.

Calnex previously said that the offering was “significantly oversubscribed” after it received significant support from institutional investors.

In addition to the funding package, Calnex has moved its full operational banking facilities to Barclays.

Calnex CEO Tommy Cook said: “We are in an exciting period of growth and development for the business and we needed a banking partner supportive of our ambitions. Like many technology-based sectors, the telecommunications industry is seeing fast-paced change and a wealth of innovation. Our deal with Barclays offers us flexible access to capital to take advantage of opportunities like acquisitions that will help us grow our market share.”

Head of Corporate Banking for Barclays in Scotland Jamie Grant said: “As the first UK bank to have a dedicated technology, media and telecoms team, we have a track record in supporting ambitious businesses like Calnex.

“The management team has grown a successful global operation headquartered in Scotland and has a clear plan to further expand market share and increase investment in developing new technology. We worked with Calnex to deliver a funding solution that would enable the company to be agile about growth opportunities.”

For the full story, click here.


CityFibre

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Broadband infrastructure firm CityFibre has begun plans to extend its current network in Dundee as part of a £40m private investment.

CityFibre’s construction work aims to get full-fibre into almost every home and business across the area, providing a boost to connectivity in the city.

The company says Dundee will “benefit from the state-of-the-art full-fibre network roll-out,” which, according to research from economic consultancy Regeneris, will have a “major impact in Dundee over the next 15 years”.

The research indicates that installation of full-fibre city-wide could add up to £27m to the value of local homes, while Smart City initiatives could add as much as £32m locally.

Access to the network could also unlock £30m in “business productivity and innovation,” while a further £13m in growth could be driven from new business start-ups, with enhanced connectivity making it easier and less expensive to set up base and run efficiently.

Commenting on the roll-out, CityFibre’s City Manager for Dundee, Allan McEwan, said: “For people across Dundee, their digital future is just around the corner. Work is now underway and that is something to be celebrated.

“Full Fibre broadband will help households access all the latest entertainment at lightning speed, but the benefits are far deeper than that – from enabling smart home technology to giving people the freedom to work from home with ease.

“The investment also comes at a critical time for Dundee’s business community. Next-generation full-fibre connectivity can drive innovation and productivity, ultimately giving businesses the platform they need to realise their growth ambitions. And it won’t just improve business locally – it will also help businesses take their products or services to an international audience.”

CityFibre says construction has already begun in the Lochee area of the city, with contractor GCU UK carrying out the work.

Alison Henderson, Chief Executive of Dundee & Angus Chamber of Commerce, said: “Investment in infrastructure is hugely important in enabling Dundee to move forward.

“As we have seen in 2020, many more people are working from home and that flexibility in working habits is definitely going to be adopted as a way forward. Home and workplace broadband speeds coupled with network resilience and good connectivity remain vital features in giving everyone choice.

“We’re very pleased to see this investment which will future-proof Dundee and allow businesses to improve productivity, invest in their own technology and equip people with the right tools to do their jobs, now and in the coming years.”

For the full story, click here.


Hearing Diagnostics

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Scottish angel investment syndicate Archangels has invested £715,000 in Edinburgh-based startup Hearing Diagnostics Ltd to help it develop its hearing test system.

The company will use the funds to trial its system with universities and hearing aid retailers in the UK with a view to full market launch in 2021.

Hearing Diagnostics Co-founder and Chief Executive Claudia Freigang said: “Our vision is for hearing tests to become as accessible and commonplace as eye tests to ensure that everyone with hearing loss receives care at the earliest possible opportunity.

“Investment by Archangels brings us a huge step towards achieving our vision and we are excited to work with such a highly experienced and supportive group of investors.”

Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Hearing Diagnostics Colin Horne commented: “As humans, we have the remarkable ability to pinpoint with precision accuracy the exact location of heard sounds, something which should make testing whether a sound was heard a trivially easy task.

“However, to date, there has never been a testing technology that can deliver highly accurate screening at low cost. I’m thrilled that with this investment from Archangels, we’re now in a position to change this and realise a paradigm-shifting new product.”

Joint Managing Director at Archangels Niki McKenzie said: “Hearing loss is a condition that is experienced across the world and yet the technology around hearing tests has barely changed in recent years.

“Hearing Diagnostics appears to have invented a low cost, accurate and accessible test that will help hearing aid retailers identify customers who need support with their hearing quickly and cost-effectively.”

For the full story, click here.


Flick

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Flick, the latest venture from FanDuel founders Nigel Eccles and Rob Jones, has completed a $5 million Series A funding round.

Led by AlleyCorp, the latest investment round brings the company’s total funding to $9 million and will fuel an extended period of growth.

Founded by Eccles and Jones in 2018, Flick is a live group chat platform for sports influencers and their fans. The company was launched in early 2018 following the duo’s departure from FanDuel.

Flick says its chat platform allows influencers to “authentically engage” with fans during live games and provides them with a forum to foster a “loyal and engaged fan-base with their own branded space”.

The platform is currently used in over 180 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and India.

Eccles, who serves as chief executive at the firm, described Flick as the “future of sports entertainment” and outlined the company’s long-term plans.

“With the new round of funding, the company plans to expand its team, integrate with sports betting, and build out the platform across multiple sports and geographies,” he said.

“In the last two years, sports betting has exploded in the U.S. However, unlike off-line betting, online sports remains quite a solitary and transactional experience.

“Betting on a sports betting app is about as much fun as paying a bill with your banking app. With our expansion into sports betting we plan to change that,” Eccles added.

Jones said the funding has come at a time of rapid growth for the company. Since May and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the company has seen a “significant uptick” in its user base, which has grown 45% month-on-month.

“The pandemic has caused a disconnect and people are seeking ways to be part of a community – specifically in the sports world where fans are no longer able to banter with their friends and other fans in person or attend live games,” he said.

In addition to the raise, Kevin Ryan, Founder & CEO at AlleyCorp, will join Flick’s board of directors.

“It is rare in venture to find people like Nigel and Rob who are such proven entrepreneurs with deep experience and expertise in the market they are addressing,” said Ryan.

“We are excited to join them as they build out the company.”

For the full story, click here.


Better Origin

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Better Origin secured government funding to scale a cutting-edge insect processing platform in October.

A £10 million funding package from the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) will help to scale the insect bioconversion sector, accelerating the transition to sustainable methods of farming.

The firm will use the funding to focus on scaling their insect processing and value extraction technology to convert insects into products such as animal feed and human food. A result of years of research and development, their patented ‘Metamorphosis Technology’, which processes insects into different products, represents the most cost-effective, tailored processing line developed to date.

Fotis Fotiadis, founder and CEO of Better Origin, says: “Farming the insect is proven to be pretty straightforward – however, the real value comes from converting the farmed insect into products.”

“Over the last three years, we have developed a solution, which can convert the full-grown insect into ingredients for salmon feed, pet feed and human food in a sustainable and scalable way.

“This funding represents the single largest investment by the UK into the insect protein space and we are delighted to be a recipient. It will enable us to accelerate our product development, deploy the first dedicated insect processing facility in the UK, and expand rapidly to the rest of the world.”

Simon MacKenzie, Deputy Head at the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling, says: “We’ve been working with Better Origin since 2018, successfully testing their Metamorphosis Technology to highlight the potential for insects in salmon aquaculture. This opportunity allows us to bring this state-of-the-art technology to the market.”


Inoapps

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Award-winning global Oracle Platinum Partner Inoapps grew its public sector business after securing more than £12m in new revenue from local authorities and other public bodies throughout the UK.

Aberdeen-headquartered Inoapps, one of the UK’s largest independent Oracle consultancy firms, is appointed to the government’s G-Cloud framework, which allows UK public sector bodies to procure cloud computing services from a preferred supplier.

Following development of its public sector offering, utilising Oracle Best Practice and its specialised implementation methodology, the company has supported a growing list of new clients including the Housing Ombudsman, Office of Rail & Road and the London borough authorities of Newham, Havering and Thurrock.

The increase in work for public bodies is a result of mounting pressure from government to pursue a Cloud First strategy, with a growing number of organisations opting for transformational Oracle Cloud projects implemented by Inoapps and supported by the business’s highly regarded change management services.

Inoapps UK Managing Director Phil Burgess said: “As an important strand of our business, we are very pleased to see our presence within the public sector continue to go from strength to strength. We have built a superior reputation for customer service and delivery quality and are beginning to see a sharp rise in revenue on the back of significant investment in our team and Change Management practice.

“During this period of economic turbulence, we are delighted to be supporting public sector organisations in making their journey to the cloud where they can further enhance efficiency to deliver service excellence and ensure resilience for the future.”


Deals and Partnerships

Converged

deal roundup

Scottish IT and cyber security company Converged Communication Solutions has gained supplier status in the latest version of the UK Government’s public sector G-Cloud initiative, G-Cloud 12.

This is the second consecutive year in which the Aberdeen-headquartered company has achieved supplier status in the G-Cloud framework. The initiative is designed to support public sector organisations in upgrading IT systems to the latest cloud computing services and strengthening cyber security systems by easing the procurement process.

Operated by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), an executive agency and trading fund of the Cabinet Office of the UK Government, the G-Cloud 12 framework is an agreement between the government and suppliers of cloud IT services. Inclusion in the framework allows Converged to supply cloud support services to public sector organisations throughout the UK via the government’s digital marketplace, an approved online supplier directory.

As the suppliers have been thoroughly vetted, the G-Cloud initiative enables public sector organisations – including central, regional and local governments, educational establishments, housing associations, NHS trusts, and police forces and emergency services – to find, compare and purchase services without running a full tender or procurement process. This means that acquiring services through the framework is more efficient for the purchasing organisation.

Under the terms of the framework Converged can supply cloud support services, which come within Lot 3 of the scheme. This includes CyberEssentials Plus and IASME Gold guidance and assessment, cyber awareness training, bespoke phishing campaigns, vulnerability scanning and penetration testing, firewall and networking, and back-up and disaster recovery.

Robbie Ross, chief security officer with Converged, said: “We are very pleased to continue to support the public sector with our extensive cyber security solutions, which are designed to mitigate risk to cloud services. Cyber security continues to be a major issue within all organisations, and it is good to see its importance being emphasised as part of G-Cloud 12.

“We are exceptionally proud of our continued inclusion on the G-Cloud framework as it demonstrates the high standards we uphold and our proven expertise in the cloud security arena. Our dedicated cyber team, in-house qualified engineers, CyberEssentials and IASME experts look forward to building new partnerships through the G-Cloud 12 framework.”


CGI and Scottish Borders Council

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CGI has signed an extension to its contract with Scottish Borders Council which will see the global IT and business consulting services company continue as the local authority’s primary provider of end-to-end managed IT services until 2040.

The extension, one of the longest in CGI’s history, gives the company and Scottish Borders Council the opportunity to work together in a long term partnership to help the Scottish Borders realise its vision of becoming the UK’s first Smart Rural Region.

CGI will open a new office in Tweedbank in 2021, which will be a centre of excellence and through the partnership establish an international reference site in connected communities.

CGI and Scottish Borders Council will work to create a smart, connected rural region, which will digitally connect all Borders communities, supporting innovation, empowering a flexible workforce, advancing truly integrated partnership working, and providing solutions to allow greener, low carbon ways for a sustainable future. They will do so by advancing cutting-edge digital systems and processes for all the Borders’ citizens and employees in key areas such as social care, health, its world-class education IT programs, employment, the environment and sustainability.

Cllr Shona Haslam, Leader of Scottish Borders Council, said: “Scottish Borders Council is delighted to extend CGI’s contract until 2040. This extension shows the trust we have in CGI as a valuable strategic partner, sharing our long-term commitment to providing cutting-edge digital solutions to improve our public services, benefiting the council, our community planning partners and our citizens.

“Together we aim to make the Borders the most technologically advanced rural area in the UK. Beginning with our Fit for 2024 transformation programme, we will ensure the Borders is in the best shape to meet future challenges, attract new business to the region, take advantage of new opportunities and deliver the best possible outcomes for our communities.”

Lindsay McGranaghan, Vice President and Business Unit Leader for Scotland said: “With the support of CGI, the Scottish Borders has already made significant progress in becoming the most technologically advanced rural area in the UK and also Europe.

“We at CGI are delighted to be continuing this journey with them to becoming a Smart Rural Region. Together our vision will enhance the council’s relationship with its citizens, bringing cutting edge digital solutions to provide real benefits to citizens and meet the demands of 21st century living.”


CENSIS

CENSIS has announced a new partnership with Scottish Engineering to create 40 internship opportunities for engineering students.

As part of the collaboration, the two organisations will work with e-Placement Scotland to identify work experience opportunities for students at Scottish universities and colleges, which are set to take place next summer.

The partnership marks the first-time e-Placement Scotland has opened up opportunities in the engineering sector as it looks to benefit from CENSIS and Scottish Engineering’s business networks and industry expertise.

By connecting students with potential employers, e-Placement Scotland, CENSIS and Scottish Engineering hope to develop students’ employability skills.

Commenting on the partnership, CENSIS Chief Executive Paul Winstanley said: “The employment market has changed rapidly over the last six months and real-world experience like this can help students to navigate the challenges of recruitment.

“Internships play an important, intermediate role in helping students find employment, especially in technical areas, and can be a fantastic tool for employers to source the best new talent.”

Winstanley added: “We hope that, by speaking to companies in Scotland’s manufacturing and engineering sectors about this programme, employers will consider placements as part of a longer-term talent strategy, ultimately making it easier for students to access such valuable opportunities.”

CENSIS and Scottish Engineering said they are keen to hear from any businesses that could support a student placement during summer 2021.

Paul Sheerin, CEO of Scottish Engineering, said: “It’s long been a reality that work experience is the differentiating factor for graduates to ensure employment on graduating; yet, availability of placements is not always transparent to all who seek them.

“These opportunities are a fantastic way for an employer to gain early access to untapped talent, and for students to develop the skills employers want, creating more desirable candidates for future employment. We look forward to sharing this with both members and our wider engineering community to allow these connections for the future to be made.”

For the full story, click here.


Heriot-Watt University and Filament PD

Heriot-Watt University has announced a partnership with product development agency Filament PD on a strategy to work on economic recovery in Scotland post-Covid-19.

The University’s Global Research Innovation and Discovery (GRID) facility will combine its entrepreneurial talent with Filament PD’s experience to help scale businesses capable of competing at a global level.

With a focus on open-ended, multidisciplinary education and support, the partnership expects to drive investment, improve route-to-market for new technologies and boost Scotland’s international reputation for design.

The partnership will also run programmes designed to upskill students, boosting job opportunities, and sparking future entrepreneurship.

Paul Devlin, Head of Commercialisation at Heriot-Watt University, said: “Scotland has a proud history of invention, coupled with a prosperous startup culture.

“Our partnership with Filament PD will connect people, ideas and skills in order to develop commercial products that not only compete but lead the market. This underpins the value we place on our students working on real-world problems, collaborating across disciplines to deliver practical solutions with global impact, as well as our academics and existing industry partnerships.

“Collaboration and the sharing of expertise generates stronger opportunities for R&D funding and, by working together, we can support high calibre, industry-ready graduates while securing investment to help grow and scale successful businesses.”

Gregor Aikman, co-founder and managing director of Filament PD, said: “By collaborating in this way, we can ensure we have the collective skills and knowledge to develop, and most importantly retain, intellectual property in Scotland – ultimately driving domestic employment, revenue and exports. In the current climate, this is even more important as restrictions tighten once again.

“By working with the network of students, academics, start-ups and scale-ups at GRID to progress ideas right through to product delivery, we can improve speed-to-market, therefore winning valuable commercial advantage over global competitors and boosting Scotland’s success and reputation further.

“GRID has a unique mix of disciplines which includes computer game modelling, engineering and electronics. As a world leader in academic and entrepreneurial excellence, GRID features the latest in technological innovation, and we were particularly drawn to its augmented reality and virtual reality capabilities.”

For the full story, click here.


Lloyds Bank and FinTech Scotland.

Lloyds Banking Group and FinTech Scotland have signed a deal to create a new fintech innovation incubator, the Launch Innovation Lab.

The project will see Lloyds working with 12 companies over 12 weeks and will provide support and clinics along with opportunities for startups to pitch to a range of sponsors. The incubator aims to create ready to go proof of concepts in partnership with Lloyds Banking Group.

Lloyds Banking Group Innovation Product Owner David McLeay said: “The market is ripe for disruption in my view,” McLeay said. “We have an environment where customers’ needs are changing and in parallel, there are a lot of significant new technologies opening up opportunities”

The 12-week Launch Innovation Lab will be divided into two periods. The exploration phase will see 12 fintechs chosen from among all the project’s applicants. They will work with Lloyds to understand the banks strategic challenges, and for the bank to understand the companies and help them develop proposals.

“Together, we’ll work on a proof of concept framework that explains the hypothesis, how we’re going to measure and test the hypothesis, what the key success factors are, and what a future road map could look like,” McLeay explained.

At the end of the exploration phase, the 12 companies will pitch their ideas, with six companies going on to the craft phase.

“We’ll do a more involved process with an additional layer of internal expertise. We will bring in DevOps, infrastructure engineers, coders, UX design people, risk, legal, sourcing expertise – everybody needed to flesh out the idea and create a proof of concept experiment that we can pick up and run with in 2021.”

To end the programme, the start-ups will take part in an internal showcase with Lloyds Banking Group staff as well as an industry-focused event.

“With this programme, there’s a whole section of activities that are for the fintechs to get something out of Lloyds Banking Group. We’re going to offer classes and surgeries where they can talk to technical architects and cloud infrastructure experts, talk to our risk teams, talk to our finance guys, speak to our design experts, our systems thinkers, our UXers, our corporate finance team – anyone that can help their business develop.

“As a big bank, we have a lot of people in a number of highly specialist roles, and we’re good at a number of big bank functions. However, we accept we’re not as agile, fast and reactive as some of the start-ups at certain things. We want to create an environment where both parties can mutually benefit from the relationship.”

For the full story, click here.


Microsoft and SpaceX

A new deal between will see Microsoft connect its Azure cloud computing services to SpaceX’s Starlink network of satellites.

Under the deal, Starlink’s low-latency satellite broadband network will provide Azure data centres with the means to communicate with computers around the globe, helping bring cloud computing to remote locations.

“The collaboration that we’re announcing today will allow us to work together to deliver new offerings for both the public and the private sector to deliver connectivity through Starlink for use on Azure,” SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell said in a video.

The move comes as Microsoft unveils a series of ventures aimed at providing cloud services in space. The company recently created a new business unit, Azure Space. The new venture aims to gather and interpret satellite data as well as provide global satellite networking capabilities.

In addition, the tech giant has also launched Azure Orbital, a service that provides customers with the use of the company’s satellite ground stations, connecting satellites directly to the cloud.

“The space community is growing rapidly and innovation is lowering the barriers of access for public- and private-sector organisations,” said Azure Global Corporate Vice President Tom Keane in a company statement.

“With Azure Space, we have the ambition to make space connectivity and compute increasingly attainable across industries including agriculture, energy, telecommunications, and government.”

The Starlink network of 800 satellites currently only covers a fraction of the world’s surface. Once complete, SpaceX expects the network will be made up of around 12,000 satellites. The project is currently being beta-tested in the US state of Washington, with an expansion planned for the Northern US and Southern Canada.

For the full story, click here.


Vistalworks and Lithuania’s GovTech Lab

A technology startup from Edinburgh has signed a deal with the Government of Lithuania to help them fight illegal trading practices online.

Vistalworks will work alongside Lithuania’s GovTech Lab, which works to help the Baltic State combat online harms, particularly the illicit trade of goods.

The firm’s search engine plugin will be used to scan a website before a consumer makes a purchase, informing them whether the product they are buying has been traded illegally.

Vistalworks is carrying out the partnership with funding from the ‘Scotland CAN DO Innovation Challenge Fund’, which includes support from the Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Funding Council, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The funding aims to help firms to create innovative products and supports public bodies in Scotland with up to 100% of funding for projects.

With the new deal, Vistalworks hopes to expand its search engine scanner to other countries and agencies worldwide to help the fight against illegal online trading practices.

Founder and chief executive of Vistalworks, Vicky Brock, commented: “We are hugely excited to be working on this project with GovTech Lab in Lithuania.

“Vistalworks has developed a really powerful intelligence service that lets enforcement agencies conduct risk-based targeting of illegal online sellers, as well as illicit goods.

“This work will result in a fully-translated and localised intelligence product, which could then be extended to other governments, enforcement agencies and consumer protection organisations across Europe.

“We already have a great international team here in Scotland, which is a testament to the brilliant universities and graduates the country has.

“Ultimately, illicit trade is a global, cross-border problem and we’ve always recognised that we need to build an internationally-focused solution to help governments tackle it.

“Scotland CAN DO Innovation Challenge Fund provided great support through this process, and we are very grateful to them for that.”

The company has already developed online tools available on eBay to halt the spread of fake Covid-19 products including testing kits, illicit homemade sanitiser, and ‘miracle’ cures.

For the full story, click here.


M Group Services and IDSystems

M Group Services (‘the Group’), a leading provider of services to essential infrastructure markets in the UK, announced the acquisition of IDSystems on the 14 October 2020.

IDS is an integrated mechanical, electrical, instrumentation, control, automation, and telemetry (MEICAT) specialist business with around 100 employees that provides design, project management, commissioning, repair and maintenance services to water and wastewater infrastructure and other adjacent markets.

IDS’ client base includes Scottish Water, and its alliance delivery partners as well as other water companies and industrial and commercial organisations across the UK.

As the latest addition to the growing number of businesses forming M Group Services, IDS will retain its brand identity and will form part of the Group’s current Utilities Division before transitioning into the new, dedicated Water Division in April 2021.

M Group Services Chief Executive Jim Arnold commented: “Strategic acquisitions are a core part of our strategy as we continue to enhance the scope of capability across our sector-focused divisions. IDS has earned a strong reputation within the water sector through its longstanding relationships with their key clients such as Scottish Water along with its innovative product development and off-site manufacturing capability.

“This acquisition broadens the complementary, specialist services delivered by the Group in this sector and we look forward to supporting the IDS management team as they look to consolidate the Company’s leading market reputation and embark on the next stage of their strategic growth plans.”

Iain Doherty, Managing Director of IDS said, “We are absolutely delighted to be aligning ourselves with M Group Services. Their understanding of our vision has been supported through the whole process and my fellow directors and I truly believe, with their sector knowledge, wide geographic footprint and professionalism our controlled sustainable, growth plan will be greatly enhanced”.

The acquisition of IDS takes the total number of acquisitions made by M Group Services to 11 since December 2016. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.


Aberdeen Cyber Security and ResQ IT

IT firm Aberdeen Cyber Security announced the purchase of a local IT support company ResQ IT In October.

The acquisition allows Aberdeen Cyber Security to expand further with an increase in expertise, market reach and headcount. The acquisition process took nine months, and the deal was signed in September 2020.

Dale Sutherland, Director of Aberdeen Cyber Security, commented: “This is an incredibly exciting stage in our business. This time last year it was just myself working in the business. In February of this year, we took our first engineer and we are now a team of four. It’s outstanding and I’m grateful for everyone who has made this possible.”

ResQ IT staff are being retained and moved across to Aberdeen Cyber Security which now takes the headcount to four with added expertise in cyber security, cloud infrastructure, systems and networking.

Furthermore, the acquisition has allowed Aberdeen Cyber Security to gain a London-based shipbroking firm as a highly valued client.

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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