Win up to £30k of R&D expertise to develop your product

Have you got an idea for a brilliant gadget? Budding inventors are being offered £30,000 worth of Research & Development expertise to get their products to market – but they need to act fast.

There is just a week to go until entries close on 5 November for the Morgan Innovation & Technology Prize.

It will go to the entry with real commercial potential to change people’s lives for the better.

First prize is £30,000 of R&D expertise from a team of invention specialists who will help the winner develop their amazing idea. Second prize is R&D to the value of £10,000.

The prize was launched this year by Morgan Innovation & Technology (MIAT) to celebrate its 30th Anniversary. The family-run company based in Petersfield, Hampshire, designs, develops and manufactures new products and invests 20% of its turnover every year into helping inventors turn their ideas into reality.

Funding for new products

CEO Nigel Clarke said: “We know from our own experiences that practical help and support can often be more valuable to an early stage inventor than cash, so we decided the prize should be made up of R&D and manufacturing services to ensure we deliver a tangible benefit to the winner.”

Entries will be judged by TV presenter Jon Bentley of Gadget Show fame. He said: “I’m excited to help judge an award that fosters innovation and harnesses creativity to generate ground-breaking visionary products.”

Entry to the Morgan Innovation & Technology Prize 2017 is free, for more info visit www.miatprize.co.uk. The winners will be announced in January.

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Business Insights: AC-DC Power Supplies Providing the Power to Heal

Few industries have witnessed the level of expanse and innovation seen by the medical industry over the course of the past 50-70 years or so. However, arguably, the greatest advancement and progress has been seen in the past decade, with shifts in demographics globally forcing healthcare standards higher; especially in developing countries.

How Have Demographics Changed?

In the Western nations, or developed countries, as they are known, we’re currently in the midst of a demographic change that is seeing the population age rapidly. For example, according to World Bank data, the average life expectancy in the UK has risen to 81.6 years, with life expectancy in the USA rising to 78.74 years, and 83.84 years in Japan.

An ageing population puts a greater strain on the healthcare industry, as more people need to use the services for longer. This forces healthcare services to react, pushing standards higher as providers seek to react to a growing demand without increasing waiting times, costs or lowering standards.

Across the world, life expectancy from birth has increased by almost 20 years over the past 50 years, which has definitely given citizens food for thought when growing a business around a young family. In the developing world, falling mortality rates in Africa also place a greater strain on healthcare providers who must work in challenging conditions. Again, the increasing life expectancy shows us the positive effects of these changes to the healthcare industry, but how are these achieved?

How Has Healthcare Responded to these Challenges?

Healthcare providers have begun to understand their position and importance in the value chain. As a result, each provider and engineer has begun to differentiate their products within the marketplace in a response to supply and demand criteria as well as market pressures in such a dynamic environment.

One way that many companies have done this is through embracing the technology behind AC-DC power supplies. This technology allows medical supplies to be sufficiently optimised, providing greater power and quality, while more than meeting lifecycle requirements and regulatory frameworks. In particular, it allows for the generation of smaller, lighter products, which is essential in an industry where time is of the essence.

Overall, this AC-DC technology can be used for home patient care, laboratory testing such as chemical analysis, the monitoring of patients with ECGs and EEGs, and diagnostic tests, including blood analysis, scanning and medical imagine. The possibilities are endless thanks to the introduction of new AC-DC based technologies which allow people to work smarter, faster.

To conclude, changing demographics across the world lead to new challenges in the medical industry. However, thanks to advancements in technology, particularly AC-DC power supplies, companies have responded well. If you’re looking for further business advice please check out my other content here.

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How Jobs Roles Have Changed Over Time

The business world is ever changing, meaning roles are constantly adapting to the stresses of life in a business. As the economy is constantly making changes, either forward or back, it’s important for business’ to see what’s best for them. As well as the economy changing, business laws are too. There are stricter laws against things such as gender equality, working hours and holidays and even making the hiring process fair.

One area  that’s changing is pay rates. Across the country minimum wages have gone up, and there are plans for it to be on the rise again shortly. It currently stands that from April 2016, adults over the age of 25 will be legally entitled to £7.20 an hour, which is even now due to rise to. As well as the legal pay rise, it has also become rather common for bosses to give random incentives to help encourage their employees to do better. Some offer this in the form of money bonuses, and some choice to send their employees on team building days or just fun days out. This benefits both employer and employee, having someone tell you you’re doing a good job, and then giving you something back really does boost morale. Not so long ago this would have been a much rarer occurrence.

One of the major things that people have fought for over the years is gender equality. All over the world, women were struggling to be recognised as equals in the world of business. In roles such as the army, construction, and aviation etc. Women are still trying to lose the stigma of being lesser than me in the role. But, business’ are now under so much pressure to be seen as displaying gender equality, hiring processes have changed and more doors have been opened. It was only a matter of time before this happened, there’s so much pressure from the general public and social media, it’s hard to ignore what’s needed to be done.

One final thing that’s changed is the legalities of how jobs are done. There’s a lot more paperwork to be done, and policies in place to make sure everything is done correctly. There are so many areas that people could fine a business, that they can’t really afford to do things by halves. For example, in the world of construction, people used to walk in and out of a site with no CSCS card, no real safety equipment and it’d be fine. Deals were also done with no real paper work completed, and when the job wouldn’t be finished on time, or correctly, it would leave construction dispute solicitors trying to sort the mess out. But now, pretty much any job role can’t be started without some form of contract, no matter what the business is. It helps keeps both the company, and the customer safe.

So, there’s just a few ways job roles are changing, and there are so many more. Compared to 100 years ago, conditions are better for everybody, and people are generally happier in their roles. There are still big issues with unemployment, but hopefully within the next 50 years we’ll see this changing for the better as well.

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Good Customer Support Can Drive Success: Is Your Business Up To The Task?

Customer support is one of the most important areas of any business. By providing a high level of customer support, you can ensure your customers enjoy a positive experience, making them more likely to continue being your customers and helping your business to grow.

If you want to drive success with better customer support, there are many ways that you can go about this. Here are some of the best ways to make quick and effective changes to improve the way you provide support.

Invest in Helpdesk Software

One of the first things you will want to do in order to improve your customer support is to invest in specialist helpdesk software.

A specialist solution like that provided by SysAid is one of the fastest ways to dramatically improve your customer support and make life easier for your support agents.

Why?

Because helpdesk solutions often come with a number of features that you can quickly put to use that make the whole process of dealing with customer support requests a lot more efficient.

One of the ways software helps is by providing you with an efficient ticketing system. You can use this to ensure you reply to tickets quickly and never miss any requests.

You can also use automation to improve your service. For example, you can send an auto reply to support requests as soon s they are sent letting the customer know that their request is being dealt with. Customers are less likely to send follow-up requests, taking pressure off your support agents.

You can also use specialist software to create a knowledge base for your customers. They can then access this 24/7 to find answers to their problems quickly. Many customers prefer doing this, so you are providing a better service at the same time as reducing the amount of requests to free up your support agents to focus on more complex problems.

You can also take advantage of tools like live chat. This can be a great option for your customers because sometimes people like to talk to someone in the moment without having to wait for an email reply, so this is something to consider.

Improve Your Reputation Management

As well as using specialist software, another way to improve your customer support is to use reputation management. Using specialist tools, you can scan the web for mentions of your brand on social media and elsewhere.

This can help you to find out where customers are complaining or having difficulties with your products or services, and you can then respond to them.

If someone has a complaint, apologize and offer to help. You could solve it right there, or give them an email or number to call so they can sort it out this way instead.

This can be a great way to turn a bad situation into a positive one, and other potential customers will be impressed at how seriously you take your customer support.

Provide Support on Social Media

Another good option is to use your social media accounts to provide customer support.

Many people use social media every day, including your customers. By letting them reach out on Twitter, Facebook, or any of the other social networks that they use, you can solve their problems right there without them having to leave their chosen platform. By doing this, you are helping to make life much easier for them.

Train Your Staff to React Properly

You should also ensure that you train your staff up to respond in the right manner when dealing with complaints and other customer requests. They should always be polite, friendly, and helpful without becoming rude, and they should try to sound human rather than like a machine.

Your aim should be to make sure customers feel like they are important to your business, so go out of your way to do this. But you can’t just expect your staff to do this without the right skills, so ensure they receive the training they need.

Improve Your Customer Support

There are so many benefits of improving customer support in your business. You can give your reputation a boost, encourage more customers to become brand advocates, enjoy more long-term repeat customers, and improve employee satisfaction rates among other things.

So start looking at ways that you can make changes to your customer support today to improve the way you handle customer requests, and start taking advantage of the benefits of better customer support in your business.

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Setting up a business in the healthcare sector

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Health is important, from keeping in shape to treating disease the healthcare sector is incredibly varied.

With people increasingly putting more focus into their health and wellbeing more and more businesses within the sector are cropping up, but what do you need when setting up a business which deals with some aspect of the public’s health?

What sort of business are you running?

Healthcare covers so many areas. Your decision to open a business might fall into a number of areas including:

  • Gym
  • Health Centre
  • Beauty Salon
  • NHS Treatment Provider

Depending on the sorts of services you offer the steps involved in setting up your business will vary in terms of what you need to do.

Permissions, licenses and legislation

Aside from staff, premises, equipment and the other more obvious requirements for running a business you also need to consider the different licenses and legislation you need to contend with.

For example, if you’re planning on opening a beauty salon which offers different cosmetic treatments such as sunbeds or electrolysis it is important to check if they require a premises licence from your local council.

The costs for licenses will vary from council to council and could require inspections to ensure your premises are suitable.

You should also ensure that if there are any special accreditations that your business can gain that shows they operate a quality service which is safe and monitored that you do so. This can help create a sense of quality around your business which could be crucial as you establish yourself in a crowded sector.

You should also ensure that any staff are qualified to provide treatment, and have demonstrable expertise. For example, if you run a gym and you offer a personal trainer service you should be certain your personal trainers are highly qualified and not going to suggest anything to your customers likely to cause injury or long term problems.

Infection Control

If your business offers medical or cosmetic procedures then cleanliness and preventing the spread of germs and bacteria is crucial.

Infection control involves a number of steps, from ensuring surfaces are clean to having healthcare uniforms which are designed to reduce the spread of infection and being easy to clean to kill germs and avoid staff taking them home with them inadvertently.

A healthcare business can be incredibly rewarding, helping people to feel better about themselves or make positive changes in their lives. Taking the right steps to ensure you set your business up correctly and allow you to present yourself as a qualified, safe place to seek to improve your health is crucial to ensuring long-term success.