How to Ensure Strategy for Disabled People In Cities

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Disability has called for a disability-inclusive COVID-19 response that improves the working lives of disabled people.

It is feared that disabled workers will be among the hardest hit as a result of the coming recession, with the gap between the number of disabled and non-disabled workers in employment already rising.

Now the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has responded to an open letter calling for a disability-inclusive response to COVID-19 from the APPG for Disability, signed by more than 100 MPs and Peers, stating that he is determined to introduce an “ambitious and transformative” National Strategy for Disabled People.

He also said emergency measures adopted in response to COVID-19, such as the relaxation of statutory care requirements, would be kept under review and terminated “as soon as possible”.

Dr Lisa Cameron MP, Chair of the APPG for Disability, said: “I am delighted to see the Prime Minister’s positive comments, especially as we feared the National Strategy for Disabled People would drop off the government’s agenda amidst the pressures resulting from COVID-19.

“Progressive policies, such as extending mandatory pay reporting for gender to cover disability, have the potential to improve the working lives of disabled people significantly. The APPG for Disability will push hard for the inclusion of such policies within the National Strategy for Disabled People, thereby ensuring the Prime Minister honours his promise.”

The Government has a manifesto commitment to publish a National Strategy for Disabled People. This has been delayed to due COVID-19, but is expected to published in early 2021.

It has promised a clear cross-government vision on disability, identifying what matters most to disabled people, and ensuring that practical policy changes allow them to participate fully in society.

Other measures advocated by the APPG for Disability include:

  • Using central government procurement to improve disabled people’s employment opportunities by setting minimum standards for contractors.
  • Supporting trade unions in helping to improve disabled people’s working lives.
  • Significantly revamping existing schemes, such as Disability Confident and Access to Work.

In response to the group’s open letter, the Prime Minister said: “Our resolve to ensuring that disabled people can play a full role in society is steadfast and unchanged, with a manifesto commitment to publish a National Strategy for Disabled people.

“The Strategy’s significance is even greater as we rebuild the UK’s economy and society after COVID-19, and I am determined that now, more than ever, it must be the most ambitious and transformative endeavour for disabled people in a generation.”

Lord Shinkwin, Vice Chair of the APPG and Chair of the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) Disability Commission, said: “Given the financial legacy of COVID-19, we simply cannot afford to carry on as we are. We need a transformation that unleashes the potential of disabled and non-disabled people alike.

“That means looking at how government and business can make the market work for everyone, so disabled households are treated as customers worth almost a quarter of a trillion pounds. I hope very much that the Prime Minister will respond positively to the Disability Commission’s recommendations later in the year”.

The APPG drew up its proposals in collaboration with disability@work, a group of senior academics specialising in disability employment.

Disability@work’s research recently showed that disabled people were 16 per cent more likely than other workers to experience a pay cut or pay freeze during the last recession. They were also 28 per cent more likely to have restricted access to paid overtime.

With the global economy facing the worst recession for a century it is feared that disabled workers will be among the hardest hit again.

Professor Kim Hoque, from Warwick Business School and disability@work, said: “Pre-existing disadvantage has been shown to render disabled people more sensitive to economic downturns. Employers also tend to marginalise equality priorities during recessions given the need to focus on short term economic performance, and also the abundance of job applicants, which reduces the ‘cost’ of discrimination”

“The introduction of an ambitious National Strategy for Disabled People would go a long way in helping protect disabled people in the current recession.”

Diane Lightfoot, Business Disability Forum CEO, stated: “In the aftermath of COVID-19, it is encouraging that the PM’s comments suggest there is a once in a lifetime opportunity to think big and develop a National Strategy for Disabled People that shifts the dial on disabled people’s employment chances, and ensures all employers play their part in enabling disabled people to obtain and retain high quality employment .

Tiernan Brady, Clifford Chance Global Director of Inclusion, commented: “Delivering inclusion for people with disabilities needs to be central to our reaction to recent events, and a National Disability Strategy is essential to making that happen.

“Inclusion must not be a luxury item that gets put in a drawer until times are easy. The events around COVID and the killing of George Floyd, and the subsequent global reaction, have illuminated the critical importance of inclusion to our society and in our workplaces.”



COVID-19 Shines A Bright Light On Disparities In Healthcare Among People Of Color 

During the coronavirus pandemic, people should guard their eyes with glasses or face shields to protect their eyes from virus infection, said Dr. Daniel Laroche, Director of Glaucoma Services and President of Advanced Eyecare of New York. People also need to know, even though there are many concerns about COVID-19, common-sense precautions can significantly reduce the risk of infection, he says, adding: “Wash hands frequently, follow good contact lens hygiene and avoid rubbing or touching our mouth, nose, and especially our eyes.” Dr. Laroche is also affiliated with the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, Island Eye Surgical Center, and New York University.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also changed the way people visit their doctors. For patients over 60, Dr. Laroche advises it’s better to stay home and do telehealth over the phone or video consultation until the pandemic flattens. He also encourages people to wear face masks on visits and maintain social distancing, even if they are in a health clinic. “Eyesight or human vision is one of the most important senses. As much as 80% of what we feel comes through our sense of sight. By protecting the eyes, people will reduce the chance of blindness and vision loss while also staying on top of any developing eye diseases, such as glaucoma and cataracts. A healthy brain function requires a healthy vision. The brain is our most essential organ, and It allows us to control other organs. Normal and healthy vision contributes to improved learning and comprehension for a better quality of life,” says Dr. Laroche.

Dr. Laroche says there is another critical issue that COVID-19 has brought to the forefront and that is the issue of health care disparities among Black and Brown people. “Nationally, African American deaths from COVID-19 are nearly two times greater than would be expected based on their share of the population. In four states, the rate is three or more times greater. In forty-two states, plus Washington, D.C., Hispanics make up a greater share of confirmed cases than their share of the population. In eight states it’s more than four times greater,” he says, adding: “In stark contrast, White deaths from COVID-19 are lower than their share of the population in thirty-seven states.”

Dr. Laroche says there are several things that can be done to not only address but to help combat this issue:

  1.  Increase the number of Black and Afro-Latino physicians worldwide.
  2. Implement universal healthcare.
  3. Increase wealth and education which produces better health.
  4. Provide a living income stipend for poor people to access food and reduce malnutrition.
  5. Eliminate racism to reduce stress.
  6. Identify white supremist organizations as terrorist groups.
  7. Recommend all corporations have people of color in the top management and leadership positions.
  8. Eliminate sole reliance on standardized testing as the criteria to be used at entry to magnet schools.
  9. Provide more funding to reduce homelessness and for mental health.
  10. The government should also require medical school, research and hospital funding to diversify and benefit people of color.

About Dr. Daniel Laroche

Dr. Laroche is an exceptional glaucoma specialist in New York. He studied and received his bachelor’s degree from New York University and a medical doctorate with honors in research from Weil Cornell University Medical College. He underwent a medical internship at Montefiore Hospital and finished his Ophthalmology residency at Howard University Hospital in Washington D.C., where he was the chief resident in his third year. He later completed his glaucoma fellowship at New York Eye and Ear.

Labuan as a Digital Financial Services Hub 

Early adoption will be a key differentiator in the race to lead South East Asia in regulated digital asset exchanges and associated digital financial products and services – offering services such as primary listing of securities, listing of alternative assets and secondary-market trading of security tokens and cryptocurrencies with secure digital custody.

By Hirander Misra, CEO of GMEX Group and Asad Sultan, CEO of Deutsche Malayan Ventures

Distributed ledger technology is bound to revolutionise capital markets so that conventional and digital asset classes will eventually converge; and digital asset exchanges will provide the liquidity and efficiencies necessary to support this marketplace with standardized processes, reduction of intermediaries, global 24/7 access, real-time settlements and lower costs of trading and custody.

Given that the Fintech sector is set for exponential growth, it is worth pointing out that Malaysia has some key advantages over its peers to develop a Digital Financial Services Hub in the ASEAN region (with potentially a global reach).

Malaysia has English language and common law commercial platforms, strong and credible oversight by Bank Negara and the Securities Commission, a budding off-shore tax-efficient financial center in Labuan; and, most importantly, none of the legacy issues of big money centers like Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore which have ironically made them inflexible to innovation and resistant to change – at least with respect to digital financial services.

The benefits of a Digital Financial Services Hub initiative are multiple for Malaysia and include:

  • Positioning Malaysia as a leader in digital financial services especially within Islamic Fintech;
  • Development of local expertise in digital assets and services as well as attracting Fintech companies;
  • Growing the GDP in the digital financial services space;
  • Opening the door to an unlimited set of digital assets to be offered for trading over time;
  • Enabling easy connection to other similar Hubs in the ASEAN region and other parts of the world.

Rather than lobby the government for a new Digital Hub, which would likely be a long lead-time initiative, we can use existing infrastructure such as the Digital Free Trade Zone – launched in 2018 to great fanfare but since then underutilized – and combine its facilities and incentives with the regulatory flexibility offered by Labuan Offshore Financial Services Authority (LOFSA), for example. Where the first digital asset exchange licenses have already been issued.

Some of the benefits of operating out of Labuan include 100% foreign ownership control, 3% corporate tax, and oversight by Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance. Earlier this year, Fusang Exchange was licensed by LOFSA as the first securities exchange focused on digital assets.

Fusang plans, as confirmed by CEO Henry Chong, is to start by securitizing and offering digital shares in smaller companies that are ineligible for listing on the KLSE, as well as digitizing hard assets such as gold, property, art, etc.; in theory every asset class can be tokenized and, indeed, eventually will be.

Such a paradigm shift underlines the importance of an early mover advantage in order to cultivate the ground for domestic startups, interconnect with regional hubs, and entice international players to choose Malaysia as the landing pad from which to grow out their Asia digital financial services footprint.

About Hirander Misra

Hirander Misra is the Chairman and CEO of GMEX Group (GMEX), offering innovative solutions for the creation & operation of electronic exchanges and post trade infrastructure in securities, FX, derivatives, commodities, crypto & digital tokenised assets. He is also part of the Mauritius Financial Services Commission task force on Digital Finance.

He is also Chairman of MINDEX, the Mauritius based International Derivatives and Commodities Exchange, which is a full ecosystem providing a regulated exchange, clearing house, refinery, vault, office, warehousing, digital marketplace and digital custodian for tokenised gold and other assets enabled by blockchain technology. He is also a Director of USAVE Blockchain offering ethical digital tokenised physical gold.

About Asad Sultan

Asad Sultan is a twenty-five year veteran of the investment banking industry, including fifteen years in Asia. Asad Sultan is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Malayan Ventures, a company that provides bespoke cross-border advisory services for investment and execution of high-value projects in Malaysia. He is also Senior Adviser at JT Capital Asset Management. JT Capital is a value oriented asset management firm established in 2010.JT Capital strives to be the pioneer asset management company in the Greater China region,offering investors opportunities to capitalize on economic transition and growth in China.

Until 2008 he was the Managing Director and Country Head in India for US investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald. Asad started his career in 1990 with Citibank in New York, then Tokyo and London. In Hong Kong, he worked for Japan’s Daiwa Bank, and served as Division Director and Head of Asian Equities for Australia’s Macquarie Bank; following which he launched NYSE-listed institutional brokerage Investment Technology Group in Asia as regional Chief Executive Officer.

Companies Created By Estonian E-Residents Have Now Accumulated £1.5bn Turnover

E-Residents of Estonia, who have established 13,000 Estonian companies worldwide since the launch of the e-Residency programme in December 2014, have now accumulated a total turnover exceeding £1.5 billion. The growth has been fuelled by a recent substantial increase in Estonian companies established by e-Residents to gain access to the EU market. e-Residency has also reported a significant increase of new e-residents since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to Ott Vatter, Managing Director of e-Residency, turnover of e-Residents’ companies is increasing rapidly. He said: “In 2016, the total turnover of e-Residents’ companies based in Estonia totalled £65 million. Last year, it increased more than sevenfold, totalling £480 million.” Rapid growth, he says, is based on the recent increase in Estonian companies established by e-Residents. E-Residents have launched 8,300 new businesses in Estonia over the last two years, compared to a total Estonian population of 1.3 million.

“In 2019, e-Residents established a sixth of all new companies created in Estonia. This means that on average, e-residents created 11 companies every day between 2018 and 2019. However, over the first quarter of 2020 that involved COVID-19 outbreak in European Union countries, including Estonia, e-residents created nearly 50% more companies than during the same period in 2019. This demonstrates that location independent company administration is even more relevant in a global crisis situation,” says Vatter.

Total turnover growth of e-Residents’ Estonian companies has also driven the growth of the same businesses’ average tax revenue. In 2019, the cumulative average tax revenue created by e-Residents’ Estonian companies increased by 32%. “A large number of e-Resident companies have taken their products and services to the global market, many of which have benefitted from becoming EU companies thanks to e-Residency, having also generated customer demand on a global level. Also, most businesses launched by e-Residents play an active part in building a knowledge-based society, and are active in fields that create remarkable added additional value to the economy,” explained Vatter.

Many e-Residents who have established companies in Estonia within the last six months are still working hard on product and service development. “Entrepreneurs all around the world see the added value that e-Residency brings, as we’re providing them with the opportunity to use Estonian digital e-services and run their company remotely. With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, many countries around the world are still fully or partly in lockdown, which means entrepreneurs and SMEs are desperately looking for alternative ways to keep their companies running. E-Residency will always be there to support those companies who are anxious about the future.”

The E-Residency programme was launched by Estonian Government in 2014 with the aim to offer non-residents across the world secure and transparent access to Estonian pioneering digital services. Owners of e-Resident digital ID-cards can digitally sign documents, and access portals and information systems that accept Estonian ID-cards that are eIDAS compliant. E-Residency itself does not give Estonian citizenship, tax-residency, residency or right to enter Estonia or the European Union.

Everyone can apply for this transnational government-issued digital identity and benefit from the e-Residency platform, which is built on inclusion, legitimacy and transparency.  E-Residency allows access to Estonia’s public e-services and a variety of e-services provided by international service providers, all part of Estonia’s X-Road, which links all public services together and enables each service to work in harmony. All outgoing data is digitally signed and encrypted, and all incoming data is authenticated and logged, meaning that e-Residents’ and other users of the X-Road’s data is completely secure.This provides the freedom to easily start and run a global EU company fully online from anywhere in the world.

E-residents can: open a company within a day and run the company remotely, apply for a business banking account and credit card, conduct e-banking, use international payment service providers, declare taxes, and sign documents digitally. E-Residency does not provide citizenship, tax residency, physical residency or the right to travel to Estonia or EU.

HealthTech: Digital Diagnostics Expands Global Impact of Healthcare Autonomous AI And Aims To Democratize Healthcare

The Digital Diagnostics platform now holds the intellectual property for two key autonomous AI technologies focused on democratizing healthcare

Healthcare access and inequity challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic; members of at-risk populations around the world are increasingly delaying important specialist care. Today Digital Diagnostics Inc., a pioneering global healthcare autonomous artificial intelligence (AI) company formerly known as IDx, announces it has acquired 3Derm Systems Inc. of Boston, MA. This acquisition makes Digital Diagnostics the global leader in healthcare autonomous AI, where it is the sole holder of autonomous AI healthcare systems that are De Novo authorized by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), enabling the company to close more care gaps widened by COVID-19.

Autonomous AI: Increasing Access to Specialty Care

This acquisition is an important milestone in the effort to use autonomous AI to improve healthcare quality, lower costs and reduce the suffering caused by disease progression. In “autonomous AI,” it is the computer, not the clinician, making the medical decisions, enabling patients to obtain diagnoses for serious conditions when and where they receive medical care. Obtaining an instantaneous diagnosis from frontline care physicians and other providers leads to better outcomes for patients, especially those from underserved populations.

The rebrand of IDx to Digital Diagnostics reflects its expanded platform of autonomous AI products in multiple medical specialties. The company’s flagship product, IDx-DR, was the first autonomous AI system De Novo authorized by the FDA in any field of medicine; it diagnoses diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. With the acquisition of 3Derm, the Digital Diagnostics platform will immediately include telemedicine capabilities for dermatology, 3DermTriage,™ in preparation for FDA authorization of its autonomous AI skin cancer diagnostic system, 3DermSpot™.

“There is too much needless suffering from treatable illnesses, and this happens more in populations that do not have equitable access to healthcare, and particularly to specialist physicians,” observed Michael Abramoff, MD, PhD, founder and executive chairman of Digital Diagnostics. “Our autonomous systems allow frontline care providers to instantaneously diagnose serious conditions, refer patients who need specialist treatment faster, and improve long-term patient outcomes.”

“Automated testing can offer huge benefits to the UK and Ireland’s screening processes for Diabetic Retinopathy, reducing risk to patients and saving clinicians significant time. As a tech-savvy nation, Ireland has the opportunity to lead the UK in the adoption of the best medical technology and pioneer the use of AI. Our acquisition of 3Derm which provides AI testing for skin cancer is also great news for Ireland and the UK, where one in six men and one in nine women will be affected by melanoma at some point I their lives.”

How It Works: Instantaneous Diagnosis at the Front Line of Care

Digital Diagnostics was founded in 2010 by Dr. Abramoff, a practicing, fellowship-trained retina specialist ophthalmologist, neuroscientist and computer engineer who developed a unique, patented biomarker-based approach to build AI algorithms that perform cognitively complex tasks. These algorithms are integrated into easy-to-use systems that can make instantaneous clinical decisions in which the computer makes the medical decision. To make instantaneous diagnoses, both IDx-DR and 3DermSpot use high quality images of the eyes and skin coupled with autonomous AI; the system is operated by existing primary care clinic staff.

Digital Diagnostics products are in use by the largest and most prestigious health systems in the U.S. and globally. The company works closely with patient advocacy groups, federal regulators, and other quality of care and ethics-focused stakeholders to enable adoption of autonomous AI. Milestones include:

  • February 2018: IDx-DR receives Breakthrough Device designation from FDA.
  • April 2018: First time FDA issues De Novo authorization for an autonomous AI, IDx-DR, in any field of medicine.
  • June 2018: CMS introduces temporary bridge coding, CPT® code 92250-TC, for autonomous AI.
  • May 2019: CPT® Editorial Panel creates the first CPT® category 1 code for autonomous AI,  9225X.
  • December 2019: American Diabetes Association updates its Standard of Diabetes Care to include autonomous AI for the diabetic eye exam.
  • January 2020: 3DermSpot receives Breakthrough Device designation from FDA.
  • July 2020: NCQA updates HEDIS to support the use of autonomous AI for closing the diabetic eye exam care gap.
  • August 2020: For the first time, U.S. CMS announces Medicare will pay for autonomous AI.
  • August 2020:  Digital Diagnostics acquires 3Derm Systems, clearing the path toward 3DermSpot availability in EMEA markets.

IDx-DR is present in 17 global markets, including:

  • The Netherlands: Now used in multiple practices, it hosted the first implementation of IDx-DR worldwide, under the Class IIa CE-mark.
  • Poland: An entire voivodeship (province) diagnoses its diabetes population with IDx-DR.
  • Austria: IDx-DR is deployed in multiple diabetes outpatient clinics in Vienna. Digital Diagnostics is working with a prominent university to obtain national reimbursement for IDx-DR.
  • Germany: Digital Diagnostics completed a pilot and is working with insurance companies to introduce IDx-DR as a reimbursable healthcare service.
  • Emerging markets also include United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia (KSA).
  • Bangladesh: Orbis International and Digital Diagnostics are working to evaluate how autonomous AI can improve productivity for eye health professionals to prevent avoidable blindness.

“By using Digital Diagnostics’ autonomous AI platform, 3DermSpot decreases the time it takes to put their life saving device in the hands of frontline care providers,” said John Bertrand, CEO, Digital Diagnostics. “Expanding the specialties our products cover allows our customers to use our platform as their one stop shop for autonomous AI diagnostics at the point-of-care.”

“By working with primary care physicians and other healthcare providers, we will reach more people and diagnose diseases sooner, closing care gaps for at-risk patients,” observed Seth Rainford, President and COO, Digital Diagnostics. “This allows specialists to practice at the top of their license to prevent blindness and treat skin cancer.”

“Improving access and empowering frontline care providers was core to our mission at 3Derm,” said Liz Asai, former CEO & Co-Founder, 3Derm Systems, Inc. and now VP of Dermatology, Digital Diagnostics. “We are thrilled to continue our work as part of a larger organization focused on doing AI the right way, and that offers a broad commercial platform.”

Healthcare Autonomous AI the Right Way

Digital Diagnostics is committed to autonomous AI the right way: with an unwavering focus on improving patient outcomes, safety, efficacy and equity. The company has worked collaboratively within the healthcare and regulatory systems of multiple countries, including U.S. federal agencies, to accelerate the acceptance and adoption of ethical, evidence-based, autonomous AI. Digital Diagnostics adheres to the principles of autonomy, justice, and non-maleficence. This approach assumes legal liability for the autonomous AI performance; practices strong transparent stewardship of patient data; is designed and validated for equity, and focuses on improving clinical outcomes.

Entrepreneurial Britain Initiative To Reignite The Entrepreneurial Spirit Of Britain’s Cities

The Entrepreneurial Britain two-days initiative will be focused on towns and cities in the UK as key drivers of economic growth

Entrepreneurial Britain is a new two-day initiative designed to reignite the entrepreneurial spirit of Britain’s towns and cities.  Comprising a peer-to-peer learning conference and an awards ceremony, attendees will leave with fresh ideas on how to invigorate their local economies.  Entrepreneurial Britain is launched by the founders of The Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

The outbreak of Covid-19 and the attendant rapid acceleration of the already pre-existing trend towards digital living – be that home working or studying, shopping online, or joining a virtual yoga class – has left large question marks looming over the prosperity of towns and cities.  To rebuild large parts of the economy, our towns and cities must learn from one another, encourage local entrepreneurship, and recognize successful local business people and initiatives.

The conference will feature thought leaders on: ‘entrepreneurial clusters’, attracting investment, funding, diversity, and inclusion, and successful high street blueprints.  The initiative will therefore showcase the best of entrepreneurial Britain.  The award winners will illustrate successes in improving transport links, encouraging graduates to stay in the area, mobilizing communities, utilizing physical spaces, and producing and supporting local business heroes.

Large swathes of existing infrastructure, such as malls, office parks, and high streets, may become redundant and the conference will also look at ways in which to reimagine spaces as engines for socio-economic development.

The host city for 2021 will be announced in due course.  The winning city for 2021 will be the host city in 2022, which sets the pattern for the determination of Entrepreneurial Britain host cities in the future.

Nick James, Founder of Fresh Business Thinking, said: “Our initiative has its sights set on ‘entrepreneurial clusters’ – how these come to be, and how their successes can be replicated.  An example that stands out to us is Frederick Terman who is widely credited as the founder of Silicon Valley.  In the 1920s he was a member of the Stanford University engineering faculty where he helped establish a laboratory.  Terman encouraged students to stay in the Valley and to set up their businesses there, which he sometimes invested in. The rest is history… This is a powerful anecdote highlighting strategic decisions that can result in the formation of entrepreneurial clusters that can steer a city, town, or area towards a brilliant future or entirely rebuild an economy.”

Francesca James, Founder of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, said: “As the global pandemic and digital transformation reshape our lives, we must support regional business creation, growth and entrepreneurial activity to create sparks in the UK economy.  Entrepreneurial Britain is ready to shine the light on entrepreneurial clusters, allowing other towns and cities to emulate their successes and ensure business creation in the UK. 

“Research has shown that the British economy would benefit to the tune of £34bn a year by 2030 if the local economies of towns and cities were to realise their full entrepreneurial potential over the next decade and we look forward to welcoming participants and attendees at our inaugural initiative next year to encourage entrepreneurship in our towns and cities.”

Cybersecurity Becomes The Fastest Growing Start-Up Sector In The UK During Covid-19

· Funding increased by 940% since the beginning of lockdown – compared to the same period last year, making cybersecurity the fastest growing start-up sector in the UK

· £496m raised by UK cybersec firms in the first half of 2020

· 44% increase in no. of cybersec start-ups in the past 2 years

· New cybersec business registered every week

Funding has increased by a staggering 940% for UK cybersecurity start-ups since the beginning of lockdown – with £496m being raised in the first half of 2020, almost outstripping the 2019 total of £521m.

Investors have been quick to put their money towards start-ups specialising in cyber risk management, as the pandemic forced CEO’s to look beyond just financial or regulatory risk.

The findings come from a new report by global recruiter Robert Walters and data provider VacancySoftCybersecurity: Building Business Resilience – which claims that business spending on cybersecurity will double to £136bn this year.

Darius Goodarzi, Principal – Information Security and IT Risk at Robert Walters, comments: “For years the UK has been building its reputation as a beacon of innovation and investment in cybersecurity. This year in particular cybersecurity start-ups have risen to become business heroes – from tools that alert users to security vulnerabilities, to those that spot fraudulent activity — these news firms and tools have taken an important role in protecting our ‘new world.”

According to the government’s Cyber Security Sectoral Analysis 2020 there are 1,221 firms active within the UK providing cybersecurity products and services – a 44% increase in the last two years – indicating that a new cybersecurity business is registered every week within the UK. Of this, 90% of the sector consists of SMEs – with an associated estimated turnover of £2bn (24% of the sector’s revenues).

Ajay Hayre – Senior Consultant Technology at Robert Walters – comments:

“Historically IT security has represented only 5% of a company’s IT budget but due to remote working and transition to online or cloud-based solutions, cybersecurity has been thrust to the centre of business continuity plans – having proved its worth in enabling business objectives during lockdown.

“Not only will every company see the benefit of having this expertise in-house, but they will be looking externally for tools, services and advisors to help guarantee the future-proofing of their business by way of solid and robust cybersecurity provisions.”

Demand for Consultancies

With 48% of UK companies stating they do not have adequate cybersecurity to enable long term remote working and a further 70% of companies across Europe admitting that they do not have a sufficient cybersecurity team in general, it seems the race is on to hire talent in this area – with job vacancies growing by 6% in the UK for the first half of this year.

However, with a talent shortage across the continent of 140,000, companies are being left with no choice but to turn to cybersecurity consultancies. In fact, such is the demand that cybersecurity consultancies are one of the fastest-growing start-ups in the UK – now at 1,000 companies with the average number of employees being just 10.

Adam Casey – Managing Director at i3Secure – a UK-based Cyber Security and Data Protection consultancy – comments:

“The pace at which companies are having to undergo digital transformation means security projects will be rife, add to that a period of ‘rationalisation’ – where firms will need to check whether what they fitted ‘overnight’ is totally secure and fit for purpose. As a result, one of the main drives for cyber security over the next 12 months will be to amend and create sustainable and secure systems.

“With this, a trend we expect to manifest is an increase in ‘Cyber Audits’ performed by specialist external providers, as a way of helping companies test their resilience and identify vulnerabilities.

“Companies are increasingly out-sourcing projects to these new & exciting firms promising efficient project delivery, in place of hiring a CISO and in-house team at a significant cost to the company.”

The North is Rising

Unlike the tech sector as a whole, where 80% of VC funding goes to London and just 20% to the rest of the UK – within cybersecurity the success is nationwide, with 55% of the UK’s cyber start-ups based outside of London.

In the North West of England, the number of cybersecurity start-ups has more than doubled in the past two years from 39 registered firms to 80.

This is also prevalent in hiring patterns, where traditionally London has been the centre for IT security hiring – representing 41% of total jobs in the UK – roles are emerging more evenly across the country.

In fact, year-on-year cybersec roles in Yorkshire and the North East have exploded by +138% – with the region now making up 18% of overall cyber security hires.

Ahsan Iqbal, Director of Technology at Robert Walters, comments:

“With part-remote working here to stay for the foreseeable, removal of geographical barriers is allowing companies to make tactical hires outside of London. Not only is cost saving an advantage here, but the North has built up a reputation for its highly skilled and experienced pool of tech talent.”

Study: The Covid-19 Pandemic Has Changed The Workplace Forever

Study shows 60% of Brits do not want to return to the way things were before lockdown and 49% believe they won’t be back to the office full-time until the end of the year or into 2021

Only 26% of full-time UK workers want life to return to the way it was before lockdown. This is according to the nationwide Covid-19 Remote Working Survey of 1000 people, all of whom are currently working from home, conducted by Censuswide and commissioned by Eskenzi PR. Indeed, more than 40% of respondents revealed that they like working from home.

The results of the survey also suggest that the longer we spend out of the office, the more acclimatised we become to working from home, with an increase of 13% since a similar survey was conducted by Eskenzi PR in May. In fact, half of those surveyed do not expect to return to the office before the end of the calendar year or even into the beginning of 2021, with just 5% of respondents not wanting to work from home in the future. Only one in five feel they are more productive at home.

Furthermore, of the 1,000 respondents, the majority (60%) do not want to go back to the way things were before lockdown. This desire is particularly strong amongst ‘Generation X’, as nearly 75% of 45-54-year-olds do not want to return to the old “normal”. Interestingly, ‘Millennials’ and ‘Generation Z’ are the age groups that would prefer to go back to the way things were before lockdown, with more than 61% opting for this. Perhaps this is due to the increased expectations and pressure on the younger generation.

The leading reasons contributing to this shift from traditional work structures are because, while working from home, people are able to: save more money (35%), spend more time with their loved ones (27%), and generally feel less stressed (24%). In fact, almost three quarters (74%) of respondents indicated that they were better off financially because of the lockdown. It may be no surprise that the leading factor contributing to increased savings (60%) is because there are fewer reasons to go out and spend money. Likewise, 50% of respondents have been saving money from not commuting, with this burden becoming noticeably lighter for those living in Greater London (55%).

Interestingly, given the opportunity, employees are totally in favor of working from home for an average of 3 days a week and commuting into the office for just 2 days a week, with 49% opting for this choice.

Summary of Findings Covid-19 Remote Working Survey

  • 60% of Brits do not want to return to the way things were before lockdown.
  • 18% have pledged they will never return to full-time office work again.
  • 49% believe they won’t be back to the office full-time until the end of the year or into 2021.
  • 26% of respondents want life to return to the way it was before lockdown.
  • 40% of respondents revealed that they like working from home.
  • 5% of respondents never want to work from home again.
  • One in five respondents (22%) feel they’re more productive working from home.
  • 74% of respondents indicated that they were better off financially because of the lockdown.
  • 49% want to work in the office for just 2 days a week.
  • Nearly 60% have concerns about being able to social distance upon returning to the office

Worryingly, only 20% of those surveyed admitted to being happy before lockdown. This, unfortunately, corroborates recent statistics from the ONS which revealed that “One in five people appeared to have depressive symptoms” during the pandemic.

To make matters worse, anxiety surrounding the return to offices will most likely play a large part on mental health. Nearly 60% of respondents are concerned about the ability to social distance while in the office. Similarly, the human factor plays a large part when considering anxieties, as 17% are concerned about office cliques or strained relationships with colleagues.

“Many companies do not have offices conducive to social distancing and this will need to be addressed quite carefully through hand sanitising stations, making sure desks are far enough apart and keeping the numbers in the office in check,” said Yvonne Eskenzi, founder of Eskenzi PR & Marketing. “As a business owner myself, I understand the pressure that other businesses will be under to make sure the physical and mental well-being of staff is a priority. Studies such as ours are useful indicators for business owners to help them shape the future of what the “new normal” will look like at their organisations.”  

She added: “However, it’s a fine balance between what’s good for employees versus what’s good for the employer as office buildings, rents and rates etc still need to be paid. My biggest concern working in the creative industry is not having people all in one place where they can brainstorm and exchange ideas which naturally happens when you’re together – with some of the best ideas forming over the coffee machine! One thing is for sure, this survey has shown the workplace will never be the same again.” 

Digital Week Online Is Back With The Goal Of “Keeping The Tech World United”

From Oct 9 – 16th, 2020, Digital Week Online will feature online events for innovators and entrepreneurs, including “The Babylon Project” blockchain hackathon and the “Global Blockchain Day”

Building on the success of the first global gathering in May 2020, which attracted 170 top-level speakers, 60+ professional investors and 1,500 attendees, Digital Week Online will be expanding to an even bigger community of innovators and entrepreneurs on 9th-16th October; “Keeping the tech world united – changing the future! Online. For everyone.”

The event will kick off with the “The Babylon Project”, an intense three-day (9-11th October) virtual blockchain hackathon that aims to democratize access to global innovation.

On Oct 12th, “Global Blockchain Day” will take place. In here, top experts will tackle topics such as DeFi, central bank digital currencies, blockchain for corporates, institutional investments and mining.

All participants then take a “virtual networking break” on Oct 13th by joining one of the best intuitive AI-powered business matching platforms.

Innovation Days run Oct 14-16th and are broken down by region for local tech gurus, mentors and investment community leaders to engage audiences on seven key tracks:

Covid19 and its impact on economies
– Privacy & Cyber Security
Digital Marketing
– Impact & Sustainability
– Corporate Innovation
Gaming & Entertainment

Each track will be co-hosted by a reputable organization with deep expertise in that space. For example, the Privacy & Cyber Security track will be co-hosted by PrivacyRules which unites law firms and cyber security companies across 50 countries. The Corporate Innovation track will be co-hosted by Plug and Play Tech Center – a global leader of the corporate acceleration programs and investments.

Keeping faithful to their core community, Digital Week Online will also host a start-up competition and pitch sessions, where budding entrepreneurs will get feedback from top-investors and experts. Given the current global pandemic, the organization has waived the fees to participate.

The event comes back picking up on the success of its May event, which attracted 170 top-level speakers, 60+ professional investors and 1,500 attendees. In that occasion, the event featured some of the biggest names in the industry such as:

· Jayne Chan, Invest Hong Kong, The Government of the Hong Kong
· Jason Hsu, Taiwan Mt Jade Technology Association, Secretary General & · Former Congressman of Taiwan
· Dr. Ben Goertzel, SingularityNET, Founder
· Henri Arslanian, PwC, Asia FinTech Leader & FinTech Association of Hong Kong, Chairman
· Xiaochen Zhang, FinTech4Good, Founder & World Digital Economy Council, Co-chair
· Richard Wang, Draper Dragon Fund, Partner
· Yu Xiong, Professor, Researcher, Serial Entrepreneur
· Dinis Guarda,,,, Author, CEO, Founder
· And many more

This impressive roster of top speakers is possible thanks to the online format. In fact, as the organization said: “The online format allows us to invite speakers from government authorities, investment institutions, and top tech companies all over the world to share insights on the situation in their countries, how COVID19 affects the economies and business and what are their efforts in creating a new post-pandemic tech reality.”

Sponsorship packages are available with benefits that include brand exposure, access to a unique audience of potential partners and customers, keynotes and sponsors introduction, analytics, virtual booths as well as inbound and outbound meetings. Main sponsors of our past events include Sensorium VR, OSL, Bitforex and Fio.One.

Interview Muhammad Chbib, Serial Entrepreneur, Global Thought Leader and CEO at

Muhammad Chbib is a serial entrepreneur, global thought leader and CEO at Muhammad Chbib has international experience as a manager who has served several successful startups as well as large corporate organizations in Europe and the MENA region since the late 1990s. Throughout his extensive career, Muhammad R. Chbib has advised leaders at some of the most prestigious Fortune 500 companies during his tenure between 2004 and 2010 at McKinsey & Company in their Middle East and German offices.

Muhammad Chbib Interview focus

  1. An introduction from you – background, overview, education…

2. Can you tell us more about your experience starting in Germany and moving from there to the Middle East? And also the cultural differences between these two worlds?

3. Can you tell us more about your experience working at an established company like McKinsey?

4. You have worked in both the corporate world and in the startup space. Can you tell us more about how you went from an established company like McKinsey to becoming the CEO of, which was later acquired by Amazon?

5. What would be the advice and suggestions you would give to a startup entrepreneur?

6. You helped create the e-commerce wave in the Middle East. Then you moved to the travel industry, and now the Middle East is becoming important as a travel destination. So how did you switch from e-commerce to travel? How was your experience?

7. What is

8. You have experience in research, creating online marketplaces, successful companies in different sectors… So with all that experience, what are the most likely scenarios, trends, etc that we will see after COVID-19?

Muhammad R. Chbib Interview Takeaways

An introduction from you – background, overview, education…

My childhood, with my parents, was my biggest influence. My father is a journalist, who comes from a political background, with an entrepreneurial mindset. As a kid, at the age of 12, I started trading bicycles and stopped taking money from my parents. With that money, I coded videogames, I assembled stuff and a lot of other activities I enjoyed. That made me realize being an entrepreneur gives you freedom and stability.

At 19, I left home to study business at a private business school in Germany. I did semesters abroad to get some sort of international exposure.

After I graduated I joined an online business in 2000/2001. I stayed in the startup space for a while. At 30, I realized I did not know enough. One often plateaus and realizes they want to change. In order to learn, I realized Mckinsey was the perfect place to do so.

Between 2004 and 2010 I worked at McKinsey in the Middle East and Germany. But then the entrepreneurial mind returned. An investor asked me to come to the Middle East and if I could help create, so I did and went back to my roots.

Can you tell us more about your experience starting in Germany and moving from there to the Middle East? And also the cultural differences between these two worlds?

Germany is one of the most reliable and organized countries in the world and it has a great entrepreneurial heritage. And they promote that behavior during the whole educational process. Most entrepreneurs are born at university. And this brings a lot of value to a country. Entrepreneurs want to change the world, they want to do something different and bring value and innovation, and that is something that you can see in Germany happening right now.

In the Middle East, things are different. Some countries here have a lot of money but it’s been wasted all these years. This touched upon my Arabic ego. I wanted this equity to not be drained out by someone who doesn’t care, but to bring it back into the middle east economy and help develop the region.

I wanted to learn from a structured conservative entrepreneurial world i.e. Germany, and take it to the Middle East, and help them. And so when I decided to move to the middle-east, via McKinsey, it was because I wanted to reach out to the top people.

Can you tell us more about your experience working at an established company like McKinsey?

There were a few things about McKinsey that impressed me:

1. It’s a secretive company. When the government approaches you, the information is sensitive. So I learned about confidentiality there. This is very important in the Middle East, which is highly competitive. When you research, analyze, make your strategy, you have to remain confidential.
2. It is a very value-driven company. No matter what, customer success is the most important. I have walked out of rooms, leaving money for the client, despite not being able to implement strategies for them. And we would do that. Money is secondary to them. Customer success is first.
3. It is a very people-centric organization. The HR process, the human-driven process is phenomenal.

These learnings made me realize the importance of long term success. When you’re in a football team of 11 people, you cannot score and win the game alone. The focus on making sure people enjoy what they’re doing is very driven.

You have worked in both the corporate world and in the startup space. Can you tell us more about how you went from an established company like McKinsey to becoming the CEO of, which was later acquired by Amazon?

I left consulting, and at one point my wife got pregnant. And that’s when we decided to reduce the travel time, etc. We moved to Dubai too and I started working in a company that had 32 employees. Our growth was impressive and in 18 months we grew to 150 employees, whilst monthly sales rose from $200,000 to $2 million. And then we got acquired by I stayed there for a few more months and then I left because I decided I wanted to do something different.

One of the experiences I took from my time in was about the recruitment process. McKinsey had top-notch employees, why? Because the recruitment process has 6-7 people filtering applicants. But then you come to the Middle East, and you don’t have a brand name as big as theirs, so you don’t get top people. So if you want to train people and have lower quality, what do you do? How do you sort this problem? That was a big challenge. Out of the 150 people, how many people would I have hired in McKinsey back then, I would have said zero.

Today, in my new company, out of 100 people, I would hire 10. So that is an improvement.

What would be the advice and suggestions you would give to a startup entrepreneur?

I don’t think there is a secret sauce. The most important asset of an entrepreneur is sales. You need to know how to sell what you are selling. It takes a lot of effort to scale and to do so you need to have one leading guy or lady, who is a sales machine. Today, I spend 80% of my time guiding people, even working as a therapist sometimes, hiring people, finding talent, and making sure they are motivated and want to stay in the company. That, in fact, is the best advice I could give: focus your time on finding the right talent.

You helped create the e-commerce wave in the Middle East. Then you moved to the travel industry, and now the Middle East is becoming important as a travel destination. So how did you switch from e-commerce to travel? How was your experience?

Back then it was all about creating things from scratch in the Middle East, it was clearly not very structured. I realized that, if you really want to have an impact, you need to have access to resources, i.e. cash. One of the things I realized was that I wanted to make an impact, and I wanted to transform the ecosystem through digital transformation. If a person has cash, but may not have the knowledge to shift an offline business to an online business – that is your person. Before I started, the instructions were very simple. You all invest, and I will turn the company into a million-dollar company. Choose the right people, the right technology, make mistakes, learn from them, build yourself a reputation, and then people start approaching you. Creating companies in the Middle East needs more strategic cash resources as opposed to Europe.

What is

It’s a B2B e-commerce marketplace. Similar to Amazon or Alibaba. It’s a trading platform for the Middle East to import goods to the Middle East, and to trade goods in and around the Middle East. We started with Food & Beverage, then we have been expanding our offering to lifestyle, office supplies and we are opening to other industries as well.

You have experience in research, creating online marketplaces, successful companies in different sectors… So with all that experience, what are the most likely scenarios, trends, etc that we will see after COVID-19?

I think there has been an overkill of restrictions in and around the globe. I would’ve done it differently. The amount of money raised and pumping it into the economy will harm at least the next 2 generations, if not 3. We are building a liability.

Likewise, many people were skeptical about digital transformation, and are now taking it seriously. For instance, I was talking to a food manufacturer who’s been established for 30 years, when we started with he told me that he would destroy me because he was better established in the market. He called me 5 days ago and asked me to list him on the platform. This shift would have taken 6-7 years, but now is more agile.

Another problem I see is that we lack proper education, even in a developed country like Germany. If you get an ethical hacker for 2 days, they will destroy these companies. If I were a politician, I would go to primary school and teach the basics of cyber data security, risks of blockchain, risks of 5G, etc so that they don’t get exposed to the risk when they are exposed to technology. This is something that has not happened yet. And thank god I’m old enough, but my kids will face this. The world will become a bad place if we are not equipped with the ethical use of technology.

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Video Interview with Dr Jamal Ouenniche, Professor & Chair in Business Analytics, University of Edinburgh – Business Analytics, AI Data Road Maps

Interview with Ben Goertzel Founder SingularityNet, OpenCog – Benevolent And Open AI, What Kind Of Evolutionary Mind Can We Engineer?

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Muhammad R. Chbib Biography

Muhammad R. Chbib has international experience as a manager who served several successful startups as well as large corporate organizations in Europe and MENA since the late 1990s. Moreover, Muhammad R. Chbib has advised leaders at some of the most prestigious Fortune 500 companies during his tenure between 2004 and 2010 at McKinsey & Company in their Middle East and German offices.

In 2011 Mr. R. Chbib moved to Dubai where he took over as CEO of which they successfully exited to in 2012 to form today’s largest commerce company in MENA and which was acquired by in 2017.

From 2015 to 2018 Mr. R. Chbib and his team created the Strategic Online Business Unit for Saudi listed travel giant Al Tayyar Group, leading their two brands tajawal and Almosafer to a total of close to USD 1 billion gross sales within three years only.

Muhammad R. Chbib is a German national of Syrian descent, a proud father and husband with a passion for entrepreneurship and coaching young aspiring leaders.

Links / Sources