Due to be held online on 25 June, the International Investment Innovation Forum has long played host to such groundbreaking technological advances and provided them with concrete financial support, from guest investors to incubators. Taking place at the end of the month, the Forum will bring together a rich ecosystem of thought leaders, tech innovators and business magnates.
Other speakers that will take part in the forum include Vernon Sankey, Director Board Of Directors, Atos SE and top government officials like Mr. Shabbir Ali Qureshi – Minister of State for Housing and Works, Pakistan and Ms Dzuleira Abu Bakar – Group CEO at Technology Park Malaysia Corporation.
The Forum will also host the launch of OxValue.AI, a spin out social enterprise from the University offering a new way to determine the monetary value of a technology pre or post patent grant. OxValue.AI aims to facilitate the transfer of technology to developing countries as well as fund research within TMCD (Oxford). Professor Xiaolon Fu will introduce OxValue.AI while Professor Yu Xiong, Associate Dean International at Surrey University, presides over the launch and MoU signing.
As one of the fastest-growing digital business directory certifications and marketplaces, OBC coordinates global thought and business leaders with over twenty years of experience working with governments, business networks, tech ecosystems and universities, offering a business directory submission and digital blockchain AI certificate for both professionals and corporations. Joining forces with the TMCD centre of University of Oxford will create an unparalleled database of intelligence, knowledge and savoir faire regarding AI and its practical applications in financial scenarios such as funding, accounting and valuation.
In these uncertain times, we are faced with new challenges to our wellness and lifestyle, with our physical and mental health affected by stress, anxiety, lack of focus and fitness, sleep deprivation and disorders, and a host of many more issues.
The Global Wellness Institute has defined the concept of wellness as the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health. However, the concepts of wellness and wellbeing are slightly different. Wellbeing encompasses more than just physical health. Wellbeing is also the cultivation of healthy, strong relationships, of practising mindfulness, and a state of happiness and being comfortable, of giving of one’s self.
The rise of selftracking is an exciting development that can contribute to people being able to take charge of their own health and wellbeing. Other than that, cities are playing an increasing role in the promotion of wellness amongst their inhabitants. This is the new age of prevention: with companies like RoundGlass aiming to help people find balance, and the rise of meditation apps, it is now more accessible than ever to take personal wellbeing seriously.
2. Defining Wellness and Wellbeing
Defining wellness and wellbeing is critical for our times.
What does wellness mean?
One of the leading resources on global health, the World Health Organization, defines wellness as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity. Today, all dimensions of wellness are interrelated and crucial to a fulfilling life.
What does wellbeing mean?
Wellbeing is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy”.
Thus, it is easy to see how the modern definitions necessarily involve some “holistic element”. Holistic wellness will be defined below.
3. The business of wellness and wellbeing
Wellness and wellbeing have become measurable, opening the door to a new wellness digital economy and what we call Wellness or Wellbeing-as-a-Service (WaaS). This thriving sector attracted more than $2.2 billion in investment in what is now called WellTech. The market is anticipated to be valued at USD 4,377.95 millions by 2027. This sector is part of the growing $4.5 Trillion Wellness business, driven by the pursuit to merge with the healthcare industry, into a whole new market.
When we speak about wellness we need to consider the following sectors and economics and research by the Global Wellness Institute:
1. Personal care, beauty and anti-aging a $1.083 Trillion ecosystem;
2. Physical activity that represents a $828B Trillion ecosystem;
3. Wellness tourism – $639B;
4. Healthy, Eating, nutrition and weight loss – $702B;
5. Preventive and personalised medicine and public health;
6. Traditional and complementary Medicine – $360B;
7. Mental wellness – $121B;
8. Wellness real estate $134B;
9. SPA economy $119B;
10. Workplace wellness $43B;
11. Thermal / Mineral $56B
Some extra data important to consider before we start:
There are more than 2,500 meditation mobile applications have been launched since 2015;
Consumers Grabbing Hold of Their Health and Wellness Drives $450-Billion Opportunity.
4. Top Meditation Apps 2019
The top 10 meditation mobile applications generated a revenue of $195 million last year. The leading apps, @calm, @Headspace and @InsightTimer, lead the market, especially in the USA. US app users invest 63% of their total time spent on InsightTimer. Other main apps are Calm and Headspace. These have a strong business model and valuations of unicorns or close.
As the financial data at hand shows us, wellbeing and all wellness sectors are the next big industries to be disrupted by tech.
5. Why the Business of Meditation and App?
There are several reasons for this sudden surge of interest in meditation apps. The ease of access means that while people are still using these tools primarily for meditation, they are increasingly useful to create a moment of peace or of self-centring in the daily chaos of ever-changing lockdown regulations and the disruption of our lives. In these uncertain times where human connections have been severely disrupted, these apps can be a strong and effective way to connect with ourselves in a meaningful way, and help to reduce anxiety and the fatigue brought on by constant vigilance and social distancing.
Statistics from the US provide evidence on how Americans practise meditation on a regular basis to relax and unwind: the US is the prime market for meditation apps.
Other interesting statistics include an 800% surge in children practicing meditation in the past eight years, and the formation of a gender gap: women are shown to meditate more regularly than men. Moreover, smartphone and digital device users are preferring varied monthly subscription plans depending on timings.
Measuring wellbeing, wellness, happiness is more and more relevant because it is a better personal, social, professional and economic indicator and the next frontier of the health of a community, country, a company or a business. That is why the concept of Wellbeing-as-a-Service (WaaS) is a hot topic now.
The wellness wellbeing digital economy is not solely granted by new, disruptive technologies; but by what lies behind them: the human wellness factor.
6. Holistic Wellness
Understanding the concept of holistic wellness requires one to look at health as a dynamic and multidimensional concept. According to the Global Wellness Institute, “health as a continuum that extends from illness to a state of optimal wellbeing”.
On one end of the spectrum, patients with poor health engage the medical system, seeking help for their ailments. On the opposite end, people focus on prevention and improving the quality of their lives proactively, driven by self-responsibility.
The origins of holistic wellness are ancient, as the main tenets of wellness can be traced back to the ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome, and Asia.
3,000 – 1,500 BC: Ayurveda is holistic and it aims to create harmony between the body, mind, and spirit. It operates according to the principle that maintaining a balance in one’s life contributes to a long, healthy life. Yoga and meditation, as well as other mind-body-spirit practices also originated from India. From India also originated mind-body-spirit traditions such as yoga and meditation, which are increasingly practiced in modern, Western cultures.
3,000 – 2,000 BC: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the oldest systems of medicine in the world, with a holistic approach to wellness and health. Therapies that evolve out of TCM – such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, qi gong, tai chi – are not only still in practice, but are also increasingly being integrated into Western medical practices.
500 – 300 BC: Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates is considered to be the father of Western medicine; he was the first to focus on prevention of illness instead of simply the cure.
Further developments – more current times:
According to the Wellness Institute Whitepaper, in the 19th century, “new intellectual movements, spiritual philosophies, and medical practices proliferated in the United States and Europe. A number of alternative healthcare methods that focus on self-healing, holistic approaches, and preventive care – including homeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic, and naturopathy – were founded during this era and gained widespread popularity in both Europe and the United States”. These were based on the ancient ideas which were explained above.
In terms of how wellness was popularized in the 20th century, it was due to the work by physician Halbert L. Dunn, called High-Level Wellness (published in 1961). His ideas were then expanded upon by Dr. John W. Travis, Don Ardell, Dr. Bill Hettler, and others. These fathers of the wellness movement created the world’s first wellness center, developed the first university campus wellness center, and established the National Wellness Institute and National Wellness Conference in the United States.
The Wellness Institute explains that wellness has certain characteristics. The most important ones listed by the organization are:
1. Wellness is multidimensional
2. Wellness is holistic
3. Wellness changes over time and along a continuum
4. Wellness is individual, but also influenced by the environment
5. Wellness is a self-responsibility
It is clear that wellbeing is about more than just physical health. According to the Institute, there are at least 6 types of wellbeing. These are:
1. Physical: A healthy body through exercise, nutrition, sleep, etc.
2. Mental: Engagement with the world through learning, problem-solving, creativity, etc.
3. Emotional: Being in touch with, aware of, accepting of, and able to express one’s feelings (and those of others).
4. Spiritual: Our search for meaning and purpose in human existence.
5. Social: Connecting with, interacting with, and contributing to other people and our communities.
6. Environmental: A healthy physical environment free of hazards; awareness of the role we play in bettering rather than denigrating the natural environment.
7. The Opportunities Around Quantified Self, Datafication and Personal Wellness
One important thing for society in a world of technology and fast growing acceleration are the opportunities around quantified self, datafication, and personal wellness.
The quantified self refers both to the cultural phenomenon of self-tracking with technology; “self-knowledge through numbers”.
Quantimetric self-sensing was first used to sense and measure exercise and dietary intake in 2002:
“Sensors that measure biological signals, a personal data recorder that records. Lifelong videocapture together with blood-sugar levels, correlate blood-sugar levels with activities such as eating, by capturing a food record of intake”.
The “quantified self” or “self-tracking” are modern labels. The term “quantified self” seems to have been coined in San Francisco by Wired magazine editors Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly in 2007 as “a collaboration of users and tool makers who share an interest in self knowledge through self-tracking”. Later on, Wolf promoted the movement on TED, and also launched the first international self tracking conference in May 2011, in Mountain View, California.
Wolf’s idea was that companies who have large amounts of our data could use that as a force for good; and give people new ways to deal with medical problems, help sleep patterns, and improve diet.
As described by a paper from the Schumacher Institute, a good example of how self-tracking can be beneficial for the individual is shown by those who track in order to manage a chronic illness, such as type 1 diabetes.
Described by researchers as being “somewhat unique among chronic conditions in that it’s very data-intensive”, type 1 diabetics need to use technology to track and log their blood glucose levels on a regular basis.
Scientist Hayley McBain claims that other chronic illnesses, such as COPD and heart failure, also “respond positively to self-tracking methods, which results in the decrease in hospital admission rates for those who regularly selftracked”. This is important, as it gives people the power over their own health outcomes.
The writer for the Schumacher Institute explored his personal experience with selftracking in the context of diabetes:
“I have personal experience of the individual benefits that self-tracking can have on my management of the condition, especially in the context of information exchange via the internet.
Gathering data of my blood sugar in relation to factors such as exercise, food intake, and timings of meals allows me to note down values which I would like to adjust.
This process has been made faster and more constructive by the use of online forums, such as on the website Reddit or Diabetes.co.uk, where questions can be posed to other type 1 diabetics complete with necessary information and figures that are specific to me. In contrast with the process of booking an appointment with an endocrinologist, this process is far more convenient and allows for the ‘fine-tuning’ of the multitude of variables that must be considered when living with this disease. This is an example of what Briggs would describe as the empowering effect of the quantified self, as instead of being confined to the rigid and removed world of the public health sector, patients are able to take ownership of their condition by treating it with precise and personalised methods”.
Despite self-tracking being seemingly an individual endeavour, it is becoming a more and more socialised phenomenon as social media platforms allow for users to share data, methods, and results. Scientist Btihaj Ajana explained the reasons for this: these media platforms work “as a source of encouragement and acknowledgement, which are effective motivators for people to continue to self-track; to enhance expertise via the wisdom of the crowd”.
One example can be the cycling and running tracking app Strava. It encourages competition between users. According to Jesse Couture from University of British Columbia, “Strava can be a source of motivation and entertainment for its users, and even help to establish or strengthen social networks, but the platform also invites users to adopt and adapt to technologically-mediated surveillance strategies that encourage and reward displays of bodily self-discipline”.
8. Why Cities and Governments Need to Focus on Wellness, Wellbeing
It is not difficult to see why governments should focus on the wellbeing of their citizens. The whole of the healthcare system relies on that, and promoting prevention of illness can positively affect healthcare capacity. What about cities?
Health and well-being in the cities is a critical matter: “it is a public health issue that will result in widespread human distress and enormous financial costs in the long-run if we do not take the appropriate measures in the short term”.
According to the King’s Fund Whitepaper, in the case of UK:
• Elected mayors and other city leaders have “soft powers beyond their formal responsibilities that they can use to drive pro-health policies”.
• Compared with other countries, “the fiscal regime in the UK is highly centralised, with more than 90 percent of tax revenue being raised at the national level. Policy-makers should explore the case for giving cities further fiscal and regulatory freedoms to enable them to tackle population health challenges more effectively”.
Case study: environmental wellbeing / climate change
There is an increasing role of cities in promoting environmental sustainability. As the King’s Fund argues, cities such as New York, London, Copenhagen, Paris, Barcelona, Oslo, Stockholm and Vancouver have committed themselves to carbon reduction targets, which are more extensive than the Paris climate accord ones.
And whilst the US national government decided to pull out of the Paris agreement, almost 250 US cities have agreed to continue honouring the commitments. It is clear that the actions cities can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions also confer health benefits for the citizens.
9. Case study RoundGlass
A case study for a company that is in the holistic wellness space, can be done using the example of RoundGlass. RoundGlass is a global Wholistic Wellbeing* company founded in 2014, dedicated to empowering and enabling people on their personal wellbeing journey.
Wholistic wellbeing is a concept centred around the words: whole + wellbeing = wholistic wellbeing. The mission of RoundGlass is to “inspire people to embrace a life of Wholistic Wellbeing to create a happier, healthier, and more joyful world” and “to transform the prevailing reaction-based approach in the healthcare world to one that’s proactive, focused on prevention in addition to treatment”.
The full RoundGlass experience consists of various initiatives, all of which are described below:
• RoundGlass Meditation Collective: A new method to life through meditation leads to more harmony, clarity, confidence, and joy.
• RoundGlass End of Life (EOL) Collective: Turning one of life’s taboo conversations into a deeply engaging, insightful, compassionate, and empowering experience.
• RoundGlass Sustain: Bringing India’s rich biodiversity to a global audience in a media-rich digital encyclopedia of the species and ecosystems.
• RoundGlass Sports: Investing in the future of Indian sport through world-class coaching and talent development and a fully integrated Wholistic Wellbeing approach.
• RoundGlass Foundation: Driving Initiatives to bring sustainable improvements in wellbeing across all aspects of life in villages and underserved communities.
Most of their work is currently being done in India. Yoga and Ayurveda have been benefitting Indian people since ancient times, but over the years these wholistic concepts have gained more popularity in the Western world. RoundGlass is currently working on executing the model village projects in Punjab and after their successful implementation, we plan to go pan-India.
RoundGlass services offer a range of wellbeing experts and meditation and mindfulness teachers offering classes and courses in physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. More about teachers and their stories can be found here.
RoundGlass are working with 90 villages in Punjab and plan to expand to 150 villages. The initiatives that they implemented in these villages range from creating football academies, installing solar panels, and establishing proper waste management mechanisms, to setting up Learn Labs in schools.
In a village near Mohali, RoundGlass’ sports programme has helped significantly curb drug addiction. Involving young people in sports such as football has given them something to work on and perfect, which contributed to creating a more widespread sense of purpose in the community.
The Wellness Digital Economy is growing. Even though holistic wellness has its roots in ancient times, it is currently going through a revival. With the rates of depression and anxiety rising in previous years, it is now vital that the appropriate wellbeing tools are at one’s disposal. The market has responded to the need: the meditation app boom has followed, alongside the trend of “the quantified self”. Furthermore, companies like RoundGlass are trying to create a new paradigm of prevention instead of simply curing illnesses. The idea is to transform the prevailing reaction-based approach in the healthcare world to one“that’s proactive, focused on prevention in addition to treatment”.
Workplace Wellness and Employee Mental Health—An Emerging Investor Priority, Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance. Posted by Andrea K. Wahlquist, Sabastian V. Niles, and Lauren M. Kofke, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
indexDNA Framework for Smart Cities is the name given to the smart city index developed by citiesabc in collaboration with the University of Durham. It captures the complex relationship between citizens, industry, policymaking and society.
“Cities are estimated to generate 80% of all economic growth and produce approximately 72% of all greenhouse gas emissions, despite covering only 3% of the land (UN). Urban city regions account for more than 50% of the total global population and is expected to be around 70% by 2050 (United Nations). This unprecedented movement towards urbanisation is growing at an exponential rate and is projected to be as high as 90% in some countries – notably in Asia and Africa – by 2050 (UN). Governments have been reactive to this migration trend and are experimenting with emerging and established technologies to provide services and solutions to this new wave [of] urbanisation. Many cities are taking proactive steps to make their cities ‘digitised’ or ‘smarter’. Such initiatives are called ‘smart city’ initiatives and are primarily focused on using a collection of technologies to provide timely and effective services to citizens.” (Professor Kiran Fernandes)
Despite the proliferation of smart city indexes emerging in response to the growing challenges of urbanisation, none so far have managed to rise above a static approach. The indexDNA Framework for Smart Cities whitepaper provides a comprehensive overview of a new, dynamic framework, based on the Quadruple Helix Innovation model.
The index is data-driven and gives a holistic view of a smart city on several dimensions like the economy, mobility, education, environment, governance and quality of life. indexDNA Framework for Smart Cities serves several purposes, from benchmarking cities to developing effective policies for transition to Society 5.0.
This report is a piece of academic literature which details the research and elaboration process behind the index, explaining how different metrics and data are applied to create an index which reflects real-time smart city development through advanced analytics. Diagrams are used to illustrate the multidirectional feedback systems that exist between key stakeholders, and the interactions between each layer of the indexDNA Framework for Smart Cities.
“We realised that smart city indexes operated within a static framework, making the results unreliable and in constant need of updates. Our approach is a dynamic one, identifying smart cities as human-centric and analysing the multidirectional feedback systems between the different pillars that make up a smart city. We are thrilled to have collaborated with the Centre for Innovation and Technology Management at the Durham University Business School, whose academic insights and deep research were crucial to creating our indexDNA. In doing this, we hope to set the blueprint for future smart city indexes and rankings,” said Dinis Guarda, one of the authors and CEO of citiesbc and openbusinesscouncil.
Professor Kiran Fernandes, Professor and Associate Dean, Durham University Business School
Provided the conceptual framework for the whitepaper, analysis of the data and drafted the report
Mr Dinis Guarda, CEO, Ztudium
Supplied the context, assisted with interpretation of the context, and helped draft the report
Mr William Hosie, Research Associate, Ztudium
Researched the conceptual framework for the whitepaper, assisted the analysis of the data, and drafted the report
Professor Jamal Ouenniche, Professor in Business Analytics, University of Edinburgh
Assisted with interpretation of the context and helped draft the report
Mr Hilton Supra, CBDO and Vice Chairman, Ztudium
Helped draft the report
Professor Miguel Amaral
Assistant Professor, University of Lisbon, IST
Mr Robert Bell
CEO, Global Gateways Foundation
Dr Atanu Chaudhuri
Associate Professor in Technology Management, Durham University
Mr Antonio de S. Limongi França
Consultant and manager at LF1 Technological Innovation and Organisational Strategies
Mr David L. Kasten
CEO, Poolbeg Group
Professor Yipeng Liui
Director of the Centre for China Management and Global Business (CMGB), Reading University
Dr Nick Rousseau
CEO, Unconventional Connections Ltd
Professor Yu Xiong
Chair of Business Analytics and Associate Dean International, University of Surrey
The report encourages readers to understand the smart city concept as human-centric rather than technology-centric; technology is not the root source of a smart city’s intelligence, but rather an enabler for it. The report also emphasises the importance of using smart technologies to integrate cyberspace and physical space. Finally, the report intends for readers to view the co-evolving core of the indexDNA framework as important to any smart city indexing activity, as it shows the importance of the citizen as well as the citizen’s relationship to the smart service systems.
The report will be launched at the OBC summit on Tuesday 20 April at 8am GMT. The OBC summit is a 3-day virtual conference on systems and solutions for businesses and governments to boost sales and growth amidst the challenges and restructurings faced by organisations and cities because of COVID-19. The summit provides a unique platform for both businesses and governments to promote their ideas and gain exposure with a global outreach through openbusinesscouncil awards and digital certification.
citiesabc.com is a platform for smarter cities and their creative industries – art, music and film NFT marketplace network. citiesabc offers tools to the organisations and the people of the cities.
World Smart Cities Forum is a non-profit organisation established to assist local governments and municipalities to solve current urban challenges by building and developing human-centric smart cities around the world.
The tech industry and diversity have long been antonyms. Yet tech is poised to become the top sector of employment by the end of the pandemic, and is currently growing three times faster than the rest of the economy (diversityintech.co.uk). What are the benefits of ending the W.E.I.R.D monopoly on tech careers?
Simeon Quarrie, founder and CEO at VIVIDA, which creates immersive training experience for cybersecurity, explains: “At the moment, the tech industry doesn’t reflect the society it was built to serve. Most people are drawn to industries where they can see people like them excelling in them. You see someone like you doing well in an industry and are inspired to follow in their footsteps.”
There has been a push for greater diversity in the tech workforce; with greater representation comes a greater range of perspectives and information processing styles. It is understood that this would yield more innovative results, which would have the added benefit of being better suited to general application by the public. Examples of a lack of diversity leading to mixed results in the past include the first release of Apple’s HealthKit app in 2014, which was originally unable to acknowledge women’s menstrual cycles, or digital soap dispensers in the UK built on face-recognition technology which were unable to recognise dark skin.
Diversity in tech has long been a contentious subject; in the West, the discourse centres chiefly on gender imbalance, as reflected in the ongoing discussion about the lack of women in STEM subjects at university level. There are also qualms and concerns at career level; a recent survey from BIMA (British Interactive Media Association), which asked 3,000 people to explore their experience of diversity as members of the UK technology community, found that 35% of women feel their gender has negatively affected their career progression.
This is symptomatic of a wider discrimination problem: the same survey revealed that 14% of respondents believe their ethnicity has negatively affected their career progression, with nearly a third (32%) of people of Asian and South East Asian descent, and 40% of people from an Afro-Caribbean and mixed heritage background, saying they have experienced negative discrimination as a result of their ethnicity (itpro.co.uk).
This also plays off wider concerns about cognitive diversity; certain psychologists refer to the need for ‘neurodivergent’ minds. Put simply, having a ‘diversity of minds’ can help with problem solving and lateral thinking, allowing teams to overcome challenges more efficiently. According to the Harvard Business Review, teams who are cognitively diverse solve problems faster than teams who are cognitively similar. Diversity thus serves as a performance booster.
Interestingly, the Tech Talent Charter’s annual benchmarking report from January 2020 found that gender representation was better in micro-organisations than in larger companies, with 42% female staff in technical roles in micro organisations compared to 24% in large companies within its signatories. This shows that building a close-knit team and fostering a trustful relationship between coworkers is fundamental.
Having a team which is diverse, inclusive and transparent is key to success as it is also conducive to psychological safety, allowing each employee to “voice their different views,” according to Diversity In Tech. Indeed, it has been found that “employees who think their organisation is committed to improving and supporting diversity, increases they ability to innovate by 83%” (ibid). Moreover, an inclusive workplace “can create positive word of mouth for people you want to hire and develop.” And they added:“The cost of hiring and training a new worker is around 20% or more of a person’s annual salary. Avoiding turnover also gives a powerful message about culture.”
But where to start? Multi-award-winning diversity and inclusion expert Perrine Farque, who serves as a judge at the Diversity in Tech Awards, recommends that companies “make diversity a part” of their “culture”:
“Hiring diverse talents starts before searching for candidates and collecting CVs. If you don’t have the fundamentals in place in your organisation, your efforts will fail. Take a moment to revisit your company culture before starting a new candidate search.”
Minor structural tweaking will not suffice; tech companies lacking in diversity at any level, from IT to corporate management, will need to overhaul their present recruitment model to ensure longevity. In a post-pandemic landscape where technology is common currency, diversity is a make-or-break deal.
Amidst the pandemic, the tech sector is seeing growth and has the second highest number of jobs advertised following the healthcare sector.
Online digital skills courses provided by IoC partners have enrolled more than 600,000 learners to date, boosting their employability (almost 20% of learners on these courses are unemployed or looking for work and more than 50% are over the age of 25).
The IoC is addressing the national digital skills crisis along with the tech sector, which will play a critical role in the UK’s economic recovery.
In a survey of IoC learners, 52% of respondents said they don’t currently work in tech, but would like to move into a tech role or are in interested in tech.
The Institute of Coding is supporting the UK’s national economic recovery by helping people upskill and reskill for jobs in tech
The Institute of Coding (IoC), a government-supported initiative designed to respond to the UK’s digital skills gap, is upskilling and reskilling a diverse group of people through university level digital skills courses, many of which are available online. By addressing the national skills crisis through the provision of flexible, short courses that have been created with input from major employers, the IoC is contributing to an inclusive, tech-driven economic recovery, with no one left behind.
Sheila Flavell CBE, COO of FDM Group and Chair of the IoC’s Industry Advisory Board, said: “The upskilling of the UK’s workforce is critical to our national economic recovery. We need to safeguard the pipeline of talent that is being created by the Institute of Coding’s sector-leading university and industry collaboration in order to ensure that all people can take advantage of the high-quality employment opportunities that are available in tech.”
Julian David, CEO of techUK, the UK’s leading technology membership organisation, said: “Research from techUK shows that 71% of managers and decision makers believe that businesses will become more dependent on digital technology due to the pandemic.
“Our members have a growing need for employees with all levels of digital skills, from cyber security and data science specialists to people with more generalised digital and tech knowledge. A lack of digital skills and expertise is one key barrier they face when it comes to fully adopting digital technologies. Online learning is a great way for people to expand and upgrade their skills and will allow more of us to take advantage of the opportunities available in the tech sector.”
The IoC’s short, flexible online courses are a proven pathway that people are using to upskill and reskill in digital, boosting their employment prospects. In a November survey with responses from more than 1,000 learners who have enrolled on one or more IoC-supported online course:
75% said their digital skills had improved as a result of the course
57% felt more prepared for their future career
55% have more confidence working in tech
Further, 52% of people said they don’t currently work in tech, but would like to move into a tech role or are interested in tech. This feedback confirms the high level of interest in upskilling or reskilling for a career in tech, and the IoC is addressing this need.
The IoC project is currently scheduled to end on 31st March 2021, at a time where the national need for a pivot to digital skills education and training will be more important than ever.
Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President of techUK and IoC Co-Chair, said: “There has never been a more critical time to learn how to live and work online. Economic recovery will be slower if this digital skills crisis is not addressed. The Institute of Coding is injecting targeted learning opportunities to pivot large numbers of learners across the country towards its new digital reality. Having enrolled 675,000 people on innovative and accessible digital skills courses, the IoC widens pathways for diverse talent to improve employability and prepare us all for what comes next.”
In response to the G20 Leaders’ Declaration, the Women 20 (W20), the non-governmental women’s engagement group to the G20, welcomes the G20 leaders’ commitment to lead the world “in shaping a strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive post-COVID-19 era,” which specifically recognizes the critical role for women and girls in rebuilding our economies.
The W20, recognizing the many pressing concerns before G20 leaders, especially during this global pandemic, is committed to supporting G20 members to achieve our mutual goals for an equitable, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive recovery from the health, social, and economic crisis the world is currently facing due to COVID-19.
Women’s Empowerment: As many women have been disproportionately affected by the crisis, we will work to ensure that the pandemic does not widen gender inequalities and undermine the progress made in recent decades. Recalling relevant UN declarations, processes, and calls to action to empower women and girls, we reaffirm the importance of women’s and girls’ empowerment as a cross-cutting issue in all aspects of our policies and recognize that women are a key driver of economic growth. We will continue to promote gender equality, as well as combat stereotypes, reduce pay gaps, and address the unequal distribution of unpaid work and care responsibilities between men and women. We will step up our efforts towards achieving the Brisbane Goal to reduce the gap in labor force participation between men and women by 25 percent by 2025 along with improving the quality of women’s employment; we call on ILO and OECD to continue providing input to support our progress; and look forward to a roadmap under the next Presidency. We will take steps to remove the barriers to women’s economic participation and entrepreneurship. We welcome the commencement, under the Saudi Presidency, of the Private Sector Alliance for the Empowerment and Progression of Women’s Economic Representation (EMPOWER) for women’s advancement in leadership positions.
The specific recognition of “the importance of protecting and promoting decent jobs for all, especially for women and youth” and of supporting “access to comprehensive, robust, and adaptive social protection for all, including those in the informal economy” is critical for ensuring the conscious and planned inclusion of women in the economy. Likewise, the endorsement of the G20 High-level Policy Guidelines on Digital Financial Inclusion for Youth, Women, and SMEs prepared by the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) is key for inclusive economic growth.
The W20 is encouraged by the G20 leaders’ call on the ILO and the OECD to continue providing technical input to support monitoring G20 progress on women’s empowerment, as called for the W20 Communiqué, and the call for the Italian Presidency to lay out a roadmap for action. Recognizing the importance of collecting sex-disaggregated data and of establishing mechanisms to track G20 gender policy commitments, the Saudi Arabian W20 Presidency, in consultation with the OECD, has initiated work on a G20 gender policy tracker: Monitoring G20 commitments on gender equality and women’s empowerment. The W20 is confident that this will be an important contribution to the G20 Italian Presidency roadmap and beyond.
“Twenty-five years after world leaders gathered in Beijing to agree on the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing women’s rights, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, G20 leaders must continue to diligently work toward closing the gaps that prevent gender equity at the national level,” said Dr. Thoraya Obaid, W20 Chair, recalling a previous W20 statement.
As a number of the W20 Communiqué policy recommendations are reflected in the Leaders’ Declaration, the W20 calls on G20 members to implement these recommendations at the national level. The policy recommendations included in the W20 Communiqué provide a starting point and a framework for change, but immediate action must be taken to translate the recommendations into policies on the ground in each and every country.
“Gender parity is still an aspiration, not a reality. The COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened the need to expedite measures to promote women’s economic empowerment as a means of accelerating recovery to alleviate the adverse effects of the pandemic,” said Dr. Obaid.
“Our work is far from done. In the months and years ahead, we must keep women at the forefront in all decision-making and diligently continue our collective efforts to close the gaps that prevent gender equity.”
Global cybercrime costs will exceed $6 Trillion in the next years. From virtual bank heists to semi-open attacks from nation-states, the last couple of years has been rough on IT security, and has just been accelerated by the digitisation brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. To defend your business, multi-factor authentication and encryption are the biggest hacker obstacles.
Studies suggest that there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds while 300,000 new malware is created every day. As of 2018, there were more than 800 million malware infections from 12.4 million back in 2009, being small and medium businesses one of the main targets for these attacks. In fact, the average cost of data for corporations breaches is $150+ million.
The lack of preparation & cybersecurity strategy will have devastating effects on the integrity & survival of businesses & governments. Cyber-threats is a reflection of lack of preparation and a weakness in an organization’s structure.
Malware + web-based attacks continue to be the most expensive cybersecurity issues The cost of Ransomware (21%) and Malicious insider (15%) attacks types have been grown year after year. 92% of malware is delivered by email. Among all types of cybersecurity attacks, hackers have found that phishing attacks are the most successful. This has been accelerated by the COVID-19 outbreak. Since the pandemic started there has been an uptick in sophisticated phishing email schemes by cybercriminals. Malicious actors are posing as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO) representatives. These emails are designed to deceive and trick recipients into taking an action such as clicking a malicious link, or opening an attachment with a virus.
Other types of cybersecurity attacks include:
A MITM (man-in-the-middle) attack is where the attacker intercepts and relays messages between two parties who believe they are interacting with one another.
It is also known as an eavesdropping attack. Once attackers are in the conversation, they can filter, manipulate, and steal sensitive information.
Distributed denial-of-service attack
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks bombard an organization’s central server with simultaneous data requests. Multiple compromised systems are used to generate these data requests.
A DDoS attack aims to stop the server from fulfilling legitimate requests, providing a situation for criminal hackers to extort the victim for money.
SQL (Structured Query Language) is used in programming and is designed to manage data in relational database management systems.
During SQL injections, criminal hackers insert malicious code into the server that uses SQL, which makes the server reveal sensitive information.
When a network vulnerability is announced, there is a window of time before a patch or solution is used to fix it. Within that timeframe, cyber attackers will exploit the vulnerability.
The Deep And Dark Web
The dark web is a small subset of the deep web, which is part of the internet that is not found using search engines. That includes many websites that require users to log in with an username and password, and the deep web is estimated to be about 400 to 500 times larger than the common internet.
The dark web is a subset of the deep web that is intentionally hidden, requiring a specific browser—Tor—to access.
Type of Hackers
There are generally 10-types of Hackers: 1. White Hat Hackers; 2. Black Hat Hackers; 3. Gray Hat Hackers; 4. Script Kiddies 5. Green Hat Hackers 6. Blue Hat Hackers 7. Red Hat Hackers 8. State/Nation Sponsored Hackers 9. Hacktivist 10. Malicious Insider or Whistleblower.
White Hat Hackers are the ones authorized or certified hackers who work for the government and organizations by performing penetration testing and identifying loopholes in their cybersecurity. There are over 715,000 cybersecurity experts employed in the US alone HackerOne for example represents a community of over 300,000 white hackers.
Cybersecurity and Businesses
How Can You Identify Cybersecurity issues such as Malware Infections on Your business, organisation PC, Mac, or Mobile?
Information + Data Security is the fastest growing component of businesses’ and organizations’ competitive strategy. The direct collection, management, and interpretation of business information, data, IP or the retention of day-to-day business intelligence processing is becoming the biggest asset for businesses and governments, and hackers know of their importance and value.
An accurate vision of digital and behavioral gaps is crucial for a consistent business and organisation cyber-resilience. The basics have been around for a long time, but they still represent the first barrier against a cybersecurity breach: Antivirus and anti-malware.
“Passwords are like underwear: don’t let people see it, change it very often, and you shouldn’t share it with strangers.” Chris Pirillo
Likewise, common sense and IT literacy play a big role when setting up a cybersecurity defence. Obvious signs of malware infection is the increased presence of ads, banners, pop-ups, spam, alerts, and other unwanted communications. Any notable increase in these ads or pop ups is a clear indication that malware has infected your computer. You may even be alerted to the presence of malware with an announcement to that effect: Your System Has Been Hijacked. If security were all that mattered, computers and IT systems would never be turned on, let alone hooked into a network with literally millions of potential intruders
The cybersecurity market is continuing its stratospheric growth and hurtling towards the trillion dollar mark: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and few minutes of cyber-incident to ruin it,” said cybersecurity expert Stephane Nappo.
Leaders need to nurture a cybersecurity culture message of influence because security is a culture and you need the business to take place and be part of that security culture.
How ready is your business for a cybersecurity hacking?
Months of 24/7 occupation have fundamentally transformed the role of the home
Consumers’ collective concerns about hygiene, wellbeing and immunity will continue to influence how we live
Homes will adapt to become ‘blended spaces’, able to fluidly facilitate different kinds of work, rest, recuperation and play
“The Age of Nesting”, a new report released by Beko, Europe’s leading home appliance brand, in collaboration with The Future Laboratory, explores the long-term impact of Covid-19 on the home.
Pre-pandemic, we existed in an era of Hyper Visibility – where presenteeism, non-stop scrolling and a focus on the ‘experience economy’ dominated our attention and our eyelines.
Under lockdown our attention turned inwards. The home became a workspace, school, gym, restaurant, hospital and even holiday home; forcing people to undertake all areas of their once external lives within the home space. The report forecasts that this shift towards a more local, internally focused mindset is set to remain, heralding a new Age of Nesting.
“The outbreak of Covid-19 turned public spaces into no-go zones and forced residents around the world to suddenly retreat into their apartments and houses. As a result, the way in which we use our homes has undergone a significant transformation,” stated the report.
As a result, a shift to homeworking, a boom in at home entertainment and domestic wellness are just three emergent trends that have been realised overnight; and by 2030, the Age of Nesting will be in full flow. The legacy of lockdown, combined with new behavioural shifts, will have fundamentally transformed where we live, how we live, and the homes we live in:
Rurban Revolution – an increased focus on health, hygiene and recuperative living will lead to an urban exodus that will reboot the suburbs, exurbs and rural areas, while providing cities with an opportunity to become more human-centric. Young people who were previously drawn to cities are finding that high rents, relatively low salaries and the impact of city life is having a detrimental effect on health, leading to Millennial and Generation Z Nesters looking to rural and city-adjacent areas for better physical and emotional wellbeing.
Multi-modal Properties – the home will adapt to become a ‘blended space’, able to fluidly facilitate different kinds of work, rest, recuperation and play. Whether in re-imagined mega-cities or rurban hubs, Generation Nesters’ reliance on the home will lead to space utilisation and functionality placed at the top of the agenda.
‘Community is making a comeback in a big way, and this will continue as we see the rise of working near home, as well as working from home. Today, co-working spaces like WeWork occupy central city locations, but we’ll see the rise of community hubs that are multi-functional, offering for example spaces for art projects and support to the elderly, as well as a mobile workforce’
Pandemic-proof Living – consumers’ collective concerns about hygiene, wellbeing and immunity will persist and shape the younger generation, with the home of the future viewed as a pandemic-proof space and hyper-hygienic, super-sustainable innovations coming to the fore. Home innovations are being designed to reduce exposure to viruses and pollutants and to maximise personal hygiene. Just like the vanity room – a place to wash your hands when entering the home which developed in the wake of the Spanish flu – houses will have entrances where decontamination can take place as you move from the outside world to your inner sanctuary.
Hakan Bulgurlu, CEO of Arçelik, Beko’s parent company, said: “The past nine months have changed our lives forever, and businesses and governments have an important role to play to help us adapt to this new world order. The home in particular will undergo a radical shift, as we rethink where and how we live and look for solutions that reflect increasing concerns over hygiene, sustainability and wellness. This report outlines the trends we can expect to see over the next ten years, and some of the innovations that will help us tackle today’s biggest problems.”
Chris Sanderson, co-founder of The Future Laboratory said: “Now, more than ever, brands and organisations must be prepared for a future in which they help humankind to feel secure, supported and inspired. If businesses aren’t prepared for this, in many ways they deserve to become the casualties of a new paradigm shift in how we broker the way we live, work and play.”
The Lifetime Skills Guarantee Scheme is a welcomed step in the right direction, but more is needed to help reduce unemployment in the short term, says the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB).
According to the Prime Minister’s announcement, adults without an A-Level or equivalent qualification will be offered a free, fully-funded college course – providing them with skills valued by employers, and the opportunity to study at a time and location that suits them.
This offer will be available from April in England, and will be paid for through the National Skills Fund. A full list of available courses will be set out shortly.
Higher education loans will also be made more flexible, allowing adults and young people to space out their study across their lifetimes, take more high-quality vocational courses in further education colleges and universities, and to support people to retrain for jobs of the future.
These reforms will be backed by continued investment in college buildings and facilities – including over £1.5 billion in capital funding.
Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of NCUB said: “The announcement is a step in the right direction for both employees and employers alike. New measures to transform the training and skills system and to prepare workers for a post-Covid economy are urgently needed, and we are pleased that the Prime Minister has acknowledged this in his speech today.”
Marshall continued: “Equally significant from the Prime Minister was the importance of giving further flexibility to learners. It was announced today that higher education loans will be made more flexible to allow adults to space out study across their lifetimes, allowing them to retrain for new careers as the economy changed. What’s more the courses offered will provide students with skills valued by employers. These are long overdue measures and may well be the lifeline that is needed.”
Marshall concluded: “However the scale of the problem we face means that it will not be fixed with this new measure alone, especially given that most of these new measures will come into play in April. For young people especially, this will be viewed as too little too late. Already the number of employees aged 16-24 in the UK on payrolls in August was down around 156,000 compared to March 2020. Without proper support in place immediately, we expect these figures to significantly worsen in a further six months’ time. Indeed, the Office for Budget Responsibility, have forecasted that in a worst-case scenario the unemployment rate could peak at 13.2%, in 2021 – with four million people out of work. We are calling on the Government to offer further support immediately – we simply cannot wait for unemployment to worsen before acknowledging it. We look forward to seeing the further education white paper later this year which we hope will build on today’s announcement.”
This year’s Ravensbourne virtual degree show is a fantastic platform for every student to showcase their work and represents Ravensbourne’s diverse community of students and their ability to transform themselves and their creativity. Taking place on 10 September, it was created by a group of talented students, and developed by Ravensbourne’s in-house creative agency, CreativeLab.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it became clear that their annual physical degree show would have to adapt if they wanted to showcase the graduating classes work. CreativeLab developed a visual language and identity that represented the Ravensbourne Class of 2020. The site can be navigated in a number of different ways, through specific courses and tags, to viewing students side by side, and even picking from a random selection. Each detail of the digital showcase has been taken into consideration throughout the development process and has been established to further highlight the individuality of our creative cohort. Even the cursor which is used to navigate the online showcase portrays the transference of diverse energy on each page, sometimes smaller, sometimes larger, but always present for the viewer.
The online degree show provides a platform for every graduating student to showcase their best work and celebrate the end of their time at Ravensbourne. This year’s digitally converted degree show captures the Ravensbourne mentality of putting students at the heart of everything they do.
“Our cohort of students is built on unique and diverse individuals who have shown that through the power of community and collaboration, we are able to curate an incredible exhibition in the midst of a pandemic. The exciting virtual experience highlighting students’ best work, live projects and awards can be found in one online portal which will take the viewer on a journey through different visual collections,” Ravensbourne said.
In fact, Ravensbourne has built a reputation on producing some of the finest creative talents in the industry, with 90% of their graduates going into work or further study, students winning industry-leading awards and an innovative approach to creative education.
CreativeLabis part of Ravensbourne’s new Institute for Creativity and Technology and is due to open in 2021. CreativeLab provides brand stories, in-course integrations and one-off commercial design services through creative, socially-minded and purpose-led projects.
They connect partners with the Institute’s diverse community of students, researchers and creative industry contacts, catalysing impactful collaborations, products and initiatives.
CreativeLab offers dedicated project management support which allows access resources and knowledge from across the university, alongside their extensive experience of delivering commercial projects in partnership.
Pippa Alice Hogg, Head of Studio, CreativeLab explained, ‘“CreativeLab are honoured to have been able to bring the concept designed by students for a live show to life in a digital space. We wanted to create a platform where student work is celebrated and the identity can subtly guide you through a curated experience that feels like a live show. Like everything at Ravensbourne, this was a truly collaborative project and we are grateful to all those involved.”
Ravensbourne University Londonis an innovative, industry-focused university located at the heart of London’s newest creative community on the Greenwich Peninsula. We’re champions of creativity and collaboration, dedicated to giving our learners the specialist skills and opportunities they need for outstanding careers in digital media and design.
You can join them on Thursday 10 September for the private view launch.
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