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Innovation company aims to deliver £20m to economy by exploiting Wales’ AI potential 

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David Warrender, CEO of Innovation Point at Digital Festival

A digital innovation company based in south Wales has set a target of delivering £20m to the economy before 2030 by helping young tech companies exploit the growing market potential for artificial intelligence (AI).

Innovation Point works to connect private, academic and public sector partners in order to help tech sector SMEs secure the investment they need to grow.  The company recently marked two years of supporting the development of young companies in the tech sector, and has delivered nearly £3m of new investment into the economy since its inception.

David Warrender, CEO of Innovation Point said: “Artificial intelligence is everywhere, and with it has come immense economic potential. Advancements in robotics, language recognition software and automated data analysis tools are just a few examples of how AI is enabling companies to make their processes more efficient and exploit new markets.  Much of the innovation behind those advancements is coming from young companies in Wales.

“We are here to help those companies capitalise on this growing market potential, whether that be securing investment for growth, accessing new markets or augmenting their brand awareness on a global scale.  Innovation Point offers the expertise and support that can help turn their tech talent into business success.”

Innovation Point will also be working with universities in south Wales to triple the number of cyber and software graduates entering the sector over the next 10 years.

One company to benefit from Innovation Point’s support is University Cribs, a digital student property rental platform. University Cribs was a finalist on Innovation Point’s Digital Dozen accelerator programme, where its founders met serial entrepreneur and current chairman David Murray-Hundley.

Jack Jenkins, founder of University Cribs said: “Innovation Point gave us the opportunity to access expertise. David Murray-Hundley mentored us on a one-to-one basis throughout the Digital Dozen programme, and has since become our chairman.  When we were looking towards a funding round last year, his experience proved invaluable in helping us make some serious strategic business decisions.  In September 2017, we secured investment of £450,000.”

Manchester-based Coursematch, a social network designed to help young people research, compare and discuss their university and career options, secured £275,000 investment following an introduction to the Development Bank of Wales by Innovation Point.  Dhiraj Mukherjee, founder of the definitive song identification app, Shazam, was one of seven angel investors also to invest in the company.

Innovation Point was critical in persuading Coursematch to open an office in Cardiff ahead of any other UK city.

Joe Perkins, founder of Coursematch said: “When we started to consider expansion, Innovation Point highlighted Cardiff as a top city for tech companies looking to grow, and they have helped us make connections with leading universities here that are ready to do business.”

Representatives from Welsh Government, universities in south Wales, and SMEs to benefit from Innovation Point’s support recently joined the company on a boat trip to Flat Holm Island to celebrate two years of success for the company. The event coincided with the 121st anniversary of the first ever wireless radio transmission made across water by Guglielmo Marconi in 1897, between Flat Holm Island and Lavernock Point on the south Wales coast.

Innovation Point is now looking ahead to Digital Festival at Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay on May 21 and 22, which it organises in partnership with Welsh Government.

For more information on Innovation Point and its work visit: www.innovationpoint.uk

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EU sets itself jobs, training and equality targets for 2030

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EU sets itself jobs, training and equality targets for 2030 1

By Jan Strupczewski

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission on Thursday announced goals for the 27-nation bloc to reduce poverty, inequality and boost training and jobs by 2030 as part of a post-pandemic economic overhaul financed by jointly borrowed funds.

The EU executive arm said the European Union should boost employment to 78% in 2030 from 73% in 2019, halve the gap between the number of employed women and men and cut the number of young people neither working nor studying to 9% from 12.6%

“With unemployment and inequalities expected to increase as a fallout of the pandemic, focusing our policy efforts on quality job creation, up- and reskilling and reducing poverty and exclusion is therefore essential to channel our resources where they are most needed,” the commission said.

The goals, which will have to be endorsed by EU leaders, also include an increase in the number of adults getting training every year to adapt to the EU’s transition to a greener and more digitalised economy to 60% from 40% now.

Finally, over the next 10 years, the EU should reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by 15 million from 91 million in 2019.

“These three 2030 headline targets are deemed ambitious and realistic at the same time,” the commission said.

The goals are part of the EU’s set of 20 social rights, agreed on in 2017, to make the EU more appealing to voters and counter eurosceptic sentiment across the bloc.

They say everybody has the right to quality education throughout their lives and that men and women must have equal opportunities in all areas and be paid the same for work of equal value.

The unemployed have the right to “personalised, continuous and consistent support”, while workers have the right “to fair wages that provide for a decent standard of living”.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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UK aero-engineer Meggitt eyes return to growth after pandemic slump

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UK aero-engineer Meggitt eyes return to growth after pandemic slump 2

LONDON (Reuters) – British engineer Meggitt said that it could return to profit growth in 2021 provided there are no further lockdowns, despite a weakening in the struggling aviation market at the end of 2020 and early this year.

Pandemic restrictions halted much flying globally last year and forced plane makers Boeing and Airbus to cut production rates, dragging down suppliers like Meggitt, which makes and services parts for such aircraft.

Meggitt’s underlying operating profit plunged by 53% to 191 million pounds ($267 million) in 2020, it said on Thursday, despite continued growth in its defence business which makes parts for military jets and accounts for about 45% of the business.

Meggitt, however, said it expected air traffic to recover in the second half of the year which would help it return to profit growth over the year, although its guidance for flat revenue disappointed analysts who had expected growth of 6%.

Meggitt’s Chief Executive Tony Wood said in November that he had expected flying to start to recover by Easter, but new variants have led to more restrictions and delayed the recovery.

“It has gone back a couple of months… it’s now very much in the summer,” Wood said of the recovery in an interview on Thursday.

Further in the future, Meggitt is positioning itself for the move to lower emissions flying, and its sensors and electric motors will be used on electric urban air mobility platforms, such as flying taxis, and in hybrid aeroplanes being developed.

But Meggitt said new tax breaks announced in Britain’s annual budget on Wednesday aimed at encouraging investment would not change its plans.

“Yes, it will be a benefit. Are we looking at any acceleration as a result specifically of that? Not really,” Woods said.

Shares in Meggitt were down 1% to 427 pence at 0943 GMT. The stock has risen by 50% since news of a COVID-19 vaccine last November, but is still down 23% on where it was pre-pandemic.

($1 = 0.7165 pounds)

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Alistair Smout and Susan Fenton)

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UK’s Sunak will struggle with plan for tax hikes and spending cuts – IFS

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UK's Sunak will struggle with plan for tax hikes and spending cuts - IFS 3

LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will probably have to offer concessions to businesses if he wants to be able to implement a big hike in corporation tax that is at the centre of his new budget plan, a leading think tank said on Thursday.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies also said it was very unlikely that Sunak would be able to deliver the 17 billion pounds annual spending cuts included in his plan.

IFS director Paul Johnson said if the plan was implemented as announced on Wednesday, Sunak would meet one definition of a balanced budget – borrowing only to invest – by 2025-26.

“The sad truth is that that would be a balance built on the highest sustained tax burden in UK history and yet further cuts in unprotected public service spending,” Johnson said.

“That is perhaps one measure of the difficulties presented by more than a decade of paltry growth followed by the deepest recession in history.”

(Writing by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)

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