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RESEARCH SUGGESTS TECHNOLOGY AWARENESS IS KEY TO INCREASING R&D IN BRITISH BUSINESSES

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RESEARCH SUGGESTS TECHNOLOGY AWARENESS IS KEY TO INCREASING R&D IN BRITISH BUSINESSES

Senior Executives believe increasing the awareness of technology’s impact on improving cost and time efficiency could improve U.K. companies’ ability to get new products to market

While the majority of businesses agree that the introduction of new products and services is either fairly or very important to their success, over half of them do not use any type of IT software effectively to accelerate its research and development (R&D) process, a new study by YouGov has unveiled today.

The YouGov study, commissioned by Appian, interviewed 700 senior decision makers from small to large enterprises to explore the extent that British businesses value and are investing in research and development in 2016.

The study demonstrates that R&D does not share the same level of priority by the British business community as other growth markets around the world.  The main keys to improving R&D that were identified as part of the survey include the perception of senior decision makers around cost and time implications, as well as technology’s impact on those factors, as well as increasing investment in the form of people and money.

Respondents to the survey identified other keys to improving the R&D process:

  • Unlock the power of technology:Only a tenth believe IT software tools are accelerating the testing of new products “very effectively”, while nearly a quarter (22 per cent) characterize the use of these tools as not very or not at all effective. However, 41 per cent of respondents agree that access to more effective technology and IT software tools would improve the time-to-market of new products and services in their business

Additionally, survey revealed that more than half of businesses of all sizes utilize Microsoft Office based applications as its IT software used to manage the development of new products and services. An additional 18 per cent said their business does not use any tools or software

  • Modernize data collection:  Only a quarter (25 per cent) use digital customer relationship management for gathering data from customers to inform R&D processes. The majority of businesses rely on traditional methods such as customer/client meetings (50 per cent), outgoing calls (30 per cent), and feedback forms (28 per cent) Moreover, 17 per cent of respondents in large businesses said that the inability to act on insights gained from customer data quickly is an obstacle
  • Invest more aggressively: Of the large businesses surveyed, almost a quarter (24 per cent) of them believe legal or legislative concerns are a major barrier to R&D, with 23 per cent agreeing that lack off financial investment impedes product development

Samir Gulati, SVP of Marketing, Appian, said: “The study results are enlightening, as they reveal that using technology to support business innovation may not be top-of-mind for a large proportion of UK businesses. We have entered a super-connected world in which the majority of customer feedback exists digitally. It is essential that businesses capture and analyse this data, and quickly act on it in their development processes. Technology platforms can help in two significant ways: first, by making customer data more easily available in the context of R&D decision-making, and second, by accelerating the development and delivery processes for new products and services.

 Gary Barnett, Chief Analyst, Software Group, Ovum said: “For businesses to gain a competitive advantage and achieve sustainable growth they must identify new ways to serve customers. This means rapidly rolling out new products, and listening to customer reactions. Modern technologies and platforms exist that can accelerate cycles of R&D to help unlock insights into customer behaviours and preferences, which in turn help tailor new products and services to support the customer journey.

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Mercedes unveils electric compact SUV in bid to outdo Tesla

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Mercedes unveils electric compact SUV in bid to outdo Tesla 1

By Nick Carey

(Reuters) – Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz on Wednesday unveiled the EQA, a new electric compact SUV as part of plans to take on rival Tesla Inc and offer more emission-free vehicles to consumers to meet targets in Europe and China.

The EQA, the first of several electric models Mercedes-Benz plans to launch this year, will initially have a range of 426 kilometres (265 miles), with a 500km model coming later, the premium brand carmaker said in a video presentation.

The SUV will go on sale in Europe on Feb 4 at what board of management Britta Seeger described as “very attractive price points”.

Electric vehicle (EV) sales took off in Europe last year as carmakers scrambled to meet European Union CO2 emissions targets. Sales received a boost from subsidies included in economic stimulus measures rolled out in France and Germany, in particular.

Sales of fully electric and plug-in hybrid models rose 122% across the EU through the first three quarters of 2020.

Mercedes-Benz describes the EQA as an “urban entry model” and board member Seeger touted its “sustainability, versatility and fresh look”.

Electric carmaker Tesla got a head start on traditional carmakers with their vast investments in fossil-fuel vehicles and has dominated global sales. The mass-market Tesla Model 3 is the world’s best-selling EV, followed in distant second place by Renault’s Zoe.

As well as emissions targets, carmakers face bans on fossil-fuel vehicles that come into effect as early as 2030 in some markets.

(Reporting by Nick Carey; editing by Jason Neely)

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Wetherspoon shares higher after raising cash at top end of expectations

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Wetherspoon shares higher after raising cash at top end of expectations 2

(Reuters) – Britain’s Wetherspoon priced its sale of 93.7 million pounds ($127.92 million) worth of new shares at the top end of its expected range on Wednesday, a signal of confidence from investors that pushed the pub operator’s shares 3% higher in morning trade.

The cheap beer specialist said 8.4 million new shares had been placed at 1,120 pence per share – a discount of over 5% to Tuesday’s closing price, but the proceeds raised were at the top of the range it had given when announcing the offer a day earlier.

“We like Wetherspoon’s relentless consumer focus, employee engagement, largely freehold estate and history of evolution. This profile should allow JDW to fast return to its former profitability,” Jefferies analysts said.

Following strict COVID-19 led curbs in December, England went into its third national lockdown earlier this month.

The pandemic-hit hospitality industry has laid off thousands of workers, with Wetherspoon cutting jobs at its head office and airport pubs.

The company said on Tuesday it expects pubs to remain shut until March and that the fresh funds would provide enough liquidity to deal with very low sales after reopening.

It is also considering buying properties in central London, freehold reversions of pubs of where it is currently the tenant, and properties close to successful pubs in an effort to cash in on declining property prices.

“It has a young customer base who have been less fearful of venturing out when restrictions do ease, which does bode well for recovery unless there is another twist in the trajectory of the virus,” Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Susannah Streeter said.

Wetherspoon, which has seen no sales since shutting all its pubs from Dec. 31, had expected the placing to raise between 92.1 million pounds and 93.7 million pounds.

($1 = 0.7325 pounds)

(Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Shailesh Kuber)

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UK regulator slams waiting times, patient records at trans clinic

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UK regulator slams waiting times, patient records at trans clinic 3

By Rachel Savage

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – England’s only youth gender identity clinic faced criticism on Wednesday from the country’s health regulator, which said patients “at risk of self-harm” were waiting too long to access specialist care.

A report by the Care Quality Commission rated the clinic run by London’s Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust as “inadequate” – the worst of four ratings – and said 26% of patients waited more than two years for their first appointment.

Two thirds of patients referred to a specialist at the Gender Identity Development Service had to wait for more than a year.

“Many of the young people waiting for or receiving a service were very vulnerable and at risk of self-harm,” the report said.

“The size of the waiting list meant that staff could not proactively monitor the risks to all patients waiting for their first appointment,” the report added, noting a sharp increase in referrals from 77 in 2009/10 to more than 2,700 in 2019/20.

The regulator’s criticism follows a high-profile court ruling last month that stopped doctors from being able to prescribe puberty-blocking drugs to under-16s without a judge’s approval.

Trans activists point to studies showing the drugs may help alleviate mental health issues trans young people suffer going through puberty in their birth sex, but others say the drugs have unknown long-term mental and physical effects.

The High Court ruling fueled a global debate about the age a child can transition gender.

The Tavistock, which was granted leave to appeal the judgment this week, said it took the Care Quality Commission’s report “very seriously”.

“(We) would like to say sorry to patients for the length of time they are waiting to be seen,” a spokesman for the Tavistock said in an emailed statement.

“We very much accept the need for improvements in our assessments, systems and processes … and will be agreeing a full action plan with the CQC to address further concerns.”

England’s National Health Service (NHS) said it had “previously recognised the need for a review of how to best meet the needs of children and young people with gender incongruence”.

It launched an independent review of the gender identity service in September.

Late last year, a transgender teenager took legal action against the NHS over the long wait to see a specialist at the Tavistock clinic. Under NHS rules, specialist care should be available within 18 weeks.

Besides the concern over waiting times, the Care Quality Commission criticised the clinic over the quality of its medical records.

“There was no clear rationale for clinical decision making,” it said.

(Reporting by Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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