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2019 has been a monumental year in terms of news prompted by the global climate emergency. From Extinction Rebellion protests shutting down cities around the world, to Greta Thunberg crossing the Atlantic Ocean via boat from the UK to New York, it’s clear that issues around climate change are now fully in the public conscience.

That in turn puts sustainability firmly on the business agenda. Consumer habits are changing, and people are voting with their wallets – choosing to support products and services that have a positive impact on the world. For many businesses this means improving their operational and employee models and reviewing sustainability targets. For others – it means prioritising positive impact and action now.

Many disruptors and new market entrants have had the advantage of building their business around sustainability from day one, but a surprising breadth of businesses are making change happen…. Enter the B Corp.

Certified B Corporations (B Corps for short) are businesses who consider their social and environmental impact as much as their financial returns.

Businesses such as Innocent Drinks and Patagonia Works have seen the value in this certification. With Jamie Oliver recently announcing that he was creating a B Corp and a rise in the number of UK businesses applying for the certification, it’s a good time to look into what these new socially and environmentally conscious business are trying to achieve and how they can communicate their goals, successes and operational-overhauls.

What is a B Corp?

B Corps are businesses that take a keen interest in social and environmental performance as part of the core day to day running of a business. Sustainability is rooted firmly in these business’ ethos and operations. The B Corps concept was established in 2007 in the US by an independent business that was offering certifications to businesses that wanted to do more than run a company purely focussed on profit.

B Corps want to provoke a cultural shift within the business community to show the power that businesses have in enacting positive change on society and the world. These businesses come from all different industries and have different ways that they want to improve the environment and society, from tech based business Winnow which helps reduce food waste for chefs, to The PHA Groups own client Ethique, which wants to rid the world of plastic waste through its own beauty products.

The non-profit company B Lab, which awards the certification, wants to show that businesses do have the power to affect real change and how this can be achieved- through reducing inequality, improving the environment and nurturing strong communities.

For a business to become a certified B Corp, it must complete an assessment which evaluates the company’s entire social and environmental performance. This assessment investigates every process within a business, from the supply chain creation of a product to the employee benefits and environmental programs a business has within a head office. The process is rigorous, but businesses are seeing the positive effects maintaining and creating different community and environmental initiatives can have on workers and also on a business’s ethos.

Why is it growing?

There are currently over 3,000 B Corps across 64 countries and within 150 different industries. Within the UK, there are now 217 certified B Corps including The Cheeky Panda and Able & Co.

Research last year found that B Corp certified businesses were growing 28 times faster than the average business, while 48% of B Corps found that this certificate is seen to be an attractive proposition for prospective employees.

With 75% of British consumers adopting ethical shopping habits, this conscious consumer factor is also a key reason why businesses are changing their ways of working to achieve the B Corp status.

This certification is also a perfect opportunity to communicate a business’s message to the press, through awards, thought leadership articles and case studies. New Belgium Brewing in the US has been a certified B Corp since 2013 and has continually pushed to improve its environmental and social impact. Since then, the company has been awarded and recognised as Wall Street Journal’s best small businesses and is consistently part of the “Best for the world honouree list” which awards the top B Corps all around the world. Awards are just one tactic that B Corps can use to raise awareness of the need for sustainability action – and how they have chosen to approach it.

The certificate also allows businesses to collaborate more closely, with regular events for B Corps to speak to each other and share knowledge – all with a shared goal. All these reasons have meant that more businesses are looking to change the way they conduct themselves so that they can become a B Corp.

As previously mentioned, Jamie Oliver recently announced that his next venture would be around creating a B Corp. PR stunt or not, it has shone a light on B Corps to businesses that may have not realised this was a possibility and could help to see a further increase in applications to become a B Corp in the following year.

As consumers continue to ask for more from a business and as businesses try to differentiate themselves to competitors, the B Corp certificate gives businesses an advantage to communicate with consumers around the measures and initiatives they invest in to remain at the forefront of social and environmental change. In changing end to end processes to achieve B Corp certification, businesses are understanding the importance that they have in creating an improved social and environmental world. As the public conscience around the climate emergency increases, businesses must change and they need to communicate that clearly, loudly and effectively to consumers.

B Corps are re-shaping the priorities of businesses

Takumi, the influencer marketing service is on a mission to educate brands, marketers and creative agencies about how to successfully execute and measure influencer marketing campaigns at scale – in a rapidly changing marketplace.

The PHA Group’s communications goal is to differentiate Takumi as the influencer experts and anti-fraud leaders of choice, grabbing the attention of a young professional audience of marketers, brands and creative agencies across the UK.

Many brands think the more followers an influencer has, the better the results are. But the size of an influencers’ following is not a valid metric for success, and fraud is on the increase, costing brands an estimated $750m globally in wastage every year – something Takumi is trying to tackle.

So how can you take the issues of marketing ROI and budget fraud into the mainstream, and grab the attention of this culturally attune audience? Align it with the most addictive trend in UK entertainment this summer: Love Island.

Our strategy:

June 2019: Love Island was back, gripping the nation once again.

The PHA Group and Takumi took advantage of its service’s unparalleled fraud detection technology to analyse the followers of this year’s first 17 Love Island contestants. The contestant followers’ numbers range from 30,000 to just under a million, but we wanted to know how any of these followers were ‘real’ and therefore potentially valuable to brands. The data-dive assessed the activity, engagement and profiles of the contestants’ followers using artificial intelligence-powered analytics and machine learning.

Once we had the data set for each contestant, the results are ranked from most to least fake follower percentages, along with analysis and insight from Takumi’s CEO.

The team waited until an uneventful eviction night to pitch the data release – titled using an eye-catching Love Island pun – and through a highly segmented media strategy that leveraged contacts across marketing and PR, national media and online lifestyle press to secure news and feature coverage. To ensure we also maximised this zeitgeist opportunity, we took Takumi’s data to entertainment and showbiz reporters who we wouldn’t typically speak to, but who we knew would be read by our target audience and could raise mass-awareness of potential influencer fraud.

The result:

Over the following days after the sell-in, the team delivered huge exposure for Takumi and the issue of influencer fraud; 15 pieces of coverage including 4 national articles, as well as 6 linkbacks to the Takumi website from titles with an average domain authority of 69, including Metro online (DA 92).

Takumi’s coverage was appearing high up in the UK Google News search rankings for ‘Instagram’, a huge win for the client. Takumi also saw a 40% spike in organic website traffic in the week of the campaign and a 25% increase in click-throughs.

The stories were also resonating with clients – multiple emails came into the team from clients commending them on the ‘expose’ story. It caused such a stir in the industry that competitors and social media leaders even tried to get in on the action, responding on LinkedIn.

The goal of this campaign was to remind brands that they need to be more careful when working with influencers, urging people to assess the success of influencer partnerships and vetting using more than just vanity metric such a follower numbers and reach.

Takumi: Using pop culture to highlight a dominant industry challenge

The last decade has shown that cutting-edge innovation and tech solutions have been a welcomed addition to industries such as recruitment or banking. Technology has permitted tasks and processes to become automated and allowed individuals to focus their attention on more pressing matters.

One industry which has been slower to embrace technological advances is the legal sector, but with a recent sharp rise of legal tech businesses emerging, it seems it’s only a matter of time until the legal sector makes the switch and commits to innovation and technology just like the aforementioned industries did before them.

One pocket of legal tech which has seen a sharp development is legal management platforms which help to log enquiries, manage current clients and include billing for both lawyers and law firms. Here’s our five to watch out for.

Zaliet

Meet the pioneering business who is helping lawyers deliver a better service to their clients. Zaliet allows clients and lawyers to connect and provide one central hub. Clients are then able to communicate and work with a law firm no matter the hour or day. Zaliet created the concept of a service portal, where you and the client can gain access to phone numbers, access document, book appointments and pay their bills.

From within the hub, law firms can also access prospective clients, log calls, emails and update the client’s status, so lawyers know exactly when they are due to follow up.

Lawsyst

With a similar process to how Zaliet functions, lawsyst is an all-in-one legal case management system to help law firms and individuals stay on top of their enquiries. One key feature of lawsyst is the integrated phone system which allows users to receive and make calls with a click of a button and simultaneously allows voice memos to be attached to inbound leads.

The sophisticated interface allows fee flexibility, so whether it’s a fixed fee, agreed fee or an hourly rate charge you can tailor the quote and response to the client.

Perfect Portal

Established back in 2014, originally Perfect Portal was a budding concept which delivered immediate quotes to prospective clients, nowadays Perfect Portal has formed into a business management system that services almost 600 law firms with offices in both the UK and Australia.

Check out the quote functions in Perfect Portal which range from fully customizable quick quote calculators, allowing clients to obtain an immediate quote to more personalised branded quotes which require a higher level of detail and input.

Tresorit

Welcome to one of the most secure places on the cloud to store, sync and share files easily.

Like global messaging service Whatsapp, Tresorit uses end-to-end encryption software which prevents data being read or secretly modified, only the intended user and who they decide to share the document or information with can read the files – ideal for an industry inundated with confidential documents.

Not even Tesorit themselves can access your files thanks to their zero-knowledge policy.

As an extra safety precaution against potential hackers, Tresorit don’t have access to your encryption keys or to the personal data you manage in your files, meaning if the servers were hacked your information and data would be safe.

Keepabl

Although it isn’t limited to just the legal industry, we thought Keepabl was too good not to include. With notable high-profile examples such as British Airways and hotel chain, Marriott being fined due to severe GDPR data breaches, businesses need to be doing more to make sure their systems are safe and secure.

The computer software system provides the remedy for GDPR headaches up and down the country for both public and private organisations. With guided help and data map analysis and article 30 records, Keepabl have simplified the process of staying compliant.

Providing great insight and direction is their founder and CEO, Robert Baugh who spent 13 years as General Counsel for mid-market organisations, specifically implementing compliance programs fitted with complex regulations.

If you’re a B2B business or a legal firm looking to refine your UK media strategy and interested in finding out how we can help raise your profile, please get in touch today.

Tech driven management tools law firms should check out

James clench meet our people

How did you find the transition from journalist to PR?

I was quite daunted at the prospect of changing industries having worked as a journalist for so many years. I had transferable skills – concise writing, news sense, developing contacts, working to deadlines, managing teams – but suspected I had a lot to learn. I was right about that! When I was a journalist, I understood part of the PR world but not the whole picture. I think the major concern for most PR agencies hiring former journalists is how they will form relationships with clients and how they will get to grips with the commercial aspects of the business. Both of those are elements of the job that I’ve enjoyed hugely. I do miss some aspects of my former industry – especially the buzz of a big breaking news story – but derive real satisfaction from helping clients navigate the media.

What attracted you to working in public relations?

A new challenge; a chance to develop new skills; seeing things from the other side of the fence; working in a more commercial environment; making use of a network built up over years; and a more flexible approach to working.

From your point of view, what does your journalism background add to the mix?

The most obvious added value is contacts. When I was a journalist, I never actively sought to build a network of fellow journalists. But having spent a year training at a good journalism college, nearly a decade reporting on general news, a year as a royal correspondent and five years in different news editing roles including head of news at The Sun, that network built itself.

Having an understanding of how the media works is helpful. An experienced ex journalist should know why a story is a story; what influences determine whether a story ends up as a splash or gets spiked; why it makes sense to pitch some stories exclusively and others all round; and why it might be sensible to pitch a story to land for the Tuesday after a Bank Holiday.  Ex journalists should have the ability to find the sweet spot where a client’s message meets a journalist’s interest.

Journalists need to develop a can-do attitude to survive in the media. Reporters are often given very difficult briefs to be achieved in very tight deadlines and must think on their feet. That’s a good skill to have in most industries. News editors have to think strategically about a variety of issues: where to move reporters; how personalities might fit to particular stories; managing a big story over days or weeks; thinking about what rival media are doing. That strategic thinking sets you in good stead for running a PR team.

You head up our entrepreneur and business sector, what do you find most compelling about the clients you work with?

All of the clients I work with have been successful in business and it is fascinating to learn about their journey to the top. I remember being a trainee journalist and sitting in a seminar run by BBC sports journalist Rob Nothman. He boiled down the essence of interviewing sports stars by saying “You want to know what’s going on in here… [bangs his fist on his heart]… and here [points to his head].” For me, the same is true of business leaders. I want to know what inspired them, what motivates them, how they keep going, how they inspire others. I want to know what is going on in the heart and in the head. And from there, my team can develop authentic personal profiles and get to the essence of the brand.

What do you think sets PHA’s PR services apart from other agencies?

Media relations and crisis management are two service offerings where we have a great story to tell. We can speak directly with journalists and editors to put across our clients’ viewpoint because of our longstanding relationships.

Our strength is also in our balance. Alongside ex journalists, we have exceptional leaders in the business who have worked at every level of PR at PHA and have developed a wealth of experience, ideas and industry knowledge. The culture of the agency means we all work together to get the best for clients. Our delivery level is phenomenal as a result.

What advice would you give a corporate organisation or business leader who is potentially looking for PR services?

Think carefully about what you want to achieve from PR. Is it brand awareness, protecting your reputation, building your personal profile as a leader… or all of the above? Being specific about your goals will lead to better results.

And when it comes to making a decision on hiring an agency, ask to meet all of the team who will work on your account. I’m always impressed by the depth of talent we have at PHA and I’m confident a potential client will have the same reaction.

If you would like to find out how PR can connect you with the right audience for your business then please get in touch with us today.

Meet our people; James Clench

This week ExCeL London will be hosting the Europe CBD Expo, showcasing leading international brands, senior level insights and global scientific research across all sectors of the CBD, Cannabinoids and Medicinal Cannabis industry.

With 30 speakers and over 80 exhibitors, it would be impossible to see it all, so we’ve listed four entrepreneurial speakers you should look out for on your visit.

Patrick Morton, Cannabis Invest UK

Patrick Morton quit his investment banking analyst job to co-found Cannabis Invest UK, an organisation that connects global cannabis companies with investors in Europe and the UK. The company has set up conferences that have featured CEOs of in excess of $40 billion of the global industry since its founding in 2017.

Prior to joining the cannabis industry, Patrick spent 13 years in the investment banking industry, primarily as an equity research analyst with RBC Capital Markets and the Macquarie Group. He holds a BComm from McGill University and is a CFA charterholder.

At the expo Patrick will be talking about investing in CBD, particularly where it comes to cultivation, product development, branding and distribution.

Dr. Dani Gordon MD ABOIM

Dr. Dani Gordon is the CEO & Co-founder of UltraResilience.com, a double board-certified medical doctor, writer and speaker. She is a leading specialist in clinical cannabis medicine and in mid-2018 moved to London to train the UK’s first cannabis medicine specialist physicians.

She developed a leading online cannabis medicine physician training program, helped set up the UK’s first cannabis medicine clinics and became a founding member of the UK Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society (MCCS), delivering the MCCS guidelines to 10 Downing Street.

Dr. Dani treats thousands of patients and clients with burnout, chronic fatigue, women’s health and stress related issues, and this week will be speaking about ‘CBD & Cannabinoids for Everyone’.

Oliver Zugel, Foliumed

Oliver Zugel is the CEO and Founder of Foliumed, a licenced producer of medical-grade cannabis extracts and products for the health & wellness consumer. Foliumed organically grows its own, proprietary strains of cannabis in Colombia, and operates an extraction facility complying to international standards.

Prior to entering the cannabis space, Oliver was CEO of several international gaming companies and a Partner at Michael Porter´s Monitor Group, a leading strategy consulting firm. Oliver holds a First-Class Honours Degree from London School of Economics.

Oliver will be delivering a talk entitled: Making CBD, Cannabinoids and Medicinal Cannabis affordable: How Emerging Markets will disrupt the global supply chain.

Jasmin Thomas OhanaCBD

Named Entrepreneur of the Week by the Direct Cannabis Network, Jasmin Thomas’ London-based skincare brand Ohana CBD grew out of a personal need. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2015, and eventually discovered that CBD oil eased a lot of her painful symptoms.

From there she started to create her own recipes and has since turned these concoctions into a successful Europe-wide business. Ohana is a natural lifestyle brand offering a CBD-infused skincare range, recipes and updates on the benefits of cannabinoids.

Jasmin will be sitting on a panel entitled Women – The Future of Cannabis. She has previously spoken out about the growing role of women in the expanding CBD industry, and, alongside the UN’s official delegate for cannabis policy, cofounded the Entourage Network, a platform for women to engage, empower and explore opportunities within the CBD market.

 

At The PHA Group, we have an established track record of creating and managing a strong, positive reputation for companies as well as raising the profile of CEOs, industry innovators and their pioneering work. If you’d like to raise your profile in a positive way get in touch with our award-winning team today.

Speakers not to miss at the Europe CBD Expo

If you’re looking for a list of movers and shakers in business, look no further than the Startups 100 list. It’s the go-to guide for businesses that are really making waves.

We’ve picked our top five brands to keep an eye on over the next 12 months.

Soldo:

App-based challenger banks have attracted the biggest buzz in the tech world for a few years now, but there’s a new player in the game: Soldo, a smart bank for businesses.

Offering prepaid cards for employees, Soldo allows the finance team to easily move funds between cards, set up rules for spending and even turn the card off. My favourite feature? The ability to generate expense reports. Founder Carlo Gualandri and his team really have thought of everything.

The Cheeky Panda:

The Cheeky Panda has developed a range of sustainable and health conscious tissues, toilet paper, wipes and kitchen roll made from bamboo. The brand also offers a plastic-free line and its tissues were the first in the UK to be vegan registered.

With consumers becoming far more thoughtful about their purchasing power, The Cheeky Panda’s products are number one bestseller on Amazon and the brand has gained support from the likes of Richard Branson, Joanna Lumley and Judi Dench.

Set up by successful entrepreneurs Julie Chen and Chris Forbes who are dedicated to preserving our natural environment, it’s no surprise that The Cheeky Panda has achieved a valuation of £25 million in just three years!

Ideal Flatmate:

Is there anything more arduous than finding flatmates and moving to a new house? Ideal Flatmate brings the technology underpinning dating apps like Tinder and applies it to finding your perfect roommate.

Rather than criticising millennials’ penchant for smashed avocado, founders Tom Gatzen and Robert Imonikhe recognised the (seemingly revolutionary) notion that you might want to share common interests – and cleaning habits – with your roomies. And it’s working – the app receives 300,000 flatmates and 10,000 property uploads every month.

Freetrade:

If renting a room in a messy shared house for all of eternity is the epitome of being millennial, then investing is surely the least millennial activity? But Freetrade is here to change that.

A challenger stockbroker, Freetrade opens investing to everyone. It eliminates exorbitant stockbrokers’ fees, instead provides its customers with zero fees for basic trades.

Taking cues from next-generation online banks, Freetrade keeps overheads low by keeping systems smart and a lack of physical outlets. It’s also FCA regulated for extra peace of mind.

Founder and CEO Adam Dodds has driven the company’s massive growth, amassing nearly 300,000 users (80% of which are millennials) and raising £7m, including £1m in just 77 seconds.

Vet-AI:

Healthtech is the next frontier for artificial intelligence, and VET-AI is ensuring our pets benefit from these advances too – and says it’s the first company in the world to do so.

Founded by tech expert Paul Hallett and vet Robert Dawson, VET-AI has launched an app called Joii, which offers a triage system powered by AI. It’s so smart it can “think like a vet” by factoring in variables like the pet’s history and the risk of misdiagnosis. Pet owners will then receive tailored recommendations, whether that’s basic advice or a video call with a vet.

Despite the app launching in May, the company has already secured £1 million investment and has relationships with 18 global animal health companies, making it one to watch!

Whether you’re targeting millennials or retirees, eco warriors or puppy parents, our award-winning team is enthusiastic about working with forward-thinking brands ready to make their mark on an industry. If you’re ready to build brand awareness in the media, get in touch with us today.

Startups 100: Top five brands to watch in 2019

Britain has never had such a thriving start-up scene. In 2015, the think tank Centre for Entrepreneurs identified a record 608,000 such businesses. Growth has continued despite any lingering uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and the number of new companies registered in the UK last year rose by 5.7% to a total of 660,000.

The positive numbers may be attributed to government-sponsored initiatives. These include StartUp Britain, a campaign launched after the financial crisis in 2011 to increase tax breaks for investors and owners of small businesses, or the Start Up Loans scheme, which has handled more than £300m of loans since its launch in 2012.

However, the boom in UK start-ups is also down to the people behind them and their determination, passion and intelligence. It’s not just about the economic conditions in which their businesses have been able to grow.

Following the launch of Startups’ Top 100 list, we looked at some of the entrepreneurs behind the most exciting new businesses in the country:

Chris Elrin and Ben Saul-Garner, Attachment

Founded in 2017, by serial entrepreneur Ben Saul Garner – now on his third venture – and Chris Elrin – a media expert with more than a decade of experience at ITV, MediaCom and Universal Group – Attachment is now the fastest growing entertainment agency in Europe.

Combining their unique blend of skills and industry expertise, Ben and Chris saw the opportunity to design and develop an entertainment company that works with talent and brands to create deep connections in music and entertainment. At a time when media organisations are being interrogated with questions of authenticity, Attachment is making it easier to create more genuine and engaging brand collaborations and partnerships.  Ben and Chris’ refreshingly transparent approach to the market has helped accelerate Attachment’s growth encouraging well-known brands including Google, Airbnb, ASOS, and Unilever and entertainers such as James Corden, Rita Ora and Lady Gaga to collaborate. Featuring 37th in Start-up’s Top 100 list, it’s no surprise that Attachment is the highest ranked business in the media and communications sector.

Merlie Calvert, Farillio

Legal bills are an expensive headache for SMEs, costing around £13.6bn a year. Merlie Calvert, a qualified lawyer, spotted a gap in the market. She set up an SME of her own with the aim of helping small businesses cut legal costs and streamline day-to-day administrative tasks. Farillio, a legaltech start-up, was born.

With more than 20 years of experience as a lawyer, and having set up two businesses, Merlie is perfectly placed to help guide her peers through their own start-up journeys. Farillio now has 12 employees in total, several of whom have run their own companies in the past.

Ibi Thomson, Issoria

Ibi turned down several venture-capitalist investments offers for his change management hub Issoria including from James Caan of Dragons’ Den, instead preferring to retain an agile, employee-owned start-up model. The approach has brought success, with Issoria’s network of global businesses consultants now serving over 5,000 firms of all sizes across 100 countries including the likes of Nestle, G4S, Jaguar and multi-year service agreements with a number of FTSE100 and Fortune 500 companies. Backed by the tools, high-quality customer support and expertise across several different industries, Issoria boasts an ability to offer each client a bespoke approach without compromising on quality.

Ibi has no plans of slowing down Issoria’s growth either, announcing his ambitions to serve half of the world’s largest companies by 2030 in a recent interview.

Alexandra Isenegger, Linkilaw

Alexandra founded Linkilaw back in 2015 as a legaltech start-up to help small businesses across the country source advice for everyday legal documents. Using a digital-first approach, business owners can connect with one of 500 pre-vetted lawyers and, combined with a relationship management tool, can be assured of the best possible legal support that’s right for them.

Based on her own vast experiences in law and as a business consultant and mentor, Isenegger is perfectly placed to ensure Linkilaw’s service is fast, practical and affordable. Her and the business’s huge potential has secured coverage in TechCrunch and HuffPost already, helping to seal her place in the Law and Policy stream of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list.

Collectively raising almost £1 billion, the 2019 Start-ups’ Top 100 can aspire to follow in the footsteps of other household names previously shortlisted, including Deliveroo, Zoopla and Monzo. With their reputations enhanced and awareness among the business community increased, now is the perfect time for the entrepreneurs behind the brand names to use personal PR to tell their incredible entrepreneurial stories and growth journeys, share their successes and attract new business.

If you’re a start-up looking for PR and media support, please get in touch today to find out how we can support you long-term.

Startups 100: Our pick of the best entrepreneurs

Last week’s London Tech Week celebrated technology, talent and start-ups in our capital. A standout event was the AI summit, which was organised by PHA client, Dan Pitchford.

I was lucky enough to be offered a ticket to the two-day event learning about innovations in artificial intelligence, enjoying ice cream selected due to Microsoft’s smart facial recognition software (reader: I was strawberry), and even got to meet the world-famous Pepper the Robot.

The ExCel was bursting with fascinating innovations, but below are five of the most exciting businesses exhibiting at the AI Summit.

Top 5 Businesses at the AI Summit

Alpha

Based in Barcelona, Alpha is using technology to support mental health issues. It currently has an app called “Perspectives” which uses cognitive behaviour therapy to help and support people who are suffering from body image issues, but Alpha is hoping to broaden its support to a wider range of mental health concerns and is currently testing in the US. The technology used is constantly learning and working out how to best look after users – informing future vital developments to provide help for the estimated one in four people who will experience a mental disorder in their lifetime.

Squirrel AI

This fascinating China-based company uses AI to help students further their potential across a whole range of subjects. The AI system is used to understand and adapt to students’ specific needs and offers a personalised one-to-one tutoring plan based on where individual knowledge may be lacking. The belief is that as every student’s knowledge base is different, Squirrel AI provides a hyper-focused way to complement each unique learning style.

GyroGear

GyroGear is a new piece of tech created to help people with tremors. The idea of the business was born out of the desire to return independence and freedom to anyone who experiences tremors. The advanced technology, which attaches itself to a user’s hands, was borne from an NHS doctor and a mechanical engineer who used AI and machine learning to work out the best way to help someone who was suffering with a disease such as Parkinson’s so that they could improve the quality of life for someone who was suffering from tremors.

Luminoso

We’ve all been there: you get in touch with a company to make a suggestion, complaint or compliment and feel distinctly underwhelmed by the identikit reply. Luminoso uses artificial intelligence to monitor, understand and advise how businesses should respond to customer feedback or requests. It is already being used by big tech companies such as AWS and there is no reason to think that the company isn’t going to grow even further.

Marhub

Marhub is a chatbot application helping refugees gain valuable information and services when they have been displaced. The chatbot provides information in the native language of each user, easing communication problems. The platform is helping organisations increase efficiency, scale and improve the quality of their services. The chatbot offers legal advice, can answer questions and can connect refugees directly with lawyers or organisations that will be willing to help. The technology uses AI to learn and adapt to the issues that are facing refugees all around the world and Marhub is one of many examples that shows how technology is being used to improve the lives of people who are in desperate situations.

The AI Summit was a whirlwind of an afternoon and the sheer variety of exhibitions, using the technology to address some of the world’s most pressing issues – migration, mental health, education – was fascinating.

And I was delighted to not have been identified by the smart ice cream dispenser as vanilla.

The top five businesses from the AI Summit

Tomorrow marks the start of The Business Show’s 41st exhibition, taking place at ExCeL London. Here’s everything you need to know, from who should attend to exhibitors not to miss, and how you can make the most of the day.

What is it?

Europe’s largest and fastest growing business event. The Business Show is the most comprehensive exhibition, conference and networking hub designed specifically for the growth of start-ups, SMEs and even large corporations.

Bigger and better

The Business Show is now in its 17th year, and is expecting its biggest turnout to date, with over 25,000 visitors and an impressive line-up of keynote speakers, including VP EMEA of Twitter Bruce Daisley, Aron Gelbard from Bloom & Wild, and 2018’s Apprentice winner Sian Gabbidon. Every visitor at The Business Show will get access to two dedicated networking areas, designed to facilitate conversation and engagement between delegates, exhibitors and sponsors.

As if that wasn’t enough, there will also be a series of masterclasses, including ‘Intellectual Property Explained’ from the Intellectual Property Office, ‘Boost Your Memory in One Hour’ by Genius in 21 Days, and ‘Better Business Accounts Masterclass’ from challenger bank Revolut. There will also be a unique speed networking session sponsored by Dell, providing the perfect opportunity to make valuable connections.

Exhibitors and speakers not to miss

This year there will be a staggering 134 speakers at The Business Show and hundreds of exhibitors. Since it’s impossible to see everyone, here are the five who we think are particularly inspiring and innovative in the work they do, and who shouldn’t be missed.

Constant & Co

With an impressive 45 years’ experience in the bailiff and enforcement industry, Constant & Co takes great pride in their professionalism to deliver ethical effective enforcement on a wide range of services. The company started as a small family run business, founded by the late Bryan Constant, and from these humble beginnings has ensured that despite its growth, its ethos and core values still remain today.

With a wealth of experience both in the field and in administrational support, the combination of these factors critically guarantees that they will provide a specialised personal, but professional service to their clients. Constant & Co now work with some of the largest managing agents, commercial landlords, large retailers, solicitors and local authorities in the country.

Dominic Arnall

As well as being Chair of LGBTQ charity Mind Out, Dominic Arnall is Head of Programme Management for the mental health charity Mind, working specifically on the Time to Change campaign. Time to Change is the largest mental health campaign in the UK, which focuses on encouraging people to talk about mental health and reduce the stigma and discrimination felt by people with mental health problems.

Dominic previously worked as Head of Projects and Programmes for LGBT charity Stonewall, leading international and domestic programmes to advance equality for LGBT people in the UK, including collaborating with the Church of England on their first ever guidance for transgender people. At The Business Show, Dominic will be talking about the work Time to Change engage in with over 1,000 employers in the UK and how the campaign supports them in tackling mental health stigma in the workplace.

Paul Uppal

Paul Uppal is the UK’s first Small Business Commissioner. The government post set up in 2017 is dedicated to tackling the issue of late payment to businesses, particularly small companies of 15 employees or less, who often suffer significant financial consequences as a result. Since starting the venture around 15 months ago, Paul and his team have already recovered a remarkable £3.7 million for SMEs.

Paul has run his own successful small business in the construction and real estate sector for over 20 years and realised early on that even a sound business would soon go under if a culture of late payment was allowed to take hold. In his seminar at The Business Show, he will highlight the issues of late payments, the scale of the problem in the UK, and the best practice for SMEs for invoicing and managing payment terms in decreasing the likelihood of late payment.

Starling Bank

Starling Bank knew business banking needed to change, so built a new kind of business account from scratch; one designed to help small business owners spend less time banking, and more time running their company. Enter Starling for Business – a mobile business bank account with zero monthly fees, helpful spending tools and instant alerts when you pay a corporate bill or someone pays an invoice.

Helen Bierton, Head of Retail at Starling, is one of The Business Show’s keynote speakers and will deliver a seminar on how mobile banking can save your business time and money. She will show how Starling have pioneered a new approach to business current account banking, meeting the needs of today’s entrepreneurs and freeing up their time.

Animo Associates

Animo Associates was established in 2004 to provide innovative corporate and advisory services worldwide. They have over 140 staff including qualified accountants, corporate secretaries, lawyers, HR and compliance professionals. Most of the company’s directors have over 20 years’ industry experience, and the business has a strong ethos of building relationships with clients based on trust and discretion. In addition, its affiliate accountancy practice based in Rochdale offers a wide range of UK & International tax and accountancy services.

 

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Spotlight on… The Business Show

Over the course of last week, London was jam-packed with diversity events, from the International Conference of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, to the Stonewall Workplace Conference on LGBT inclusion, and Symposium’s Diversity and Inclusion Conference. Delegates attended in their thousands to show their support for trans equality and a commitment to drive LGBT inclusion at work. Speakers shared their expert knowledge about fundamental issues including the gender pay gap, unconscious bias, promoting diverse talent, and how businesses can defend underrepresented members in the workplace.

Here we celebrate our favourites among the impressive line-up of speakers at these conferences.

Sanjay Sood-Smith, Stonewall

Sanjay Sood-Smith is best known for his 2014 appearance on the 10th series of BBC’s The Apprentice. He has since become the Executive Director of Workplace and Community Programmes at Stonewall, whose mission is to ensure that LGBT role models and allies are visible throughout public life, in order to create an environment where all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are able to participate fully in society. Last week he spoke about his experiences overcoming homophobia and how important it is for everyone, LGBT or not, to take action and be an ally.

Prior to joining Stonewall Sanjay spent most of his career at Lloyds Banking Group where he held several senior positions across retail banking, strategy and digital. He is a man of many talents, having also co-founded a food business called Tuk In, a ‘curry-in-a-naan’ microwave meal product that is currently listed in Tesco, Ocado and Spar stores.

Sarah Kaiser, Fujitsu

Sarah Kaiser is the Employee Experience, Diversity & Inclusion Lead for Fujitsu EMEIA. She has driven Fujitsu’s activity to become recognised as an exemplar on gender pay gap reporting, a Times Top 50 Employer for Women, a Disability Confident Leader, a Stonewall Top 100 Employer, a BITC Top Employer for Race and a Top 50 Social Mobility Employer. She is passionate about finding creative solutions to unusual diversity challenges, developing cultures where everyone can achieve their full potential, and the representation of diversity in contemporary culture.

Previously Sarah was the Head of Equality at Brent Council, where she led the organisation to achieve the Excellence level of the Equality Framework for Local Government. Beforehand, as the first Diversity Manager for Tate, Sarah increased the diversity of Tate’s audiences, workforce and programme.

Sarah Brooks, Atos

Sarah Brooks is an HR Business Partner at Atos and is the chair of the Atos Adapt employee network for those with disabilities and those interested in disability issues. The network is committed to enabling employees with a long-term illness, impairment or disability to reach their full potential in the workplace.

When Sarah became ill in 2000 and had to be intermittently off work for two years while searching for a diagnosis, she was demoted within the organisation and faced discrimination because of her disability. After returning to work full-time, she set up Atos Adapt, and now speaks out about her experiences as a person with hypermobility syndrome and how businesses can tackle the organisational and cultural barriers that prevent career progression for the disabled.

Trevor Hudson, King

Trevor Hudson has worked in a variety of sectors, including charitable sector, transportation and retail, construction and property management, finance and now tech. He currently works as a Senior Learning Business Partner for King, the second largest mobile games company in the world. In almost every role he has held, Trevor has worked on Diversity and Inclusion initiatives and at King he looks at the role of developing leaders and managers to create inclusive environments in which everyone can share a sense of belonging and build a community.

Last week he delivered a talk at the Diversity and Inclusion Conference on unconscious bias training, how to train for what you aren’t aware of, building a business case and how to link unconscious bias to an effective diversity and inclusion strategy.

Sarah Maskell, HSBC

Senior Global Diversity and Inclusion Relationship Manager at HSBC, Sarah Maskell, shared her expert knowledge on building and embedding diversity in organisational strategy. She spoke about how to identify skills and diversity gaps, recruiting and promoting diverse talent, and the role of leadership in generating an inclusive company culture.

Sarah spent 18 years working for the Royal Air Force where she climbed the ranks and became the strategic and operational lead for Diversity and Inclusion Policy. She holds a number of awards and has been a judge for the RB First Women Awards, the Rising Stars 2018 Awards, and the 2018 Age Awards. Sarah is also a national delegate for the NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives.

Nour Fayad, Vodafone

Speaking about how we can create a brighter, more inclusive future, Nour Fayad says there are three key ingredients: invest, inspire, and elevate. She spoke out against “tolerance towards intolerance” and encouraged organisations to sign up to the UN Standards of Conduct for Business. Nour works in product development at Vodafone and has a great focus on the values of diversity, inclusion and empowerment, while being a visible role model to help moving towards a more trans inclusive workspace.

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Leaders in Diversity