Innovation news in brief: Digitising Europe; Yiddish; Coderus; Maxwell Centre

The EU has published proposals to help digitise European businesses

Technology boost for UK businesses

The EU Commission has published details on how businesses across the EU, including those in the UK, can get better access to the technologies that will help them to modernise. The package includes improving access to cloud computing and services, data analytics and the Internet of Things. It will improve the way the UK does business in the research, technology and industrial sectors, and enable UK companies to compete globally.

The package builds on the existing work going on in the UK, such as Digital Catapults and support for quantum technologies. It will also help business and research communities make the most of EU research and development in high technology areas.

The package sets out suggestions in four areas of working:

  • Digitising European industry, which sets out how the European Commission will help industries to take advantage of digital technologies; supporting collaboration between EU and UK high value manufacturing
  • European cloud initiative, to be used by the science community, which could include making scientific data generated by the Horizon 2020 programme open by default
  • Priorities for ICT standardisation, which will help to make it easier for British businesses to operate in the single market
  • An eGovernment action plan 2016 to 2020, which will help to modernise public administration, making it easier for UK citizens and businesses to access government services in other European countries

More details here

DNA sat nav predicts where Yiddish originated

The origin of Yiddish, the millennium old language of Ashkenazic Jews, is something which linguists have questioned for decades.

Now, a pioneering tool – the Geographic Population Structure (GPS) – which converts DNA data into its ancestral coordinates, has helped scientists pinpoint that the DNA of Yiddish speakers could have originated from four ancient villages in north-eastern Turkey.

The research, led by Dr Eran Elhaik of the University of Sheffield, suggests the Yiddish language was invented by Iranian and Ashkenazic Jews as they traded on the Silk Road.

The ancient villages, identified by the GPS tool, are clustered close to the crossroads of the Silk Roads and are named Iskenaz, Eskenaz, Ashanaz, and Ashkuz – names which may derive from the word “Ashkenaz.”

“Language, geography and genetics are all connected,” said Dr Eran Elhaik from the University’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences.

“Using the GPS tool to analyse the DNA of sole Yiddish and non-Yiddish speakers, we were able to predict the possible ancestral location where Yiddish originated over 1,000 years ago – a question which linguists have debated over for many years.”

He added: “North east Turkey is the only place in the world where these place names exist – which strongly implies that Yiddish was established around the first millennium at a time when Jewish traders who were plying the Silk Road moved goods from Asia to Europe wanted to keep their monopoly on trade.

“They did this by inventing Yiddish – a secret language that very few can speak or understand other than Jews. Our findings are in agreement with an alternative theory that suggests Yiddish has Iranian, Turkish, and Slavic origins and explains why Yiddish contains 251 words for the terms ‘buy’ and ‘sell’. This is what we can expect from a language of experienced merchants.

Watch Dr Eran Elhaik explain the research and the GPS tool here:

Coderus to host Google innovation showcase

Ipswich and Cambridge-based software business Coderus is set to co-host one of only six Google I/O Extended events in the UK, reports Business Weekly.

Google I/O is an annual two-day event in California featuring inspirational talks and a chance for the world to hear about Google’s latest products.

The event will be held at Adastral Park, Martlesham, on May 18 and is co-sponsored by Innovation Martlesham, BT and the IP-Network.

Cloud provider Calligo set for major UK expansion

Cloud provider Calligo has announced a major expansion of its business in the UK. The company has opened a new office in London and has appointed Mark Thomas as director of on-boarding services to support and grow its client base across the country.

Julian Box, co-founder and chief executive officer, commented:“Our push into the UK is in recognition of the size and opportunity of the cloud market in the UK and is a natural next step given the strong client base we already enjoy in there. The London office is further evidence of our commitment to building a lasting presence in the UK and to delivering our unique blend of cloud services where privacy, performance and customised service are at its heart.”

Maxwell Centre opens at the University of Cambridge

The new £26 million Maxwell Centre has officially opened its doors at the University of Cambridge. Located in the heart of the West Cambridge science campus, the BDP-designed building is the University's latest hub for research and industrial partnerships in the physical sciences.

Bringing together Cambridge’s strengths in physics, materials science and engineering it will pioneer new, interdisciplinary approaches to fundamental science, helping to solve some of the biggest global challenges of the 21st century.

Research scientists from industry will occupy laboratory and desk space alongside the Cambridge research groups to promote a two-way flow of ideas that relates directly to industrial need.