Innovation news in brief: Employment contracts; ICT Spring Europe; Dawson; Innovation Birmingham

Clauses in employment contracts can prevent individuals from competing against their former employer

Employment rules ‘stifling’ entrepreneurship

Employment rules which prevent employees from starting up their own business after leaving a job could be stifling British entrepreneurship, the government has suggested.

The government has launched a call for evidence asking for views on what are known as ‘non-compete clauses’ – which can be written into employment contracts and can prevent individuals from competing against their former employer or working for a competitor for a set period of time, sometimes up to nine months after leaving a firm.

The clauses are only enforceable in a court of law if it protects a legitimate interest and is reasonable. However, there have been suggestions that they can hinder start-ups from hiring the best and brightest talent, so the government is asking for views from individuals and employers on whether this type of practice is acting as a barrier to innovation and employment.

UK businesses are being asked to give their ideas on how to make sure it works, with a survey asking for their views being launched online. The results of the survey will feed into the government’s Innovation Plan, which is due to be published later this year.

Thousands expected at ICT innovation conference

More than 6,000 decision makers in the ICT industry are expected to attend the ICT Spring Europe conference in Luxembourg next month.

The annual event, which is being held at the European Convention Centre in Luxembourg on May 10-11 2016, is dedicated to exhibiting and demonstrating the latest relevant trends and innovations in the sector and discuss their impact on society and the working world.

More information here

Dawson’s satellite antenna wins Queen’s Award for Innovation

Warwickshire-based satellite designer and manufacturer Dawson has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Innovation for its groundbreaking antenna for transmitting communications.

The Eutelsat-approved GC- Zero 70K KA-SAT Antenna is self-pointing and can be operational with one click and within one minute.It is designed to enable broadcasters, providers of emergency services and organisations with mobile data requirements to easily establish VoIP and data connection services as well as transmit full broadcast quality HD signals wherever they are located.

Ian Dawson, managing director and founder of Dawson said: “We are very pleased that our innovative product has been recognised by the awarding committee and that we have demonstrated that a great British company can lead the world in innovation and product design. Our GC-Zero 70K KA-SAT antenna is designed to help broadcasters, corporate companies, emergency services and individuals with their mobile communication requirements.”

Enterprise app levels double

The number of enterprise apps doubled last year as businesses become increasingly aware of the potential impact that ‘in house’ apps can have on productivity, according to a new report.

Fliplet’s The Year in Mobile Report, which included data from enterprises operating across 10 geographical markets, showed that in 2015 enterprises on average created just under five apps each – an increase of 176 per cent on 2014 – with the rise particularly prevalent in non-technical departments such as marketing and human resources.

If that trend continues then the number of apps created on average annually by enterprises is expected to rise to more than eight by the end of this year. The revelations follow those by tech research group Gartner which predicts that by the end of next year, market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than companies’ internal IT can deliver them.

According to the report, about 40 per cent of enterprise apps created last year were designed for customer use and 60 per cent for in-house or employee use, indicating that more businesses are aware of the potential for mobile apps to increase productivity levels – potentially by as much as 40 per cent, according to independent research.

The Fliplet report revealed UK businesses were the most active users of enterprise apps last year, with India seeing the greatest engagement levels. While there was a wide variety of industries investing in enterprise app development, Professional Services, Energy & Utilities, Technology and Healthcare were the frontrunners.

Construction underway on Innovation Birmingham’s Universities Centre

Construction work has commenced on a purpose-designed centre on land within Innovation Birmingham Campus’ Faraday Wharf site.

The new Universities Centre will be utilised to make it easier for SMEs to engage with Birmingham’s five universities. The Centre, which is being delivered by Thomas Vale Construction Ltd, will create an additional 5,812 sq ft of enterprise space, which will act as a detached extension of the site’s Faraday Wharf building.

Over half of the space in the new facility will be dedicated to flexible co-working, with the remainder purpose-designed for training sessions and events. It will also feature state-of-the-art communications equipment, with all five universities in Birmingham benefitting from high definition video conferencing suites as part of the project.

Dr David Hardman, CEO of Innovation Birmingham said: “The Universities Centre will be a significant addition to our expanding Campus and will help support existing and new initiatives that Birmingham’s five universities already have in place to promote active engagement between innovators and educators in the city.”

Virtual ticket office scoops rail innovation award

Abellio Greater Anglia have been awarded Product Innovation of the Year at the SmartRail Europe Innovation Awards 2016 for its NextAgent product, an innovative hybrid between a virtual walk-up ticket office, a ticket vending machine and a video-linked call centre.

The product, which has been trialed at Stansted Airport, received positive reviews from users, citing the ease of use and a secure and service-oriented customer experience.