Industry News

HEFCEUnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs and HEFCE have joined forces to launchthe HE Social Entrepreneurship Awards scheme to promote & recognise social entrepreneurship activity in higher education (HE).  Through the scheme, higher education institutions (HEIs) are being encouraged to develop their enterprise skills in supporting activities that have a social purpose (for example: the environment, healthcare, education, social cohesion, fair trade and micro-finance).
 
The scheme will provide staff & students with support & funding for enterprising new ventures.  The Awards will be provided as a grant with applications across an 18-month period (from 19 November 2009) underpinned by an investment of nearly £1m through HEFCE's Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF).
 
The Awards cover 2 categories: 'Catalyst Awards' of up to £5,000 (with an average award of £2,500) will allow individuals to grow an entrepreneurial idea that also creates positive social change, while 'Development Awards' of up to £15,000 will be available to those with exceptional projects with the potential of developing to scale or becoming investment-ready.
 
In addition to financial support for up to 200 social entrepreneurs, the programme includes a package of non-financial support, networking & awareness-raising activities to promote social entrepreneurship among staff & students in English HEIs.
Press release ~ Details wards web-site ~ UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs ~ HEFCE's Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) ~ HEFCE electronic publication 08/2009
 
DECC: Farmers, foresters and local authorities can now apply for £1.5m grants to help develop the supply of biomass, such as wood chips or energy crops like miscanthus, in England through Round 3 of the Bio-energy Infrastructure Scheme.  As with previous rounds, the objectives of the scheme are to increase renewable energy generation & reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while contributing to sustainable land management.
 
The Scheme provides grants to help the development of the supply chain required to harvest, process, store and supply biomass to heat, combined heat & power and electricity end-users.  The scheme is restricted to projects based in England and is open to businesses, local authorities and charities.

Grants will only be available for projects which complete by 31 March 2011.  The deadline for receipt of applications is 26 February 2010, although applicant projects will be assessed on a rolling basis as they are received. The scheme is administered on DECC’s behalf by TUV NEL Ltd.
Press release ~ Bio-energy Infrastructure Scheme Helpline at TUV-NEL: Tel: 01355 593800 - E-mail: help@beis.org.uk ~ Bio-energy Capital Grants Scheme
 
LSIS: Last week, the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) announced the 30 successful bidders to its Flexibility and Innovation Fund.  The money will fund a diverse collection of projects that aim to secure significant improvements in sector practice or performance.  Subject matters for each project are varied with some addressing environmental issues (such as Coventry City College’s Planning for a low-carbon future) and others are more creatively inspired such as ‘Hair-i-tage Skills’ (from Salon Strategies). 
 
Other successful bids cover virtual learning in the workplace, the role & value of entrepreneurial & creative leadership and developing whole sector driven approaches in Skills for Life and community cohesion. The Fund is a key plank in LSIS's new strategy to put the sector not just at the heart of improvement, but also in charge of it, building on & utilising expertise already in the sector. The next bidding round is in February & June  2010; criteria & advice for future bids will be available shortly.
Press release ~ 30 successful projects here ~ LSIS
 
CLG: Councils and their partners from across the country are going head to head in a new government scheme designed to find the public sector's brightest ideas. Local Government Minister Rosie Winterton has congratulated all the nominees who made it onto the independent advisory panel's shortlist following over 100 applications, involving nearly 200 councils and their partners.
 
Expert assessors looked at all the applications and have now narrowed them down to a shortlist of just 22. Shortlisted applicants for the new Local Innovation Awards had to demonstrate genuine collaboration, radically different ideas and leading edge practice, when tackling the challenges their area faced to get nominated.
 
The winners, to be announced in March 2010, will undertake a learning programme to teach others across the country how to improve their services.  A £3m pot has been made available for the winning areas to set up pioneering schemes for spreading their winning ideas & best practice.
 
The Awards replace the Beacon scheme and have been jointly designed by the Government and the Local Government Association Group (including the IDeA), which will roll out the best practice across local government and the local public sector.
Press release ~ Local Innovation Awards ~ Local Government Association Group ~ IDeA
 
ScotGov: A new Scottish approach to supporting children & young people, tested in Highland and supported by the Scottish Government, is delivering real results for local youngsters. The 'Getting It Right For Every Child' pathfinder project, which aims to transform the way services are delivered, has been found to improve outcomes for children & families, cut non-offence referrals to the children's reporter by 70% and free up staff to spend more time supporting families, instead of writing reports.
 
The Highland pathfinder project was launched in September 2006 to address all aspects of children's & young people's needs from birth through to 18’.  In addition to children's services, it also covered services & agencies whose work significantly affects the lives of children and their families.  This report focuses on the development & implementation phases to date.
 
The second pathfinder became operational in 2007 and was designed to test implementation of the Getting it right approach in response to a single issue or theme: meeting the needs of children and young people living with or affected by domestic abuse’.
 
This is now being taken forward in 4 local authorities: Dumfries and Galloway, Edinburgh City, Falkirk and West Dunbartonshire.  One of the further briefings will focus on the development & implementation phases in the single issue pathfinder areas.
Press release ~ Getting It Right For Every Child ~  Evaluation of Getting It Right For Every Child in Highland - full report ~  Getting It Right For Every Child in Highland - summary report ~ 'Getting It Right For Every Child' pathfinder project
 
FSA: 5 high street restaurant chains – Burger King, KFC, McDonald’s, the Subway chain and Wimpy – have set out how they intend to take further steps to provide their customers with healthier choices. These steps build on commitments made a year ago and demonstrate how these companies are continuing to support the Food Standards Agency’s efforts to make eating out of the home healthier.  Together, the companies operate more than 4,000 restaurants across the UK.
 
The Agency is currently working with 44 companies, each of which has produced a commitment document that set out actions the companies have carried out (or are planning to) towards healthier catering.  The actions cover procurement, menu planning, kitchen practice and consumer information.  The commitment work covers the breadth of the catering sector and includes workplace caterers, foodservice suppliers, pubs, coffee & sandwich shop and restaurants chains.
Press release ~ FSA: Healthy catering commitments
 
DCMS: The Tyne Tees and Borders television region has been selected for a pilot scheme to develop new & innovative ways of providing local & regional news. This pilot region, in addition to one in Scotland & one in Wales, will trial Independently Funded News Consortia (IFNCs) which are being created to support sustainable multi-platform regional news.
 
As well as broadcasting in the regional news slots on channel 3 (ITV and STV), the consortia will be expected to provide increased local news using multi-media technology.  IFNCs were a recommendation of the Digital Britain White Paper.
 
The tender process to run each of the three IFNC pilots has also been launched with an independent panel expected to select the successful consortia in each region by March 2010.
Press release ~ More information about the tender process ~ The Government’s response to the consultation on “Sustainable independent and impartial news in the Nations, locally and in the regions
 
ScotGov: Scotland's most environmentally-friendly businesses were crowned at a prestigious award ceremony in Edinburgh last week. 8 companies saw off stiff competition from the cream of Scotland's green businesses to take winners titles at the 2009 Vision in Business for the Environment of Scotland (VIBES) Awards.
 
Now in its 10th year of operation, VIBES recognises & rewards the efforts of Scottish businesses to become more efficient & competitive through improving environmental performance and benefiting a company's bottom-line.
Press release ~ 2009 Vision in Business for the Environment of Scotland (VIBES) Awards ~ VIBES Partners
 
ScotGov: The Scottish Government, through Skills Development Scotland, will fund a new project to train 200 Registered Digital Installers (RDIs) to assist with the digital switchover which must be completed by 2012. This will support the upskilling of the current workforce of aerial installers to enable them to take advantage of the digital switchover which is taking place across the UK. The training to be undertaken is a Level 2 NVQ in Electrical and Electronic Servicing (Signal Reception Pathway)
Press release ~ Skills Development Scotland ~ ScotAction ~ Digital Switchover - Scotland
 
BIS: More than 95,000 businesses have benefited from a Business Link ‘Health Check’, helping them to limit the impact of the economic downturn, Business Minister Lord Davies claimed last week. A year on from its launch, an average of 1,834 businesses a week have used the free business support service to help identify any potential problems early on, helping them shore up business plans amidst the difficult economic conditions.
 
An early assessment report into the success of the service has been published.  Key findings included:
* Health Checks are improving the abilities of businesses to cope with the economic downturn and put in place strategies that will help them achieve growth as the economy recovers
* Around two-thirds of businesses helped had a better understanding of areas for development & identified new ideas for improving their business
* Customer satisfaction was high, at 79%, which increased to 93% for those companies that took up further assistance as a result of their Health Check
Press release ~ Early assessment of Business Link health checks ~ Business Link Supplier Matching Service ~ Laila’s Fine Foods ~ Garage Tek ~ BIS - Investing in our future
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