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Blockchain - Integrating new technologies in smart ways

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Recent media reports suggest a new cryptocurrency legislation for safe cryptocurrency exchange could be introduced in the EU countries. By this new legislation, under the new guidelines, Bitcoin and other digital currencies will be named monetary instruments all through Europe. This means legal cryptocurrency exchange will be more transparent than ever. Moreover, it is said that this new legislation will encourage the innovation associated to crypto and blockchains sector.

One area looking to new innovation using the blockchain is the cross-border money movement in multi-commodity trading business, which is very complex. There are a number of stakeholders, intermediaries and banks operating together to make deals happen. The supply chain deals are massive in value and happen very frequently.

“Many traditional banks have recently exited trade finance sector because it's simply too risky for them,” said Ali Amirliravi, CEO of LGR Global. “The banks that stay have no incentive to optimize the inefficient processes, that’s because as the companies are working to gather up all the required documentation and address the compliance needs, the banks are sitting back and charging interest - they actually don’t care how long it takes, it’s the trading companies that have to pay the extra fees.

"It gets even worse in what we call the 'Silk Road Countries'- the areas between Europe, Central Asia and China. Here you really see big differences within the supply chains and they also have to deal with large number of different currencies. You’ve got some companies that are using all manual, paper based processes and others that are moving into digital - there’s no standardization and that’s a real problem."

Ali Amirliravi’s  LGR Global is a member of the Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce - an international association with the aim of increasing trade amongst members and states.

“These issues outlined are brought up frequently at the high-level meetings of the chamber of commerce,” said  Amirliravi . “The influence of my own experience in the industry mixed with the stories of other stakeholders really pushed me to start to create end-to-end digital system. We are building a better way to do things, one that is faster, cheaper and more transparent for all parties involved. “

“It comes down to integrating new technologies in smart ways. Take my company for example, LGR Global, when it comes to money movement, we are focused on 3 things: speed, cost & transparency. To address these issues, we use leading technologies such as  blockchain, digital currencies, and general digitization to optimize the existing processes.

It's quite clear the impact that new technologies can have on things like speed and transparency, but when I say it’s important to integrate the technologies in a smart way that’s important because you always have to keep your customer in mind - the last thing we would want to do is introduce a system that actually confuses our users and makes his or her job more complicated. So on one hand, the solution to these problems is found in new technology, but on the other hand, it’s about creating a user experience that is simple to use and interact with and integrates seamlessly into the existing systems. So it’s a bit of a balancing act between technology and user experience, that’s where the solution is going to be created.

When it comes to the broader topic of supply chain finance, what we see is the need for improved digitalization and automation of the processes and mechanisms that exist throughout the product lifecycle. In the multi-commodity trading industry, there are so many different stakeholders, middlemen, banks, etc. and each of them have their own way of doing this - there is an overall lack of standardization, particularly in the Silk Road Area. The lack of standardization leads to confusion in compliance requirements, trade documents, letters of credit, etc., and this means delays and increased costs for all parties. Furthermore, we have the huge issue of fraud, which you have to expect when you are dealing with such disparity in the quality of processes and reporting. The solution here is again to use technology and digitalize and automate as many of these processes as possible - it should be the goal to reduce risks and take human error out of the equation.

And here is the really exciting thing about bringing digitalization and standardization to supply chain finance: not only is this going to make doing business much more straightforward for the companies themselves, this increased transparency and optimization will also make the companies much more attractive to outside investors. It’s a win-win for everyone involved here.”

Business

International safety company Bollé announces partnership with Welsh manufacturer to drive international supply of protective eyewear equipment

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Production of a new range of safety eyewear for one of the world's leading names in the industry, Bollé, has begun at a site in Wales. Bollé Safety, a specialist in the development of personal protective equipment (PPE) eyewear, has announced a partnership with Welsh firm, RotoMedical, part of Rototherm Group, which has become the French company’s exclusive UK manufacturer of PPE eyewear for the health-care industry.

More than three million PPE items are set to be produced a month at RotoMedical’s manufacturing base in Port Talbot, South Wales, following the launch of production at the beginning of June. The partnership, which has been praised by Life Sciences Hub Wales, will see products distributed across the UK and Ireland as well as exported to healthcare markets globally, with key regions including Europe, Australia and North America.

RotoMedical’s expansion into the life sciences sector has been supported by Life Sciences Hub Wales, which has worked to supply the business with access to contacts, expertise and advice to help with the expansion.

Ahead of the production launch, senior representatives at Bollé, which has its European headquarters based in Lyon, visited RotoMedical’s manufacturing base in the Welsh valleys to make final product checks and confirm certifications.

Bollé Safety Sales Vice President Ian Walbeoff said: “At Bollé Safety, our mission has always been to protect the eyesight of healthcare professionals across the world, even in the most challenging environments, ensuring they are able to safely work on the frontline. At the heart of our brand is a genuine desire to continually innovate and use the best available technology to create the highest quality products, and our partnership with RotoMedical will play a key role in achieving this.

“Combining both our companies’ long-standing legacies and expertise will enable us to collaboratively design, manufacture and assemble products that put innovation at the fore and set a new global industry standard when it comes to performance, excellence and sustainability”.

Rototherm Group, a company dating back to the 1880s, specialises in the production of industrial measuring instruments. During the pandemic, the firm pivoted to also produce medical masks and protective face shields for health and care workers under the brand RotoMedical.

Since the pandemic’s arrival in the UK, the Port Talbot manufacturer has increased production capacity of plastic face visors from a 1,000 per day to 250,000 every week. That rapid success has catalysed further expansion into the life sciences sector, as RotoMedical has progressed to produce BSI certified Type IIR face masks, which are surgical grade and designed for use by healthcare professionals.

Rototherm Group Business Development Director Tarkan Conger said: “Our ambition has always been to continue to expand and develop the business, and in turn to create more jobs for the local economy. The partnership with Bollé will enable us to build on our industrial expertise and innovation as we embed ourselves in the life sciences sector, expanding into new manufacturing capabilities and markets.”

Following the supply contract with Bollé, the company added safety goggles to its remit, for which it has created a dedicated automated production line. The Bollé face shields will be manufactured by RotoMedical, Rototherm's medical and protective equipment division, using locally sourced raw materials.

Rototherm Group Managing Director Oliver Conger said: “We’re proud to be an SME in Wales, and the drive is to continue securing partnerships with other companies in Wales and internationally. With the help of Life Sciences Hub Wales, we have been able to establish links throughout Welsh industry, and we’re committed to further growing our global presence. We’ve invested everything we’ve got into the local economy and into the business, which will continue as we expand internationally.”

Bollé Safety Sales Vice President Ian Walbeoff added: “This partnership marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Bollé Safety in Wales and the UK as we continue to grow our presence in the country and invest in local communities. It will help us to further our capabilities developing products with sustainability at their core as we will work with locally sourced materials, proudly boasting the ‘Made in Britain’ stamp of excellence.

“The capabilities at Rototherm are testament to the highly skilled manufacturing workforce available here in Wales, and we look forward to playing a part in further driving manufacturing excellence from the region.”

Speaking about the new partnership between Rototherm and Bollé Safety, Cari-Anne Quinn, CEO at Life Sciences Hub Wales said: “Life Sciences Hub Wales is proud to be supporting Rototherm’s journey into the life sciences sector and welcome the expanding international connections. We congratulate them for the work they have done to support the UK during a time of great need and on securing this contract will Bollé which will see these successes continue.”

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EU

European Social Fund: Fighting poverty and unemployment

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The improved European Social Fund+ programme focuses on fighting child poverty and youth unemployment in Europe, Society.

On 8 June, the European Parliament adopted new rules to tackle unemployment and poverty in the EU in the wake of the pandemic crisis. The renewed and simplified European Social Fund, known as the European Social Fund+, will focus on children and youth.

With a budget of €88 billion for 2021-2027, the fund will help EU countries provide access to free education, decent food and housing for children. It will also support investments in apprenticeships and vocational training for unemployed young people.

Many people are concerned about social and employment issues. The fund will promote social inclusion for those suffering job losses and income reduction and will provide food and basic assistance to the most deprived. What is the European Social Fund?  

  • It is the EU's oldest financial instrument to invest in people, improve job opportunities for workers and raise their standard of living.  
  • Funding is distributed to EU countries and regions to finance operational programmes and employment-related projects, from helping to create work to addressing educational gaps, poverty and social inclusion.
  • Beneficiaries are usually people, but funding can also be used to help companies and organizations. 
More flexibility, simplicity and efficiency

The updated European Social Fund Plus merges a number of existing funds and programmes, pooling their resources:

This allows for more integrated and targeted support. For instance, people affected by poverty will benefit from a better mix of material assistance and comprehensive social support.

Because of these more flexible and simpler rules, it should be easier for people and organizations to benefit from the fund.

Priorities

The European Social Fund+ will invest in three main areas:

  • Education, training and lifelong learning
  • Effectiveness of labour markets and equal access to quality employment
  • Social inclusion and combatting poverty

The fund also supports initiatives enabling people to find better employment or work in a different EU region or country. This includes developing new skills for new types of jobs required by the green and digital transitions.

Read more about social policies 

European Social Fund+  

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Data protection

Online privacy: The GDPR struggle

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Two years after the implementation of the GDPR, 45% of European internet users still do not feel confident in their internet privacy. While the vast majority of companies are still not being fined for failing to protect their customers' data, the intended purpose of the GDPR is beaten by the silly complexity to refusing to share our data, very often presented as a pop-up allowing you to check what you agree to share, many websites still do not even offer you the possibility to refuse at all.

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