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In the loop

This September, a submarine fibre optic cable built and operated by Aqua Comms and consortium partners Facebook, Google and Bulk Infrastructure is due to land at a Meet Me Station at Blackpool Airport. Part of the North Atlantic Loop, which links New York, Ireland, the UK and Northern Europe, the high capacity network will connect Blackpool to New York in under 0.06 seconds, giving the town faster transatlantic internet connectivity than London. Blackpool Council leader Cllr Simon Blackburn said: “Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone is set to become one of the newest gateways on the North Atlantic Loop and is perfectly positioned to tap into some amazing opportunities in the digital, creative and technology markets that until now have not been available to us. The council is extremely excited by the competitive advantage and economic possibilities the new subsea cable opens up and we are exploring all opportunities to maximise the ‘meet me point’ at the Enterprise Zone for the benefit of the local economy.”


Compostable capsules

Businesses worried about the environmental impact of their Nespresso coffee machines might be interested in a new range of Nespresso-compatible capsules from Lost Sheep Coffee. Made predominantly from wood bark, or lignin, a waste product of the paper industry, the capsules are 100% compostable and completely air-tight for 12 months, ensuring that the single-origin, grade 1, hand-roasted coffee stays fresh and delicious. Two varieties are available: Smooth Journey for everyday drinking; and Funky Camper for curious connoisseurs.

Prices start at 28p per pod.
01227 230 444


5G to fuel start-up boom

5G could help businesses compete with rivals
5G could help businesses compete with rivals

Vodafone claims that 5G could fuel a startup boom, after 60% of new businesses surveyed by the company said the technology would help them compete with larger, more established rivals. Released to coincide with the opening of the Vodafone Digital Innovation Hub at MediaCityUK, Salford, the survey shows that most businesses expect 5G to enhance their competitiveness (58%) and change the way they operate (56%). Vodafone also expects 5G to double the size of the mobile gaming industry thanks to its low latency and speeds up to ten times faster than 4G.


Evolution of the pop-up

Temporary retail space
Temporary retail space

First there were shops, then pop-ups and now micro-pop-ups. This new type of temporary retail space can be as small as a single drawer in a store, a countertop box or even just one berth in wine merchant’s bottle rack. Examples highlighted by Direct Line for Business in its new study of the phenomenon include a single clothing rail in a pizza restaurant, a shelf in a phone box and the basket on a baker’s bicycle. With prices starting from as little as £1 per day, micro-pop-ups are considerably cheaper than the average pop-up retail unit (£342 per day). Direct Line for Business is advising pop-up retailers to take out cover for both public liability and product liability.


AI for MSK

EQL, part of the Google Cloud for Startups Programme, has launched an AI-driven triage tool for musculo-skeletal (MSK) conditions that reduces the need for costly human intervention and offers an alternative to telephone-based and remote physiotherapy services. The app, due to undergo clinical validation by the University of Birmingham, features a chatbot, called Phio, that uses AI and machine learning to adapt its behaviour to every user, absorb knowledge and develop a ‘personality’. Algorithms guide users to the appropriate pathway: urgent care for those with ‘red flag’ symptoms; face-to-face care for those not suited to self-managed care; and a Digital Injury Management option, following later in the year, for those with low-grade injuries.


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