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Birmingham joins global network of design and digital consultancies

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Representatives of the Design Factory Birmingham
Based at Aston University, expertise in areas such as 3D printing will be shared to boost the local economy

Birmingham has become the latest city to join a global network of design and digital consultancies set up to solve real world challenges through effective problem-solving.

Design Factory Birmingham will be based at Aston University, one of just two hubs in the UK outside of London.

The city has officially joined the Design Factory Global Network earlier this month. As a result, businesses, industry partners, entrepreneurs, staff and students will be able to collaborate on projects that will involve technologies such as 3D printers and design software.

The University will be sharing its expertise in artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, data science and web, app and graphic design to boost the local economy.

Currently there are 39 innovation hubs in 25 countries across five continents based in universities and research organisations.

The Design Factory will include a space named after the late Dame Margaret Weston, former director of the Science Museum. Dame Margaret had studied electrical engineering at one of Aston University’s predecessor institutions and went on to be the first woman appointed to lead a national museum. She left a generous gift to Aston University in her will, which will be commemorated in the Birmingham Design Factory in honour of her engineering background.

“The Design Factory Birmingham is another key milestone in our ambition to be a leader in science, technology, and innovation, driving socio-economic transformation in our city and region.  It is important to the Midlands because it will make a direct contribution to innovation led growth in partnership with industry and businesses.  However, this is not only a local launch but also a global launch as Design Factory Birmingham is a global innovation hub, and an integral part of the Design Factory Global Network involving 39 innovation hubs around the world,” says The Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Aston University, Professor Aleks Subic. 

“Shared understanding and common ways of working enable Design Factories in the network to collaborate efficiently across cultures, time zones and organisational boundaries fostering radical innovations,” says the head of the Design Factory Global Network Felipe Gárate from Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland who attended the official launch in Birmingham, UK.

There are 39 Design Factory hubs around the world with three of them being based in the UK.

As a member of the global network the Birmingham Design Factory at Aston University will participate in two global design challenges – one run by McDonalds and the other run by the Ford Motor Company.

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Event brings entrepreneurs together to talk the future of tech in the UK

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Spotify has assembled entrepreneurs and trailblazers for a series of thought-provoking conversations alongside a group of influencers, commentators, and policymakers. Dustee Jenkins, Chief Public Affairs Officer at Spotify, hosted the evening at the company’s HQ in London. To kick things off, Jenkins sat down with Brent Hoberman, who cofounded the online travel and leisure retailer lastminute.com in 1998. “Primarily what is organic here [in the UK] is talent,” he noted. “There is a huge depth of talent. It’s one of the highest densities of top corporates: Those corporates actually educate and train talent, and a lot of that talent wants to work at startups. You’ve got talent, capital and skills.” Spotify’s Co-President and Chief Business Officer Alex Norström then sat down with venture capitalist Harry Stebbings, host of The Twenty Minute VC podcast. Harry launched the podcast as a teenager in 2015 and has since interviewed thousands of investors, entrepreneurs, and startup founders. The two unpacked how founders can overcome barriers to growth in today’s tech sector, and Harry asked Alex what he likes about London. “I’m impressed by the passion of London,” Alex replied. “I came here thinking I was going to get a lot of rain. I got vibrancy and dynamism, both culturally as well as in business.” The event also featured her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice of York – founder of BY-EQ and Vice President of Partnerships and Strategy at Afiniti - hosting a fireside chat with Priya Dogra, Former President of WarnerBros Discovery for EMEA, and Sakshi Chhabra Mittal, founder and CEO of Foodhak, a science-based meal delivery service. The three discussed the impact tech is having on mission-driven companies and strategies for designing businesses in the modern age, as well as how to bring more women into tech. Exceeding £1 trillion, the UK’s technology market is the largest in Europe and the third-largest in the world. The country has been an important piece of the Spotify puzzle since it launched in 2008. Nowadays as one of our biggest research and development hubs, it’s where the company experiment with some of its newest launches and products, including audiobooks in Premium, video-based learning courses, and, most recently, AI Playlist. Spotify’s success in the U.K. is due in large part to the country’s open, connected, and competitive economy.
Spotify has assembled entrepreneurs and trailblazers for a series of conversations in London

Spotify has assembled entrepreneurs and trailblazers for a series of thought-provoking conversations alongside a group of influencers, commentators, and policymakers. Dustee Jenkins, Chief Public Affairs Officer at Spotify, hosted the evening at the company’s HQ in London.

To kick things off, Jenkins sat down with Brent Hoberman, who cofounded the online travel and leisure retailer lastminute.com in 1998.

“Primarily what is organic here [in the UK] is talent,” he noted. “There is a huge depth of talent. It’s one of the highest densities of top corporates: Those corporates actually educate and train talent, and a lot of that talent wants to work at startups. You’ve got talent, capital and skills.”

Spotify’s Co-President and Chief Business Officer Alex Norström then sat down with venture capitalist Harry Stebbings, host of The Twenty Minute VC podcast. Harry launched the podcast as a teenager in 2015 and has since interviewed thousands of investors, entrepreneurs, and startup founders. The two unpacked how founders can overcome barriers to growth in today’s tech sector, and Harry asked Alex what he likes about London.

“I’m impressed by the passion of London,” Alex replied. “I came here thinking I was going to get a lot of rain. I got vibrancy and dynamism, both culturally as well as in business.”

The event also featured her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice of York – founder of BY-EQ and Vice President of Partnerships and Strategy at Afiniti – hosting a fireside chat with Priya Dogra, Former President of WarnerBros Discovery for EMEA, and Sakshi Chhabra Mittal, founder and CEO of Foodhak, a science-based meal delivery service. The three discussed the impact tech is having on mission-driven companies and strategies for designing businesses in the modern age, as well as how to bring more women into tech.

Exceeding £1 trillion, the UK’s technology market is the largest in Europe and the third-largest in the world. The country has been an important piece of the Spotify puzzle since it launched in 2008. Nowadays as one of our biggest research and development hubs, it’s where the company experiment with some of its newest launches and products, including audiobooks in Premium, video-based learning courses, and, most recently, AI Playlist.

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What is credit invisibility and how can it affect your finances?

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A woman paying groceries with cash
Only paying in cash will make it difficult to build a credit history and may make you may be credit invisible

If you’ve never taken out a loan or owned a credit card, you may be credit invisible. This means that financial institutions have no records to show that you’ve borrowed money responsibly in the past, which lenders largely rely on to approve you for financial products.

Everybody starts off with invisible credit. However, it can affect you in more ways than one, so it’s important to seek ways to build your credit history as early as you can. Here, we look at some of the effects of credit invisibility on your finances, and offer a few tips to start becoming credit visible.

Access to financial products

Before being approved for any kind of financial product in which you borrow an amount of money, a lender will run a credit check to ensure you have a good credit history. Usually, they’ll be looking to see that you have a high credit score – this would prove that you’ve borrowed money responsibly in the past, and have been able to continuously keep up with repayment obligations.

When you have no credit history for lenders to look at, it can make it harder to qualify for financial products. Your lender will know that you have no prior experience managing borrowed money, and therefore can’t for certain know that you’ll pay any amount back that you borrow. This can be true of all kinds of borrowing options, such as credit cards and loans.

Low limits, high fees

Ultimately, everyone starts off with limited or invisible credit history. So, there will always be a restricted number of financial products available to those looking to borrow for the first time.

However, you may not be offered the best deal if you’re credit invisible. For example, you might be offered a lower limit on a credit card you apply for, or a smaller sum of money on a loan. Plus, you’re likely to face higher interest fees than those who have a visible credit history.

Stagnated progression

Most people will need to borrow money from a lender at some point or another. Usually this will be to pay for a big life expense – you may be buying a house with a mortgage, or purchasing a car on finance. Having limited access to credit options can make goals like these much harder to work towards and obtain. Unfortunately, this could have a knock on effect on your overall quality of life.

Limited access to financial products means that you’ll largely have to rely on your own savings to make any big purchases – this could set you back years when it comes to owning a property.

How can you become credit visible?

Luckily, credit invisibility impacting your quality of life in the long-term is a worst-case scenario. As long as you take a proactive approach towards your finances, you can easily remedy your credit invisibility.

There are plenty of simple steps you can take to become credit visible – you can get on the electoral roll, link your current account to a credit reference agency, or take out a monthly mobile phone contract. These tasks won’t necessarily prove that you can borrow money responsibly, but they’re a good place to start.

Next, you’ll want to look into credit options. Taking out a credit card or loan with a low limit and a high interest rate can seem like an unappealing option, but as long as you can cope with the financial responsibility, it’ll be worth it in the long run. By sticking to your limit and repayment commitments, you’ll prove to your lender that you are a responsible borrower. In turn, this will be reflected on your credit report, and your credit history will begin to take shape. Using such a product responsibly is likely to boost your credit score rather swiftly, which can qualify you for further credit options. You may even find that after a set period of time, your lender is willing to increase your limit and offer a lower rate of interest on your product.

Getting started

Keen to start building your credit history? Do plenty of research on the products available to you before making any long-term commitment. To ensure that you can keep up with the financial responsibility, create a detailed financial plan for the best results.

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Extreme tourism market to reach $91 Billion

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Extreme Tourism Market to Reach $91.0 Billion
Mountain climbing held the highest extreme tourism market share in 2022 | Photo: Connor Moynihan

A recent report published by Allied Market Research forecasts that the global extreme tourism market, valued at $24.2 billion in 2022, could reach $91.0 billion by 2032.

The growing influence of social media is a powerful force surging demand in the extreme tourism market, which attracts travellers those leaving their comfort zones to engage in activities that are considered high-risk, adventurous, or unconventional, such as skydiving, bungee jumping, and rock climbing. Thanks to platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, serving visuals and tutorials breathtaking adventures,

Travelers, inspired by visually appealing content on platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, are actively seeking out thrilling experiences to share on their own social networks, driving a sense of Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) among younger demographics, compelling them to actively participate in adrenaline-pumping activities to create their shareable moments.

By adventure type, the mountain climbing segment held the highest market share in 2022, accounting for more the two-fifths of the global extreme tourism market revenue and is estimated to maintain its leadership status throughout the forecast period. However, the skydiving segment is projected to manifest the highest CAGR of 15.2% from 2023 to 2032.

25 to 45 years is the age group holding the highest market share since 2022, according to the report, accounting for more than two-fifths of the global extreme tourism market revenue. The segment is estimated to maintain its leadership status throughout the forecast period. However, by 2032 it will be below 25 years segment that is projected to have the highest CAGR: 15.3%.

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