Five Top Tips for Knockout Bid Submissions

boxing gloves


Five Top Tips for Knockout Bid Submissions

  • Appoint one person whose only job is to make sure everyone else does theirs! – It is vitally important for there to be someone who is ultimately responsible for the bid, through whom every action flows. A good bid leader will drive the bid forward and coordinate a submission delivered on time and on target. Pick a good organiser and a popular team member to whom people will respond.
  • Ensure you have the right partners that will add value to the bid and have the right skills! – It’s rare for an individual to put together a large bid completely on their own. Utilise your team to build a wide-ranging team of specialists and your proposal will be completed with time to spare and resounding with confidence and knowledge
  • Brief well and set clear deadlines! – There is a period of time at the start of a bid submission where you will brief your collaborators on what is required of them and how long they have to do it. Handle this well and it will pay dividends later! Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to divide the workload. I suggest that you begin by reading the invitation documents in detail and assigning each question, section or task to a department or individual. One way to kick-start an effective and well-informed working team is to hold a group session where everyone can be briefed together, and ideas and suggestions can be shared among you.
  • Start a library (and keep it in good shape)! – Other than people a well written and well-tended content library is your greatest ally in preparing winning bids. BUT a bid comprising entirely of pre-written text is an impersonal and careless approach. A good content library if kept up to date with new and revised material, can contribute to as much as 80% of your bid, providing you and your team with more time to work on the essential and unique content that lies at the heart of every good submission.
  • Don’t count the days. Make the days count! – Channel your energies at the right time. Your energy, enthusiasm, clarity and creativity will all fluctuate wildly during the bid writing process. If you use this natural ebb and flow to maximise your most productive periods, your bid will be better for it.  Become adept at the art of timing and pacing and you’ll float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, not the other way round.

Keep an eye on progress and don’t be reluctant to send polite BUT persistent reminders as deadlines loom because when the bell goes your time is up, ready or not!

If you require bid writing support for commercial bids then please contact me at  or if you require support for research bids including Horizon2020 then contact the external projects team at









Crowd Funding – is this the future model for entrepreneurs to access finance

Crowd funding supporting projects or businesses is catching on in a big way. Not only does the model provide finance but it provides access to a larger number of people (crowd) who can test and externally validate an idea. Crowd funding takes a number of different forms including donation, reward, lending and equity. It is a way of financing projects, businesses and loans through small contributions from a large number of sources, rather than large amounts from a few.

In this blog I’m going to focus more on the rapidly growing equity type crowd funding, where individuals receive small stakes in a privately owned young business in return for investment as this is the area of crowd funding that has caused the most controversy of all!

What is equity crowd funding? In equity crowd funding businesses sell shares in their business to the crowd in return for cash. The investors become shareholders in the company with all the legal rights that this entails, for example, the right to dividends and the right to sell their shares in the future. One of the main reasons this has caused the most controversy is the principles of protecting the small investor from making risky investments where they can lose their money. However, this is the specific purpose of equity crowd funding as it allows and enables investors, who could be friends, family and strangers, to make as many small investments into companies as they wish!

Why would a business choose to crowd fund to other traditional forms of finance? Grants – Entrepreneurs often struggle with accessing public grant type funding. They are notoriously difficult to obtain and require a large amount of time and effort which may result in it being unsuccessful. Grant awards will set out a requirement for future reporting and you will be expected to observe the reporting requirements for some years after. Bank Lending – some banks may be unwilling to lend the sums of money many businesses need to grow, especially when those businesses are at an early stage of development due to the high risks involved. It has been suggested that future models with more than one bank of a quasi-crowd fund may be on the horizon!  Venture Capitalists often invest millions of pounds in a company. The money is normally put up by pension funds, insurance companies, banks and investment funds. They look for very good management, operating in a market that is either very large or is growing fast. The funds want to invest in companies that could reach significant profits within three to four years. Business Angels – before the arrival of crowd funding to find business angels you had to reach them through your own contacts or to approach them via a business angel network. Sometimes these networks would be highly secretive and charge fees to the investor and the entrepreneur. The levels of advice they provided for the fee varied widely, from offering pretty much none at all to the entrepreneur getting investor ready. Angel investing differs from crowd funding in that one or more investors may get involved in your business on a day to day basis. In the crowd, the involvement of funders is likely to be much more remote

Benefits of crowd funding The great promise of crowd funding is that it offers some advantages that other forms of financing do not. This means that more worthwhile businesses get funded and the people investing have more choices about how and who to do it with. In a world in which financial innovation has come to be associated with greed and dishonesty, it’s a welcome change!

  • Crowd funding allows you the opportunity to access funding from investors who have an inherent interest in making your project or business a success.
  • Crowd funding engages consumers in shaping and influencing what they want produced.  Early engagement also supports a feeling of added ownership where backers in partnership with the entrepreneur have a stake in trying to make the campaign successful.
  • While the crowd can be an excellent source of funds, in many cases their commitment or interest in what you are doing will motivate them to give you other forms of assistance. This can be in form of mentoring or feedback, marketing the project to others or assisting with specific task.
  • By giving investors more of a role in carrying due diligence, and automating more of the funding process, crowd funding reduces the transaction costs of getting capital to entrepreneurs, making finance cheaper.
  • Entrepreneurs come up with less initial capital from themselves, friends, family, and angel investor

Risks of Crowd funding Crowd funding has the power to change funding in a whole range of ways but we shouldn’t assume it will transform the world overnight. If crowd funding is to achieve its potential, there are a few key challenges to consider:

  • Risk and regulation; as crowd funding grows in both scale and scope, it makes the requirement for some form of oversight more important. This is particularly true of equity crowd funding where unsophisticated investors will be backing risky ventures in many cases driven primarily by the expectation of making a financial return. But at the same time, the Government should not overreact and introduce the kind of heavy handed regulation likely to stifle small new platforms.
  • Setting valuations – Entrepreneurs need to ensure they value their business correctly in order to decide how much equity to offer for the amount of equity they are seeking. This is important to ensure the entrepreneur gets a fair evaluation for their business while ensuring shares are not too expensive.
  • How web savy are you? If you know nothing about the web and especially social media, you will find crowd funding very challenging.
  • Launching your crowd funding campaign to early: you must get to know your market before launching a campaign. Specifically, you must understand who your target market is, what motivates this market to engage with their product/brand and how to best communicate and engage with them.
  • Underestimating the work and time required managing a fundraising campaign;the work involves generating momentum by tweaking and launching new perks, responding to questions and suggestions from supporters, keeping social media activities running and trying to win mainstream press coverage. Until your campaign target is within reach, the pressure is on constantly to do more of everything.

The more research I do around crowd funding the more inspired I am by the potential  that crowd funding offers both to people who need money and to those who have it and want to put it to good use. The big challenges that face crowd funding, such as regulation, are being addressed, if not yet completely resolved already.

As Commercial Funding Manager at Staffordshire University this is a model that we are currently investigating in support of Research and Development, technology transfer and business start-ups. I don’t believe that crowd funding will ever replace banks, grants or other traditional risk investment but I hope to use it as a means of raising money that we can leverage with other public and private funds to help de-risk the investment opportunity.

It would be great to hear from peoples experiences of Crowd Funding.

To find out how businesses can collaborate with Staffordshire University please click here

To find out more about me and my contact details please click here



Re-imagining the high street


Breathing new life into Britain’s high streets – Technology Strategy Board


Business have been challenged to come up with new ways to rejuvenate Britain’s high streets, as part of an £8m investment by the Technology Strategy Board

The high street is facing a growing challenge from online shopping and out-of-town superstores.

Today’s shoppers spend more than half of their outlay away from town and city centres. While sales from physical stores, both in and out of town, have remained constant over the last five years, online sales have risen by 222% or £18.5bn.

Despite a positive outlook for retail as a whole – with increasing year-on-year retail sales and a near 20% increase in online sales over the past year, high vacancy rates and challenging trading conditions for the High St remain.

A new competition through TSB will encourage exciting new developments that could change the way business is done across our high streets – David Willetts, University and Science Minister explained the following;

“Technology plays a vital role in people’s everyday lives and has the ability to influence our movements and shopping habits. By developing innovations to regenerate the retail sector we will be able to breathe new life into the UK’s high streets. This competition will encourage exciting new developments that could change the way business is done across our high streets. Giving shoppers and businesses real time information that they can use to their advantage will make a real difference in helping to boost the UK economy. This competition is aimed at encouraging businesses of all sizes to come up with innovations that address key challenges, such as ways we can combine both physical and virtual shopping or develop real-time parking information.”

The competition, ‘Re-imagining the high street‘, is being run under the SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative) programme, which provides opportunities for innovative businesses to develop products or services that solve particular challenges faced by government bodies.

Click here to find out more about the competition

The Closed Loop Building Materials Facility

View a YouTube video demonstrating the Closed Loop Building Facility Henrion Building Facade

The closed-loop system invented by Professor Michael Anderson and his team provides a method of producing high quality sustainable building products from previously unusable-quality waste glass. Using this innovative process he can produce paving slabs, external wall cladding-slips, floor tiles and construction blocks. Not only are the products themselves green, but the brick-slip product offer considerable building scope as when combined with a highly insulating backing-panel structure, the system can be used as ‘over-cladding’, thereby greatly improving the insulation of non-cavity wall Victorian/Edwardian dwellings. At the same time the visual appearance of the original structures can be preserved, as the slips can be manufactured to match the appearance of the original early brickwork. Thus allowing look-alike appearances to be maintained, this will help to contribute to the solution of preserving our heritage.

The process could also be very useful in urbanising and developing countries where rapidly growing populations are creating vast amounts of waste glass which is being dumped in landfill but which could actually be used in environmentally friendly construction projects. This would be particularly useful for tourist islands which import thousands if not millions of drink bottles every year and have to pay very high prices to then have them shipped off the island, but which could be used to regenerate existing holiday resorts.  
Finally, the process itself is self-sustaining. Unlike clay and concrete, the recycled glass products can be easily disassembled at the end of their life and recycled back into new building materials again and again and could change the entire way we think about building. This promises to make a significant contribution to sustainability in the future!   

The project was recently shortlisted for the IET Awards which celebrates the very best innovations in Science, Engineering and Technology and attracts over 400 entries from over 30 Countries with only 74 finalists being selected.

If you are interested in the project and would like to investigate further opportunities to how this could be scaled up and have potential to be commercialised please contact the team at the Office of Sustainability via or phone 01782  295837.


Priority Areas and Future Trends in the Digital Economy

The Technology Strategy Board has identified ‘Digital’ as a core focus area for their current and future programmes. They define ‘Digital’ as the complex interaction of people, processes and technology that creates digital technologies – along with their socio-economic benefits.

The internet economy in the UK is growing at 10% a year and will account for 10% of GDP by 2016. We spend more per head on and over the internet than any other nation, and UK businesses are leaders in digital technology and its uses. Our computing and telecoms, software and data, broadcast and publishing industries together contribute over £100bn to our economy – yet the impact on service industries is only just beginning to be felt. 

In this fast-moving marketplace, smaller, agile companies are particularly prominent and form an ecosystem anchored by global businesses that set standards and supply chains. 


We already enjoy many of the benefits the digital sector can deliver, but challenges remain which prevent effective exploitation and the formation of new high-growth markets and business models. Of particular relevance for us are challenges that if left unresolved could block a whole market to a new digital product or service. Such challenges may be around monetization, quality, resilience, trust, interoperability, security or inclusion. 

Often such challenges are hard to resolve due to misaligned incentives, conflicting interests, conservatism amongst incumbents, lack of – or out-dated – regulations, lack of standards, incomplete or disjointed value chains and industry fragmentation.


The TSB aim to help businesses work together in new ways to create value from digital information, content and services; rapid and continuous innovation is needed to stay ahead of the changes sweeping across the digital economy.

They aim to mitigate the risks in moving ideas towards commercialisation. The confidence needed for progress can be built through networking and knowledge sharing, and working on projects moving from small-scale feasibility studies to more ambitious collaborative work.

The internet, with increasing mobile access, is fundamentally changing the way business is done. Entire new value systems will require companies to look far beyond their existing supplier and customer relationships and work with new partners to deliver the experiences that users require. Sustained co-working will be needed to create industry-wide conversations, across sectors and between service creators, suppliers and users.

Priority Areas and Future Trends in the Built Environment

The UK construction industry is a large part of the economy: annual output in 2011 was £107bn. It accounts for 7.6% of UK GVA and directly employs approximately two million people. About a third of all UK construction is procured by the public sector.

Growing and aging populations, rapid urbanisation, new customer trends, changing infrastructure demands and more stringent environmental regulation are all putting pressure on our buildings, and simultaneously creating innovation opportunities. 

Within the UK, some of the largest environmental impacts are from operating buildings. To start to tackle these challenges the whole lifecycle of a building needs to be considered.  From concept – to design and construction – in commissioning and hand-over – during operation and adaption – and through to demolition and re-use –  where the cycle starts again.

The Technology Strategy Board leads in this area, with a variety of programmes and tools designed to accelerate innovation to improve sustainability in the built environment.


Within the UK, around 45% of total UK carbon emissions come from buildings – 27% from domestic buildings and 18% from non-domestic buildings. Much of these emissions come from space heating and hot water provision. 

Construction, globally and in the UK, has a strong subcontracting culture. This means that information and innovation can spread slowly, and contracting practice limits novel approaches or technologies due to concerns over product and professional liability – both the industry and the consumer are conservative and risk averse.


The UK has demanding targets, backed up by policy and legislation, to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. This will require far-reaching changes in design, construction, operation, refurbishment and demolition (for re-use) across the domestic and commercial built environment.

 A rapidly emerging priority for innovation is the need to lift the focus from individual buildings to groups of buildings and ultimately cities.

 To reap the greatest benefits from the needs of adaptability, efficiency and resilience requires a more holistic whole life approach; from cradle, to grave, and repeating again, and again. When considering our buildings we need to think more broadly to include the emerging social dynamics, buildings as clusters, the communities within, and all the players along the full lifecycle of buildings.

The Technology Strategy Board and Future Funding

The Technology Strategy Board established the Low Impact Buildings Innovation Platform in 2008 to support UK industry in supplying the growing market for low-impact domestic and non-domestic new build and retrofit and to support delivery of the DCLG Code for Sustainable Homes by 2016. In consultation with industry, government and the knowledge base, the Low Impact Buildings Innovation Platform is focusing on six challenges where they can effectively support innovation:

  • Design for future climate change
  • Design and decision tools
  • Build process; allowing the supply chain to innovate together 
  • Management and performance of buildings
  • Materials and components for sustainable buildings
  • Integrating with sustainable infrastructure.


Call for Innovations/Inventions for the Cleantech Innovate 2014

This is a great opportunity for you to get your innovation/invention out there and to promote Staffordshire University! If you are interested or have worked collaboratively with a company who would be interested then please let me know and I will support you in the development of the application and throughout the whole process!

Cleantech Innovate 2014  Feb 13th 2014 | Institution of Mechanical Engineers, London, Sponsored by DECC

ecoConnect’s Cleantech Innovate 2014 is a great way for leading British entrepreneurs to showcase their innovative low carbon designs!

ecoConnect are now actively seeking the great green UK innovations from which they will draw 40 finalists. It is free to apply and applications are welcome from:

  • Corporate Research & Development
  • University and Science Park Research & Development and spin-outs
  • Entrepreneurs with privately developed technology

The 40 finalists will be seen by an audience of:  

  • Investors seeking new investment opportunities in Cleantech
  • Corporate buyers seeking green solutions and partnerships
  • Media covering the sector and its trends
  • Dealmakers from Law Firms and Accountancy practices

Application deadline for presenters: 7 October 2013

How It Works

The day is divided into key sectors, e.g.: Transport, Built Environment; Energy Generation and Storage etc. Presentations within these sectors are organised into groups of 5 – each technology will present for 5 minutes and there will be opportunities for Q&A after each group of 5. Click here to see the day’s agenda

If you are interested please contact me on Tel: 01785 353519

Frost & Sullivan: These are the New Mega Trends that will Shape a Future Britain

Frost & Sullivan: These are the New Mega Trends that will Shape a Future Britain

Exclusive analysis launched during Frost & Sullivan’s Growth, Innovation and Leadership (GIL) congress GIL 2013: Europe in London

LONDON – 10 April, 2013  In the future 81 % of us in the UK will be living in urban areas, there will be 200 million connected devices and one in four British citizens will be shopping online – the highest number in the world, per capita. The over 65s will represent one fifth of the population, becoming one of the largest consumer groups with increasing healthcare needs. The country’s South East region will grow to become the second largest region after London, accounting for 15.3 % of total GDP. This is how the UK will look like in 2025 in an exclusive analysis by Frost & Sullivan titled ‘New Mega Trends in the UK’.

In this new analysis Frost & Sullivan details and analyses 12 New Mega Trends that will drive growth and innovation in the UK. “These are new areas of growth in key industries that will help economic development, boost private sector investment and promote partnerships with overseas companies,” explains Frost & Sullivan Partner Sarwant Singh.

One of the most interesting and important Mega Trends in the UK will be Connectivity and Convergence. The UK will have 200 million connected devices (six for every household) by 2020 which means that the country is on the path to becoming a digital economy with new business models and digital innovation hubs. One of the major industries that has benefited from the proliferation of digital devices is retail. Retail in the UK is transitioning from brick and mortar supermarkets to virtual stores and online hypermarkets – merging both bricks and clicks.

The Bricks and Clicks Mega Trend is influencing most British retailers to transition from having a single/multiple channel to an integrated cross-channel model, merging physical and virtual forms of retailing. The UK will have the largest online retail penetration in the world as 26 % of all retail sales will be online by 2025. Over 80 % of entertainment products will be sold online by 2025. New retailing business models in the UK have also opened up new commercial opportunities for allied industries such as logistics. We are witnessing the introduction of innovative last mile options such as click and collect, addressing challenges associated with making urban deliveries, given the Mega Trend of Urbanization in Britain.

The UK will follow the global pattern of cities – not countries – driving wealth creation in the future. As mentioned, around 81 % of the total population in UK will live in urban centres. London accounted for 20 % of UK’s GDP in 2011 and could contribute about 25 % in 2020.  This rapid rate of urbanization will compel companies to target cities as their growth markets, with most UK cities also expected to become the micro manufacturing hubs or digital hubs of the country by 2025. Urbanization will also influence companies to become more rational and optimal in their operations, creating a new ‘smarter’ UK.

Smart is the new green. This Mega Trend will see smart initiatives replacing green concepts in many parts of the UK. For example, smart technology will find its way into most homes, with nearly five million broadband homes expected to have at least one smart home system by 2017, generating £1 billion in digital revenues. Smart Mobility will save millions of pounds from reduced congestion as more door-to-door integrated mobility solutions are introduced. A key aspect of dispensing any smart initiative would centre on smart grids which are expected to increase energy efficiency by 30 %. Nearly 43 million Smart Meters are expected to be installed in 30 million UK homes by 2019 generating £14 billion to Britain by 2020.

The study also reveals many Social Trends. For example, one out of five people in the UK will be aged over 65 by 2020. The 65+ group is expected to contribute £77 billion to the British economy by 2030 (from £42 billion in 2011), with spending power to increase to £130 billion in 2030 (£78 billion in 2011). Future opportunities from Social Trends include new services and solutions in Healthcare, and neighbourhoods for aging citizens with new technologies such as robotic care for the elderly. Health, Wellness and Wellbeing in fact would become a key Mega Trend for the UK as preventive care becomes more important and relevant to its aging society. The future of Healthcare will be focussed more on wellness and well-being that define mind, body and soul.  This will create new opportunities in e-health, regenerative medicine, personalized medicine, health kiosks, tissue engineering, nutraceuticals, healthcare tourism, cybernetics, and non-invasive surgery.

With multiple growth opportunities, the UK is undoubtedly at one of its most crucial development stages of this decade. In addition to identifying these Mega Trends, Frost & Sullivan also provides insights on the implications of these trends on the UK through its Macro to Micro analysis. The ‘Macro to Micro’ scenario analysis carried out by Frost & Sullivan presents the micro impact of each Mega Trend on a business and helps design the company’s future strategy for product and technology planning in Britain. Urbanization, for example, at the micro level, creates many investment opportunities in smart infrastructure and new market / business opportunities for innovative products targeting urban households.

To know more about ‘New Mega Trends in the UK to help shape you’re Research Strategies then please contact Naomi Arblaster


The Long-term Care Revolution Sandpit Workshop

The long-term care revolution

The Technology Strategy Board is inviting applications for participation in a revolutionary sandpit workshop in the autumn looking for novel thinking to blow apart conventional thinking about institutional long-term care.

The challenge of turning around previously disenfranchised segments of the population to create a vibrant and empowered consumer group, along with their families and carers, requires radical thinking, risk taking and multidisciplinary approaches.

The aim of this sandpit is to bring together a varied group of up to 25 individuals, who might be new entrants or existing players from across the UK, with the expectation that they work together to develop radical, risky and novel ideas that can then be developed into full proposals for industry-led Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) projects. Following on from the sandpit the TSB will be awarding up to £2.4m in such projects. Academics can be fully involved as sub-contractors in the proposals

Who do we want to join? You could be from any industry sector, for example: built environment, engineering, media, tourism, aerospace, robotics, even the military. Or from an academic field, for example engineering, design, ICT, maths, management and business studies, sociology, economics, geography, legal studies, anthropology, social policy or creative arts!

The five-day Sandpit will be held 16th-20th September 2013. You can apply from 8th April 2013. The deadline for applications is Noon 12th June 2013.

Click here for further details