13 posts categorized "Featured"

11 November 2016

Urban Startup Lab from Fronesys promotes critical entrepreneurship skills in Milton Keynes

Urban Start Up Lab is a practical and hugely interactive course from Fronesys that will give entrepreneurs not just the theory but also the practical tools that are proven to help technology startups develop into successful business ventures. Mksmart logo

The course, which is part of the MK:Smart project, is suited to entrepreneurs from a range of backgrounds, from software through to engineering and design. The course will be hosted at the University Campus Milton Keynes (UCMK) on Avebury Boulevard, Central Milton Keynes, on 14-15 November and on 12-13 December. It will be run by Jyoti Banerjee, a partner at Fronesys, and Gerd Korteum, Professor of the Internet of Things and a Fronesys associate. Urban Startup Lab is being offered to Milton Keynes entrepreneurs as part of the New Enterprise Development course from the University of Bedfordshire, another member of the MK:smart consortium - the course is led by Colin Bradshaw the Professor of Management Practice at the University of Bedfordshire.

“The common assumption has been that a startup is just a small version of a large company, so people have tried to apply the same principles to get their startup going,” says Jyoti Banerjee. “Unsurprisingly, this has met with varying degrees of success. With the Urban Startup Lab, we’re going to turn that assumption on its head and support entrepreneurs with the hugely lean approach they need to get their ideas off the ground.”

“The course will provide the critical skills and knowledge needed to develop a new business around a great technology product, service or idea,” says Professor Bradshaw. “I’m excited to see what local entrepreneurs can achieve with the best tools and advice.”

The Urban Startup Lab element will be delivered as two, two-day workshops. Part I, presented on 14-15 November, will focus on the key concepts entrepreneurs need to get their startup going. Part II, presented on 12-13 December, will support delegates’ in their progress as well as help troubleshoot any challenges they might have met in the first month.

There are three New Enterprise Development sessions in-between, all designed to support the critical Parts I and II. These sessions cover business formation, finance and the business plan (21-22 November); entrepreneur leader collaborator and stakeholder communications (28-29 November); the economic dynamics of business, and market and customer strategy (5-6 December).

17 May 2015

Fronesys and the Open University collaborate to create an urban data course for startups

The hardest part of starting a new technology business is taking the first step. This is made doubly difficult when the start-up's big new idea relates to making sense of the increasing mountain of urban data produced by Smart City initiatives (like MK:Smart). Selecting the best business approach to these urban data projects is key to delivering fresh new ways for cities and their citizens to use technology and information to achieve their goals.

The latest collaboration between the Open University and Fronesys, as part of the MK:Smart programme, has produced a one day course geared toward start-ups with an interest in learning  about how to exploit commercial opportunities around urban data.  The course also covers the use of modern entrepreneurship tools to drive the creation and growth of new technology businesses.

The course outline is as follows: MKSmart logo

  1. Smart Cities and Urban Data
    • Introduction to Smart Cities
    • Overview of MK:Smart and the MK data hub
  2. Creating a successful start-up
    • Customer development: identifying customers and crafting a value proposition
    • The empirical start-up process: developing and testing business model hypotheses
  3. Exploiting urban data
    • Designing data products
    • Understanding data value chains
    • Developing and testing data business models

The course will be taught by Prof. Gerd Kortuem, professor of computing at the Open University  and Jyoti Banerjee, a partner at Fronesys.  Both are on the project board of MK:Smart, a Smart Cities programme in Milton Keynes, managed by the Open University and funded by the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE).  Gerd and Jyoti have extensive experience in creating courses and curricula for entrepreneurs and start-ups. Among other programmes, they created and taught the Software Entrepreneurship course for MBA and science PhDs at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

The first instance of the course will be held on June 26, 2015 in association with University Campus Milton Keynes (UCMK), part of the University of Bedfordshire, and also a partner in the MK:Smart programme. UCMK will be hosting the first course at its Milton Keynes facility.

Sign up to the free course here. For more information about the course, please contact Rajinder

17 November 2014

Fronesys promotes Smart Cities impact analysis at the World Bank

Fronesys partner Jyoti Banerjee called for a new approach to integrating together the impacts of cities, which enabled a meaningful assessment of how a city creates value, who creates that value, and for whom that value is created. 2014 USA Washington-18-2

Jyoti was speaking at a World Bank Public Sector Integrated reporting conference in Washington DC, where he used Milton Keynes as a case study of a city seeking to grow and create jobs, while facing significant economic, environmental and social constraints.  Jyoti's analysis was based on the work that the Fronesys team is doing in MK:SMART, a Future Cities initiative funded by the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) - Fronesys is a member of the MK:SMART consortium.

The World Bank conference was an opportunity for public sector organizations from around the world to come together in a unique initiative designed to help them improve transparency and build trust through Integrated Reporting <IR>. The Public Sector Pioneer Network was launched at the conference by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), and participants will be among the ‘first movers’ in <IR> in the public sector.2014 USA Washington-42

01 January 2014

MK:SMART Smart Cities initiative kicks off

MK:SMART is a new three-year £16m initiative, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE), which aims to provide innovative digitally-oriented solutions to the growth challenges in Milton Keynes. Fronesys is pleased to be part of the MK:SMART consortium. Ou-logo

Central to MK:SMART, which is being led by the Open University, is the creation of a state-of-the-art ‘MK Data Hub’ which will curate vast amounts of data from specially deployed energy, transport and water sensors, satellite sources, social and economic datasets, and crowd sourced data from social media or specialised apps.

Why Milton Keynes? MK happens to be the fastest-growing city in the United Kingdom. Anything that can be done to help meet the challenges of supporting growth without outstripping the capacity of the infrastructure, while meeting challenging carbon reduction targets, will be very beneficial to the citizens and businesses in Milton Keynes.

Fronesys played a role in helping win the funding from HEFCE. We created the business case that tied together the various digital initiatives into a single cohesive programme focused on value creation and growth in jobs. In particular, we brought together two main ideas: impacts that remove or mitigate barriers to growth in Milton Keynes, and impacts that drive new sources of value creation in the city.

Fronesys will play its part in the development of MK:SMART - we have been given the task of developing new education programmes that will help city leaders and others learn how to make wise decisions when it comes to Smart Cities. In this work, we will be collaborating with the Open University.

The members of the MK:SMART consortium are Anglian Water, BT, Community Action MK, e-ON, Fronesys, Graymatter, HR Wallingford, Milton Keynes City Council, Open University, Playground Energy, Satellite Applications Catapult, UCMK (University of Bedfordshire) and University of Cambridge.

For more information on MK:SMART, please see www.mksmart.org.

09 December 2013

IIRC launches Integrated Reporting Framework today

A three year journey traversed by a global coalition of companies, investors, framework providers and NGOs led by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) has resulted in the publication of a new framework for corporate reporting: The International <IR> Framework. Fronesys welcomes the publication of the framework and is keen to see it being adopted by companies around the world who are committed to transparency, governance and wise decision-making. International-IR-Framework-Cover-176x250

<IR> applies principles and concepts that are focused on bringing greater cohesion and efficiency to the reporting process, and adopting “integrated thinking” as a way of breaking down internal silos and reducing duplication.  It improves the quality of information available to providers of financial capital to enable a more efficient and productive allocation of capital.  Its focus on value creation, and the ‘capitals’ used by the business to create value over time, contributes towards a more financially stable global economy and is a force for sustainability.

The Framework will be used to accelerate the adoption of <IR> across the world, where it is currently being trialled in over 25 countries, 16 of which are members of the G20, the group of nations focused on strengthening the global economy.

Commenting on the release of the Framework, IIRC Chairman Professor Mervyn King SC, said, “We have been taken aback by the degree to which mainstream businesses and investors have been willing to participate in creating this Framework and embarking on their own <IR> journey.  Last month PepsiCo became the latest global company to sign up to the IIRC’s 100-plus strong business network, which includes HSBC, Unilever, Deutsche Bank, China Light & Power, Hyundai Engineering and Construction, National Australia Bank and Tata Steel."

Jyoti Banerjee, partner at Fronesys, who worked with the IIRC's management team in developing its plans for the release of the framework, had this to say: "Corporate reporting, as practiced today across the world, is broken.  It is broken because it is almost always only about the financial performance of a company - we now know that in most modern companies, the financial statements only capture around a quarter of the value they create. It is also broken because reporting is usually focused on a single period, say a quarter or a year. And it is broken because it is backwards-looking. We need a better way to understand how companies create value, and a better way to help investors make good capital allocation decisions. The <IR> Framework offers just such a solution to the crisis in corporate reporting."

For more information about the <IR> Framework, please see: http://www.theiirc.org/international-ir-framework/.

03 June 2013

Fronesys in winning consortium for WRAP framework contract

Fronesys is pleased to announce that our consortium (Fronesys and its partners Advancing Sustainability, as consortium leader, and Sustain) has won a WRAP Framework Contract (FRA052 Resource Efficiency in Products) through which we can provide a tailored support package advising on a range of issues from accessing finance to marketing and business strategy. WRAP logo

WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) is a not-for-profit private company backed by funding from the Department for Environmental Food and Rural Affairs, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Assembly Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and others.

In this area, Fronesys focuses its work on:

  • reducing waste
  • driving greater resource productivity
  • positioning UK businesses to better address emerging resource security/scarcity issues in the future
  • helping reduce the environmental impacts of our production and consumption in both the UK and abroad
  • 19 September 2012

    ITU launches sustainability toolkit ... with some help from Fronesys

    This week the International Telecommunications Union, the UN body tasked with setting standards in the technology sector, is launching an environmental toolkit aimed at helping ICT companies manage their sustainability performance. Fronesys was glad to help ITU get the toolkit together.

    Over fifty tech companies from around the world contributed to this toolkit. We made a significant contribution of our own: we wrote two of the seven documents in the toolkit, and edited the whole effort.

    There is no shortage of standards, guidelines and tools targeting the sustainability performance of the technology sector. Why do we need another one? The problem with existing material is that none of it is comprehensive in coverage of all the major activities of an ICT organisation. And most are not practical in allowing the integration of regulatory compliance, good practice and business performance. This toolkit aims at just such a balancing act.

    The Smart 2020 report found that the full life cycle carbon footprint of the ICT industry represents around 2% of worldwide emissions, and is projected to grow at a 6% annual compound growth rate. Although the sector’s emissions are rising, its largest influence is expected to be through enabling increased energy efficiencies and improved environmental performance in other sectors.

    A significant challenge for ICT companies is that in enabling better environmental performance elsewhere, the ICT sector is itself taking on significant burdens, at a time when there is greater scrutiny applied to environmental performance, and, often, at much greater cost. As a result, it is important for ICT organizations to use sustainability actions to drive their own business performance, while being more responsible corporate citizens.

    Toolkit content

    The Toolkit on Environmental Sustainability for the ICT sector is an ITU-T initiative which provides plenty of detailed support on how ICT companies can build sustainability into the operations and management of their organizations, through the practical application of international standards and guidelines.

    The basic components of the toolkit are a number of individual documents, each covering a separate area, as follows:

    • Introduction to the toolkit
    • Sustainable ICT in corporate organizations, focusing on the main sustainability issues that companies face in using ICT products and services in their own organisations across four main ICT areas: data centers, desktop infrastructure, broadcasting services and telecommunications networks.
    • Sustainable products, where the aim is to build sustainable products through the use of environmentally-conscious design principles and practices, covering development and manufacture, through to end-of-life treatment.
    • Sustainable buildings, which focuses on the application of sustainability management to
      buildings through the stages of construction, lifetime use and de-commissioning, as ICT companies build and operate facilities that can demand large amounts of energy and material use in all phases of the life cycle.
    • End-of-life management, covering the various end-of-life (EOL) stages, and their
      accompanying legislation, and provides support in creating a framework for
      environmentally-sound management of EOL ICT equipment.
    • General specifications and key performance indicators, with a focus on the matching environmental KPIs to an organization’s specific business strategy targets, and the construction of standardized processes to make sure the KPI data is as useful as possible to management.
    • Assessment framework for environmental impacts, explores how the various standards and guidelines can be mapped so that an organization can create a sustainability
      framework that is relevant to their own business objectives and desired sustainability performance.

    Each document features a discussion of the topic, including standards, guidelines and methodologies that are available, and a check list that assists the sustainability practitioner make sure they are not missing out anything important.

    Although the toolkit is wide-ranging and designed to help improve business and sustainability performance, some companies may decide that they cannot afford to use such tools, particularly in the light of a negative business outlook. This document explores why companies cannot ignore their sustainability performance if they seek superior financial performance.

    Finally, the document covers how the toolkit may mature and develop in future, through extending its scope, deepening its metrics, lowering the questionnaire burden on ICT companies, and through the provision of an implementation program to enable national regulators, policy-makers and individual ICT organizations to use the toolkit to achieve their own objectives.


    Most obviously, this toolkit is aimed at the leaders and managers of technology companies. It gives them a single framework covering all their major environmental impacts so that they can deliver their business objectives while meeting best practice guidelines and complying with standards and regulations.

    However, the scope should also be interesting to policy-makers who want to consider the breadth and scope of regulations they wish to put in place with respect to the ICT companies operating in their jurisdiction. And it is potentially interesting to researchers as a basis for carrying out sectoral, national and international studies on the environmental impacts of the technology industry.

    Wondering how to take advantage of the toolkit in your own organisation? Fronesys can help. After all, we are quite expert with this toolkit! We can offer you a targeted assessment assessing how you manage your environmental impacts, and how the toolkit can help improve your performance. Get in touch.

    28 March 2012

    Common and not so common sustainability themes

    How can companies and stakeholders easily identify those sustainability issues that are hot and those that are not? Fronesys offers a materiality hit parade. Materiality Futures cog image

    The sustainability press today is filled with coverage of a wide range of non-economic issues and impacts that companies have to pay attention to.  But which of these issues do companies believe to be material to their performance, and which are not?   

    To answer this question, Fronesys analysed sustainability reports from 31 different companies, as published in Materiality Futures, our coverage of where the art and science of materiality reporting has got to.  In this report, authored by Chris Tuppen, we found that the 31 companies in our study referenced nearly 140 sustainability issues between them, covering economic, governance, environmental, social and global trends. 

    Before we examine the sustainability issues in question, we should lay out how we chose which companies to include in our analysis. Remember, the study was about materiality reporting, and so our goal was to identify all those companies that met the following criteria:

    • they published a materiality matrix of the sort laid out AccountAbility's Materiality Report, a methodology subsequently adopted as the basis of the related Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) technical protocol on report content.
    • their materiality matrix had at least three degrees of granularity per axis ( the way most companies present their materiality matrix, the vertical axis usually represents the stakeholder, and the horizontal axis the company)
    • individual issues are identified and positioned on the matrix

    As a result of sifting through sustainability reports via corporateregister.com, Framework:CR materiality analysis, and internet search engines, we found only 31 companies actually met our criteria. Although many companies respond to GRI indicator 3.5 and say they use a materiality determination process, relatively few disclose much detail on either the process or the determined level of materiality for individual sustainability issues. Note that this analysis covers sustainability reports published before August 1, 2011.  A full list of the 31 companies is available on the Fronesys website.

    Although we could simply list the 140 or so issues that crop up via the reports of these 31 companies, we can understand their significance better if we explore some metrics:

    • number of companies covering the issue
    • average, minimum and maximum scores on the company axis
    • average, minimum and maximum scores on the stakeholder axis

    To prevent the analysis from being clouded by issues that are important to just one or two companies, we did a further sift to exclude issues that were not featured by at least five different companies, and found that 50 issues met this additional filter. 

    Hit parade

    So which are the top sustainability issues? 

    Here's a table that lays out the top six sustainability issues, based on a sum of the average score from a company perspective and the average score from a stakeholder perspective:

    Top Sustainability Issues
    Source: Fronesys Materiality Futures report, 2011

    So if the top sustainability issues in company materiality reporting are sustainable products, carbon footprints, economic development / emerging markets, etc, etc, which are the ones that are bottom of the pile? Well, here's the bottom six, using exactly the same methodology as above:

    • Work/life balance
    • economic contributions, including tax
    • volunteering
    • freedom of association
    • biodiversity
    • senior executive remuneration

    It is not that these are unimportant issues. After all, biodiversity, for example, featured on the materiality matrix in 19 separate companies, the most commonly cited issue after climate change and diversity.  Yet it is not rated highly as a material issue, either by companies or stakeholders. It is almost like they don't know what to do with the issue - but that would be the topic of another blog altogether.

     Overall, it is very useful to get a view of what issues are actually making their mark on corporate managers - one has to assume that the more public the statements about materiality get, the more companies need to act (and be seen to be acting) to manage these impacts.

    Maintaining such a Top 50 list could be a useful service to the players in the market: companies can compare their own analyses with those of their peers, while stakeholders get a list of which issues are cooking and which need more attention. 

    Here's to more material number-crunching. 

    24 January 2012

    Fronesys supports Aviva stance on sustainability reporting

    Aviva investorsFronesys has joined the initiative led by Aviva Investors to convene a Corporate Sustainability Reporting Coalition (CSRC), which is calling on United Nations (UN) member states to commit to develop a policy framework on corporate sustainability reporting.

    The focus of the initiative is the Rio +20 Earth Summit on sustainable development, which has its 20th anniversary in June 2012. Aviva's initiative is inviting heads of state and heads of government to take action.

    The convention is proposing (see attached PDF) that UN member states at Rio +20 commit to develop national regulations mandating the integration of material sustainability issues in companies’ Annual Report & Accounts. We are also advocating effective mechanisms for investors to hold companies to account on the quality of their disclosures – eg through an advisory vote at the AGM.

    The production of a report and accounts that integrates sustainability throughout will help create the right kind of discussions within boardrooms, throughout firms and encourage investors to think about the sustainability of the firm. We believe this will help capital to be allocated to more sustainable, responsible companies and strengthen the long term sustainability of the financial system.

    Already countries like India and Brazil are exploring mandatory sustainability reporting and this initiative will be encouraging other countries to embark on the same journey. Clearly, the introduction of integrated reporting offers one key mechanism for bringing sustainability into the mainstream of corporate reporting.


    29 November 2011

    Fronesys collaborates on ICT sustainability with ITU

    Fronesys is collaborating with a group of information and communications technology companies under the auspices of the ITU (The International Telecommunication Union) to help communicate the importance of sustainability.  ITU

    The major thrust of the effort is in creating guidelines for corporate companies on sustainability issues relating to ICT, and confirming the vital role that standards play in this regard. Fronesys is very pleased to be involved in this work. 

    To find out more , check out http://www.itu.int/ITU-T/climatechange/ess/index.html