33 posts categorized "Fronesys"

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).

16 March 2016

How to embed integrated thinking into your organisation

Integrated thinking, and its close cousin Integrated Reporting, are both gaining global impetus. We asked Fronesys associate Natalya Sverjensky to unpack the virtuous cycle that drives performance. 

It is an increasingly mainstream view that reporting has lost its purpose. Companies are focusing on short-term financial performance — because that is what they believe investors are interested in — to the detriment of long-term value creation. Natalya

Two things are beginning to help reconnect the dots. Demand is growing from shareholders and stakeholders for the board to articulate a clear strategy for creating longer-term value, as well as the metrics to support it. Alongside this, the rise of non-financials is broadening the reporting landscape.

Now more than ever before, companies and their stakeholders need the practical wisdom to understand and define value creation in a holistic way.

The integrated reporting movement is part of the answer. As defined by the International Integrated Reporting Council, <IR> is a concise communication about how an organization's strategy, governance, performance and prospects, in the context of its external environment, lead to the creation of value over the short, medium and long term.

But is adopting <IR> enough? The growing consensus is that integrated thinking and reporting needs to do more than bring clarity and streamline disclosure. It needs to drive decision-making.

Activating the virtuous cycle of integrated thinking and reporting

Companies capture the most value from integrated thinking and reporting when it becomes a virtuous cycle driving performance over the long term. In other words, the process has to go beyond reporting. This means applying the insight from integrated thinking and reporting to influence business strategy and operations.

But it’s easier said than done.

Key challenges

Today, over 2000 companies across the world are on this journey in some way. Members of the Fronesys team engaged a selection of these pioneers in 2015 to take stock of the state of the art. Amongst our insights, one overarching truth stood out: making a new way of thinking become a new way of doing business is hard.

Corporate leaders are facing four complex challenges to embedding integrated thinking across their organizations:

Value – Short-termism in corporate structure and the wider market environment continues to drive prioritisation of profit over other forms of value creation
Strategy – Corporate strategy planning processes run independently of insight gathered for reporting, and financial and non-financial priorities are rarely connected
Execution – Strategic, business and operational goals and metrics are often misaligned and driven by stakeholders with conflicting viewpoints and interests
Reporting – Reporting processes are divorced from corporate strategy planning, are backward-looking and do not take into account the 80% of a company’s value that is intangible

Levers for change

Firstly, unlocking the virtuous cycle of integrated thinking and reporting starts with asking the right questions:

• Value – How do we create value now and in the future? What is most material to our success?
• Strategy – What do we need to do to align our business model to effectively deliver on our value targets?
• Execution – How do we optimize our operating model to support and execute our business model?
• Reporting – How do we measure, govern and communicate to stakeholders and investors our value creation story?

Secondly, the Fronesys experience shows that what matters even more is the way in which companies seek out the answers.

The International <IR> Framework, which Fronesys leaders played a key role in shaping, owes much of its success to the extensive consultation process undertaken to design it. Hundreds of stakeholders across sectors from every region worldwide were engaged in building the framework. As a result, <IR> enjoys growing momentum from a global coalition of supporters who share an active stake in its success.

If corporate leaders are to embed integrated thinking and reporting in their organizations, they’d be wise to put engagement at the heart of the internal process.

29 February 2016

Why investors are seeking practical wisdom

As increasing amounts of financial capital pour into companies disclosing more on their ESG performance, we asked Fronesys associate Brigitte Herren to discern the drivers behind this investment approach which has, hitherto, been an esoteric fragment of the investor marketplace, but is now decidedly mainstream.

BrigitteThe connection between corporate performance and environmental and social governance (ESG) metrics has never been stronger. Multiple academic studies have demonstrated the correlation between ESG results and overall share price performance. Worldwide Assets under Management (AuM) of Sustainable and Responsible Investments (SRI) grew from over $2trn in 2005 to over $20trn in 2014 (Sources: US SIF, Eurosif).
• In Europe AuM grew from $0.2trn in 2005 to over $14trn in 2014, which translates into a staggering annual growth of 188%.
• While yearly growth rates in the US were lower, they were still an impressive 30%; and AuM grew from $2trn in 2005 to over $6trn in 2014.

Despite a growing movement among investors, practical approaches showing how companies include ESG metrics into their decision making and reporting are still meagre. For example, nearly 700 of the 1600 firms that are part of the MSCI World Index, do not disclose key environmental data.

What can an individual investor, who sees the connection between ESG and financial performance, do about promoting disclosures?

Fronesys is partnering with UK-based Osmosis Investment Management, who focusses on using resource efficiency as key investment criteria, to explore one way of answering that question. Together, we are engaging with companies in the Osmosis portfolio to help them improve their performance through utilising environmental disclosures. The rationale is the following:

The role of disclosure in performance
The market logic behind disclosures is that transparency ultimately contributes to shareholder value. Even if performance is low, credible improvement targets will positively impact market expectations and subsequently share price development.

At the heart of our engagement with Osmosis are two convictions:

1. CEOs need to see the financial impact of their decision making. While maximising resource efficiency makes sense for companies and society alike, we believe that CEOs need to see direct financial benefits to take action to improving environmental performance. Osmosis has a convincing methodology to deliver the causal link from environmental to share price performance – helping CEOs to translate a perceived indirect and long-term topic into a short-term operational decision that will improve the company's bottom line.

2. Environmental disclosure can unlock integrated thinking. Fronesys believes that disclosures are not only a sign of good governance, but that they can be a vital enabler of a wider integrated business and value maximisation strategy. In the specific context of the Osmosis investments, water, waste and energy disclosures can be the first of multiple steps to drive optimal market perception and firm value. Key is the understanding of how particular issues - like waste, energy and water - contribute to the overall long-term value creation of the company, and subsequently scaling relevant insights to other organizational areas.

Our engagement process An integrated framework to address disclosures
Based on our understanding of the overall relevance of disclosures, we designed an engagement process that provides tangible insights and benefits, instead of simply putting investor pressure on a particular company. We enter into a dialogue with non-disclosing and environmentally poor performing companies, to understand their current position, and discuss ways forward that will benefit the firm.

The ultimate goal is not only to assure the disclosure of water, energy and waste metrics, but to help companies leverage non-financial metrics to improving performance, and to help them scale value- based learnings to their entire strategy, execution and reporting process.

The best thing is that investors can have their cake and eat it too – they can get better returns while seeing their capital drive better disclosures and better performance in the companies they invest in.

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

25 November 2014

IIRC announces Technology Initiative

Leading companies providing technology solutions are joining forces to look at how technology can underpin new trends in corporate reporting, and in particular can be applied to assist in the global adoption of Integrated Reporting <IR>.

Launched today by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), the <IR> Technology Initiative will build a deep understanding of how technology can be applied to assist adopters of <IR> on both sides of the report production and consumption value chain. Fronesys partner Jyoti Banerjee will be leading the <IR> Technology Initiative.

A select group of technology companies, who are leaders in their fields, have joined the initiative as ‘charter members’ CRedit360, Deloitte, Indra, PwC, SAP and Tagetik with a number of other interested parties set to follow. These companies are already helping their customers take advantage of new trends in reporting and management practice, and cover a range of disciplines including business software, reporting software, sustainability software, consultancy and systems integration. By coming together in the <IR> Technology Initiative, they will share experiences and lead market innovation.

The goals of the <IR> Technology Initiative are to evaluate how technology is currently used to facilitate corporate reporting and related management processes, how technology might enhance integrated thinking, how software can capture narrative elements of reporting, and how technology can facilitate the audit & assurance of an integrated report. As a result, participating companies will be able to apply their creativity and skills to produce a new generation of innovative reporting products, services and technologies to help their customers adopt <IR> and integrated thinking.

Find out more about the <IR> Technology Initiative.

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

08 September 2014

Educating Smart Cities leaders: interview with Jyoti Banerjee

MK:SMART has just published an interview with Jyoti Banerjee, partner at Fronesys, on the education programme we are building as part of the Smart Cities consortium working in Milton Keynes.

As Jyoti explains in the interview, "I’m not expecting that a city leader would be in a position to make a decision about technology choices, but they need to understand the business impacts of the choices they make. If they make one kind of data centre decision – these could be the impacts, while if we make another type of data centre decision – those could be the impacts. And they need to be in a position to understand the different kinds of impacts and be able to make a judgement between those. That’s what we’ve decided to focus on. We explore the citizen impact, the economic impact, and the social impact of smart cities decisions, and help people make good decisions based on those impacts."

To read the full interview, please see http://www.mksmart.org/blog/2014/09/08/spotlight-interviews-jyoti-banerjee/.

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/.

28 June 2013

Fronesys apprentice hired by think tank

Apprenticeships are all the rage in policy circles, but do they work in a start-up company like Fronesys? Jyoti Banerjee reflects on the first apprenticeship at Fronesys.

As a company doing work in the areas of youth unemployment and digital skills, we are conscious that so many young people with great potential are currently missing out on jobs. So when we had the chance to recruit our very own apprentice, we were keen to find out if real-world experience in an advisory service like ours would make a difference in the search for jobs.

We are pleased to report that Dan Johnson, our first apprentice at Fronesys, has just been signed up by the Institute of Business Ethics, an organisation focusing on corporate behaviour. Dan came to us with a business degree and a Master's Degree in Sustainability from Nottingham University. He had also won an award from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland (ICAS) for the best student essay on integrated reporting, a subject close to our hearts.

So we figured he knew a thing or two.

But nobody would give Dan a job. His work experience in a local church and in a ski resort had been richly rewarding but had not given him any relevant job experience when it came to the kind of work he was seeking.

As a start-up ourselves, we knew that Dan would get exposed at a deep level on our projects. In his first two months, Dan worked on a digital skills project for a major telco, the economic case for a proposed Smart Cities implementation, and did research into corporate behaviour. Something must have clicked at his next job interview because he came back with a job offer.

Dan, we are sorry to see you go, but pleased that you have the opportunity to get an excellent job. We like to think that your time with Fronesys helped make the difference.

Need to start thinking about a new apprentice...