Business News Round-up

Ronald McDonald House Charities UK (RMHC UK) has launched the Zero2Hero25 virtual challenge to encourage people to raise vital income during the Covid-19 crisis. All funds raised will help to provide free ‘home away from home’ accommodation for families with children in hospital. RMHC UK are inviting

people to spend 25 minutes a day on a chosen activity to fundraise £25 to provide one night of accommodation for families with a child in hospital. Options include reading,

meditation, on-line gym classes and gardening. Ronald McDonald House

Birmingham is just one of the 11 houses across the UK encouraging supporters to take part in this challenge. The House enables seriously ill children undergoing treatment in Birmingham Children’s Hospital to have their families close by for comfort and support.

For further information about Zero2Hero25 and to sign up, visit

Barclays has committed to helping its customers, clients, colleagues, and the wider community deal with the current unprecedented medical and economic crisis caused by Covid-19, and in preparing for recovery in its aftermath. Among other measures, the

bank has made available free everyday banking and overdrafts to 650,000 small businesses, waived overdraft and other fees for customers, and is helping to implement the UK Government’s support schemes.

More than £500,000 has been made available for students who have been hit by financial difficulties as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Birmingham City

University’s Covid-19 Hardship Fund will aid students who have fallen on hard times with emergency grants of £200. The funding package will

provide support for up to 2,500 students who are unable to purchase essential food or other key items due to losing their regular part-time employment, parental or other financial support.


University pioneers Covid-19 digital safety certificate

Birmingham City University (BCU) is developing the world’s first digital safety certificate to protect suppliers and consumers from risks associated with Covid-19. The Coronavirus Clearance Certificate (CCC), based on

blockchain technology, has been developed by the university’s Birmingham City Business School. Blockchain technology is an online ledger which is used with cryptocurrencies. CCC will enable companies to ensure risk related to

the virus is managed within their supply chain. It will be initially trialed in the Midlands. The

certificates will be issued by The Transnational Transparent Procurement (TTP) Foundation. Olinga Taeed, Visiting Professor of Blockchain at BCU, said: "Consumers will demand in future that

suppliers do everything in their power to avoid risk from Covid-19. People want to use goods and services, safe in the knowledge that there is no risk. “For example, if you buy a hand sanitiser you want

to be sure it can do what it says on the label. The CCC is a game-changer because it uses reliable blockchain technology to transparently track the life cycle of products, thereby building assurance." Professor Nassim Belbaly, director of BCU’s Business

School said: “For supply chains, Covid-19 represents a crisis because we cannot any longer automatically trust our goods or suppliers. However, as CCC is independently verified it can be issued to organisations, products, and even people that take appropriate steps to manage the risk from Covid-19.”

Firms answer call-to-arms for PPE

A call-to-arms for the region’s businesses to step up and produce or donate protective clothing for those on the coronavirus frontline has been met with an overwhelming response. Over 367 companies immediately

responded to the call for medical grade Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) when it went out from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC). And it emerged that 13 firms, including plastics and aerospace companies who had never made PPE gear before, were approved as having the potential to start manufacturing the potentially life- saving kit. A further 57 existing suppliers of

PPE who came forward were put in contact with the region’s local councils, many of which have been struggling to secure enough

and the willingness of individuals and businesses to step up and join the fight against Covid-19.” The WMCA joined forces with

Much needed: PPE equipment for frontline workers. Picture: Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

equipment for frontline staff such as care home workers and refuse collectors. Mayor of the West Midlands

Andy Street said: “The response from businesses both small and large has been incredible. “It is another example of how our region is pulling together in this crisis

local councils and business groups, including GBCC to issue the rallying call for companies who can help tackle the shortage of items such as medical grade masks, gloves, goggles, aprons or other PPE. Staff at the WMCA and the Chamber have been working hard to assess the hundreds of offers and carry out validation checks. Paul Faulkner, chief executive of

the GBCC, said: “There has been a tremendous response to the call-to- arms for PPE. There are a lot of firms and individuals across the region who are working hard to make a real difference and their efforts will ultimately help save lives.” Companies can register their

interest by emailing with their company details.

Axonex gets hospital up and running

IT services provider Axonex has helped to transform the NEC into the NHS Nightingale Hospital. NHS Nightingale Birmingham provides an additional facility for patients with Covid-19, helping to ensure there is enough critical care capacity within the system. The facility provides 500 beds, with the capacity to scale up to 4,000 beds. Axonex, based in Cheltenham and NEC suppliers,

worked alongside the NEC, University Hospital Birmingham and the Ministry of Defence to implement medical-grade IT infrastructure to support the hospital. The team installed more than 150 network

‘switches’ connected to new structured cabling in just seven days. The Axonex team will provide on-

going support to the NEC and Nightingale Hospital. Andy Peters-Smith, managing director at Axonex,

said: “In difficult times, it’s been fantastic to see the teams at Axonex and The NEC dedicate themselves to this project. I am immensely proud of our team for their support and dedication, especially given the risks around social distancing during these worrying times. “Yet we know our role is a small piece of the

puzzle compared to all the medical staff on the frontline and many others working around the clock to complete a project that would normally take months, even years. These organisations and individuals have come together to work towards the collective goal.”

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