Where’s my new car, it’s already three months late

So to set the scene, when you ordered your new shiny car you knew you may have to wait a while but for some reason its taking much longer then you first anticipated. This isn’t the fault of BMW or Mercedes or whatever company you’ve chosen for your mid-range saloon, coupe or 4×4. The issue runs much deeper. All those fancy “gadgets and gizmos” as my parents might say need microchips and semiconductors to work, and there lies the issue. A shortage of semiconductor chips, the brains of our electronics, has plagued economies for over a year and currently there is no end in sight.

Just how bad can a shortage of computer chips possibly be?

Pendragon a leading UK auto retailer recently stated in a trading update that “vehicle order waiting times are already being extended” and this sentiment has been echoed by car dealerships, Evans Halshaw and Stratstone, who warned that the supply of cars was likely to be restricted during the second half of 2021.

As demand for chips continues to exceed supply, the auto industry is forecast to be the biggest loser in 2021, with up to £14bn wiped off global carmakers’ operating profits this year, according to Goldman Sachs estimates. Semiconductor manufacturers temporarily shut down their operations as the coronavirus first took hold in early 2020, and their customers cut or cancelled orders, anticipating weaker consumer demand.

However, the opposite happened, and shoppers rushed to buy computers and other electronic devices to keep themselves entertained during successive lockdowns. Fear of Covid-19 has also fuelled car sales, as people avoided public transport.

Well restrictions have ended now so why have the factories not returned to normal output?

Even though production has been returning to normal, shortages persist, which continues to influence manufacturing. Analysts are warning that the global economy has entered a peak shortage for chips, with tightness in supply expected to ease slightly in the third and fourth quarters of the year. However, global stock of semiconductors is not forecast to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2022 which will leave car manufacturers struggling to sustain the pent-up demand.

How to tackle food waste on your phone

Last month, I wrote a blog post on how an edible insect market could be a solution to handling food waste. But for those of us who may not want to go to the extreme of consuming insects, there might be a more simple solution, and it’s right there on your phone!

A third of all global food produced is wasted, with specifically 6.7 million tonnes of food wasted per year in the UK. The average UK family throwing out £730 of surplus items a year  While some companies are creating edible insects or focusing on plant-based food to curb this issue, some tech companies are creating apps.

Food waste apps can save you money and save the environment

The last few years have seen a demand to tackle food waste through technology. It is now estimated that 3.4 million people around the world are using an app designed to encourage people to give away rather than throw away surplus food, and the number of sign ups are growing.

These food apps are ingenious. They rescue food from suppliers (cafes, restaurant, etc.) that were going to be thrown away, and connect them to hungry people for a discount. This link allows consumers to eat cheaply while local businesses enjoy extra customers and avoid throwing away left over food-a win-win for everyone!

Some examples of these apps are Too Good To Go. The nationwide app has customers pay for a ‘magic box’  within an allocated time frame, that collects leftover food from partnering restaurants. Last July, Too Good To Go saved two million meals in the UK , preventing 5 million kg of CO2e emissions, the equivalent to that emitted by 984 flights around the world .

Another one is Karma. The London-based app connects customers to unsold meals from local restaurants and cafés. Unlike Food To Go, it tells you exactly what is available at each place, allowing you to pay for it beforehand and pick it up within a certain window. Founded in Stockholm in 2016, Karma now helps serve one million users in Britain, France and Sweden. In the UK alone, it offers food from 2,000 outlets.

No Waste and Olio are apps that focus less restaurants and more on individuals. No Waste allows you to check what food you have left in the house and sell it to those who need it at very cheap cost. Olio goes even beyond that and allows you to connect with neighbours and local businesses to share surplus food and other unwanted household items such as toiletries, cleaning products, clothes and furniture. it’s available in 31 different countries.

A space for ESG

Why are these apps so relevant? One, because they’re good for the environment. You can tackle food waste and provide it to those who really need it. Another is because of the topic that Polestar has been talking about for a while now: ESG.

A big trend right now that I have seen in many sectors is a push in ESG policies. Many investors, especially private equity firms, are looking for companies who integrate ESG policies into their business model. If you want to read more into what ESG is, Oliver Hoade wrote a detailed blog post on it.

ESG can be seen in consulting, technology, and business services industries as well. It’s no surprise that the food industry is also hopping on this trend. Having a core business model revolve around ESG makes the company even more valuable to PE firms. And for consumers, it helps them feel good that they can take on a service that also makes the world a better place.

Final Thoughts

These food waste apps are a great way for consumers to save money on food and products, while also making the world a better place. Their popularity is well deserved. And with ESG in the big picture, we’re going to see private equity firms also buy into the popularity. 

What are you doing to push for an ESG initiative?

The UK’s first gigafactories

This month, the UK’s first Gigafactory projects were unveiled to the public. Britishvolt’s factory in Northumberland will create around 300,000 EV (electric vehicle) battery packs per year – as well as 3,000 jobs – and Nissan’s £1bn factory in Sunderland, which will create a further 1,600 jobs.

The two new projects will bolster the UK’s manufacturing industry, particularly in the North East region where both will be located. Speaking on the announcement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“Building on over 30 years of history in the area, this is a pivotal moment in our electric vehicle revolution and securing its future for decades to come.

“Commitments like these exemplify our ability to create hundreds of green jobs and boost British industry, whilst also allowing people to travel in an affordable and sustainable way so we can eliminate our contributions to climate change.”

Sticking to the manifesto

Seemingly sticking to his manifesto’s commitments, Johnson had promised to accelerate growth in the EV sector. Among these pledges, £500m of development funds was promised with the aim of making the UK a more interesting opportunity to international investors.

Seemingly, the approach has worked, as Nissan will create its new-generation all-electric car exclusively in Sunderland. Coupled with investment from Envision AESC – the battery arm of global green tech group, Envision Group – a 9GWh plant will be constructed in a ‘transformational’ project for the region.

The factory will run entirely off renewable energy and will be used to develop next-generation battery technologies, with a new model in the pipeline that boasts 30% more energy density.

Around 4,600 high-skilled jobs will be created by both of the proposed Gigafactory projects, and in areas of the UK where employment is really needed. The unemployment rate in Northumberland sits at around 5.4%, and in Sunderland around 6%, both notably higher than the 4.5% national average.

An electric opportunity for the UK

The trend away from industrialisation has been consistent in most mature western nations, and the UK is certainly no exception. In 1948, manufacturing made up about 48% of the country’s economy, falling to 25% in 1970, and then 13% in 2013, replaced largely by the services industry.

This new breed of high-tech manufacturing could represent a real opportunity for the UK to revitalise its industry. If the government continues to invest wisely, the next generation of manufacturing could come to define a new green era for the UK.

The demand for electric vehicles and their constituent parts is likely only to rise in the coming years and decades and will only be accelerated further by the gradual rollout of eco-conscious legislation. Our own government has pledged £1.3bn to the rollout of charge points, as well as £582m in grants for those buying low/zero-emissions vehicles.

Closing thoughts

There is an EV-manufacturing-shaped hole in the UK’s economy and, for now at least, it seems our government is doing a decent job of plugging it. In the years to come, it will be interesting to see how the UK positions itself in the burgeoning EV market and what impact this might have on our economy and job market. Judging from the present moment, however, the future of manufacturing in the UK looks very bright indeed.

Polestar has worked with many firms in the manufacturing and green industry space who are either seeking fund raising or investment to accelerate growth. In fact, last month we wrote a valuations report specifically focusing on the manufacturing industry – click here to download and read for yourself.

Finally, if you’d like to learn more, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone to us – we’re always happy to help.

How can AI be used in education?

Artificial intelligence (“AI”) and the Education industry aren’t a particularly likely pair. Although most people encounter some form of AI on a daily basis – social media, for example, is deeply rooted in user-based algorithmic curation – they tend to bump into it in more technology focused environments.

Education, for the most part, had not seen the same investment in tech that other industries have. All this has changed since the start of the pandemic, however, when educational establishments were forced to move online or risk losing their ability to teach entirely.

We have seen an exponential rise in online learning across the globe. From the comfort of their own homes, students can now attend lessons, talk with their tutors, and sit exams.

This, of course, has led to many educational establishments embellishing their tech stacks with new solutions to meet the changing needs of post-pandemic world. So how does AI fit into all of this?

How does AI fit into the education sector?

The Promise

AI really has two core appeals: its ability to handle menial tasks and free up the capacity of human workers, and the way in which is can process and learn from large sets of data.

Since adopting online learning models, education workers have had access to more of their students’ data than ever before, be it in the form of page views, session durations, or what content is actually viewed. This means that students’ engagement can be quantitatively measured and processed in real time.

Enter: AI. Software solutions that help teachers interpret and understand all these newfound data have, to no-one’s surprise, skyrocketed in popularity over the last year. Some of the most popular AI systems in education at the moment are those that can predict learning patterns based on past students’ data, allowing for teachers to focus on the tagged gaps in their class’ knowledge.

In theory, AI systems like these should make teaching fairer, more efficient, and more effective. Teaching staff will be able to identify potential challenge areas well in advance and therefore adapt their strategy.

The Problem

In an ideal world this sounds, well, ideal. Omnibenevolent computer systems working in harmony with human teaching staff to attain the best possible outcome for students. In reality, of course, the problem becomes a lot more complex.

Currently, many of these algorithms work by analysing data from past students’ performance, extrapolating averages, then calculating likely grades based on these averages.  

This, for some, is where the practice of AI-assisted grading becomes ethically murky. Take last year for instance – a similar system was used to grade GCSEs and A levels in the UK, due to a lack of markable exams owing to Covid restrictions. Many students were left feeling cheated by a system that felt devoid of human understanding.

Students protest grades given by the government's algorithm-based marking solution

Although some might say the pure mathematics of these systems is exactly what makes them inherently fair, others argue that the nuance of a human being’s understanding is a necessary caveat when deciding life-mapping qualifications like academic results.  

The Compromise 

It is fair to say that AI is still somewhat in its infancy and – much like how you wouldn’t trust a toddler to run a country (unless, of course, you come from the UK or US) – you shouldn’t fully rely on an undeveloped technology to grade the next generation of children’s schoolwork.

Surely you wouldn't trust a toddler to run a country?

As it currently stands, AI offers an ever-growing suite of tools to those working in the education space. From freeing up time spend on menial tasks, to suggesting lessons based on students’ achievement, the uses for the technology will only continue to proliferate in the years to come.

For now, it seems there is a balance to be struck between exploiting the cold heart of AI for all its worth, while continuing to supplement its output with the warm soppiness of human emotions.  

Until we reach the point of genuine artificial intelligence – a system that could pass the Turing Test and shows abstract and original thinking – AI will remain a tool to help us understand trends and automate processes.

If you work within the education space, consider subscribing to our newsletter for the latest industry news and insights. Polestar has experience working across a range of transactions in the education sector – if you’re looking to get transaction ready, why not give us a call?

Manufacturing is still our beating heart

We were having a chat over an unlocked-down lunch earlier this week about which sectors we see as good for corporate finance work in the next few years.  Doubtlessly, the CF story of 2020 and 2021 has been software and tech services.  Prices being paid have been mind boggling in some cases.

However, as the economy continues to warm up, manufacturing will once again represent a great investment opportunity for UK PLC, private equity and overseas investors.  This great article shows just how important manufacturing still is to the UK economy.

The article says: The ONS attributes the sustained growth to a better quality; more skilled workforce; a shift in production from low to high productivity goods; improvements in automation and technology; increased investment in R&D, and a more integrated global economy. One of the most critical UK manufacturing statistics is the total value of UK manufacturers’ product sales, which was £396.6 billion in 2019, a fall of 1.2% compared with £401.4 billion in 2018.

UK Manufacturing Statistics according to Make UK (formerly EEF), UK manufacturing currently:

Although the contribution of manufacturing to GDP has declined on paper, many of the services provided to manufacturers which would have once been considered part of manufacturing – such as catering; cleaning; building services; security; logistics and so on – are now allocated into different areas of the economy.

However, those contributions are directly reliant on manufacturing for continued business and could actually be considered as a part of manufacturing’s GDP input. As such, many are calling for the true value of manufacturing to be recognised, a move which would see the widely cited figure of 10% of GVA more than doubling to 23% and would greatly impact the overall UK manufacturing statistics.

Just think, we have world-leading businesses in:

What a list!! – No wonder we at Polestar remain excited about working with manufacturing companies.

Are ghost kitchens here to stay?

As we have come out of lockdown this month, it’s only fair to start reminiscing about what we’ve gone through in lockdown For me specifically, it was a lot of self-reflection, self-care, and many takeout meals. Not only were takeout meals were a part of my self-care, but also a way to help out local businesses in the area.

It’s pretty obvious that lockdown raised the demand for food delivery apps. We saw huge IPO’s last year for Deliveroo and DoorDash. Alongside the increased demand for food delivery apps came the demand for ghost kitchens.

But for someone who really didn’t think about where my food was coming from and focused more on the when (my hanger would get the best of me), I was surprised to hear about the innovations from the restaurant industry when they were badly hit by lockdowns. Ghost kitchens became an adaptable way for many restaurants-new and old-to survive during last year.

What are ghost kitchens?

Ghost kitchens are food preparation operations with no waiters, no dining room and no physical customers. They remove the concepts of dining areas and fancy decor, and just focus on the main concept of making the food. It’s similar to a co-op but for restaurants-many restaurants can operate out of the same ghost kitchen, either working from the same facility or breaking the space into separate spots. Even DoorDash got onto the hype, it  launched a shared ghost kitchen with four restaurants using the same space. 

Without huge operating costs, like staff and and square footage, these restaurants have the potential to make a lot of money without draining their revenue on inconvenient things like serving staff and covers. The initial investment to operate in a ghost kitchen is much smaller than opening a full dine-in restaurant, which could allow more restaurants to open up.

While invisible to the naked eye, ghost kitchens make their presence known on food delivery apps. And it just makes sense that the demand for delivery apps and ghost kitchens were parallel. When no one in the U.S or the U.K was able to dine out in restaurants, why even bother having a dining area at all? 

Ghost kitchens can provide flexibility for customers by allowing them to customise their orders and what time they want their food to arrive. Customers can also try restaurants that wouldn’t be in their area otherwise or that might usually be out of budget. And for restaurants, it gave them to opportunity to get creative and focus on the quality of the food rather than the service to customers.

We are out of lockdown-now what?

The demand for ghost kitchens was there during lockdowns. But now that we can potentially see lockdown ending, the excitement for eating out again is there for many people (including me).

So the question really remains-is the demand for ghost kitchens still there once lockdown is over?  We don not really know. Some people seem to think so.

Delivery service was growing in the years prior to the pandemic anyway. In 2019, many restaurants were already exploring and transitioning into this space. Ghost kitchens can help fill this demand gap.

Consumer sentiment has also changed. A Restaurant Business survey found that 15% of customers said they would not resume regular behaviour until COVID-19 is completely contained, and with new variants spreading, who knows when that will be.

But people seem to think that the reason why ghost kitchen will stay will not really be on the consumer end, but more on the restaurants. These collaborative spaces break the barriers to entry, make for a smarter business, and allow restaurants to rethink their human capital management.

While some restaurants will open their doors to customers after lockdown, some may decide not to, and just operate a different way.

Final Thoughts

But this ties in to the bigger question for a lot of other industries-will e-commerce be affected now that shopping centres are open? And will food delivery apps also take a hit? Whether yes or no, Polestar will be tracking these consumer and business changes in our quarterly valuations. 

Be sure to check those out!

How can employers can promote the value of their online benefits schemes?

I regularly hear from owner managers and senior management that they have tried benefit platform solutions for their employees (some well known brands) but they lack the engagement they originally thought it might have. I recall one client being irritated at how it had let them down. 

Part of the lack of engagement is down to two-way communication and whether your benefit solutions are fit for purpose (was it desired in the first instance?). There are customisable solutions out there that do align to a company’s values and do drive higher engagement.

Some solutions may be sold as a ‘one-stop-shop’ solutions but can miss the mark with employees unaware of the difference between widely available high street discounts, e-voucher websites/apps and those provided by an employer solution (am I getting a better deal or the same?). 

Better communication to highlight specific benefits can lead to higher take up. For example, one of the employee benefit business we know provide a Sainsburys discount card which is linked to an employees benefit package. A clear illustration of the accumulated savings using modellers/calculators over time can help drive behaviours and, once in place, is relatively sticky. The savings tool solution can then be used in November to December in time for Christmas Presents.

As the article suggests, by clearly signposting the benefits to an employee – visually, via banners or other means such as competitions – can help. For example, a Lotto scheme can help offer something tangible to staff, drives engagement and also be linked with the discount benefits (points or cash spend). Which can also mean they might return to the portal in the future.

Another strategy to drive higher levels of engagement is to link the messaging of the discount scheme to the broader business strategy such as Corporate Social Responsibility (‘CSR’). For example, a flexible benefit scheme, such as cycle to work, can support physical and mental wellbeing and is a natural link to sustainability. 

Rather than a spray and pray benefits strategy, a holistic communications strategy can work well. If your organisation would like access to flexible benefit scheme solution providers (including cycle to work), we would be happy to point you in the right direction. As suggested in a previous Wellbeing post, a bike-to-work scheme and associated data can help for publicising a company’s carbon footprint and adherence to an Environmental Social Governance policy (‘ESG’) .

In order to understand what your employees would like, you can gauge this very quickly on a frequent basis by employee surveys/pulse surveys, which give leadership teams instant feedback on suggestions or initiatives. That drives the focus onto which areas they should tailor their benefits packages.

One voluntary benefits solution provider said to me that they are initially asked by leadership for one thing, they approach the first meeting with an open mind, listen to what management have to say and, as the dialogue and relationship progresses, it’s highly likely the leadership teams need something more involved than originally thought.

Talk to us if you would like any support in this regard. 

In the words of a well known cycle software provider – Ride On!

Stadiums of the future: how Euro 2020 shows us the road map of entertainment

It’s crazy to think big crowds will ever be a normal concept of life again in a post-covid world. Seeing stadiums somewhat full during Euro 2020 is one small step that maybe one day large events will return. 

It’s a new experience seeing football fans’ excitement in England for Euro 2020, with hearing chants on the train of “football’s coming home” when traveling to London, and pubs going crazy when England wins a match. It remind me a lot of American football and the Superbowl.

But whether in America, the UK, or any other part of the world, sports in general has a way of uniting so many people. But the major part of sports is the fans and, without them, a lot of teams have been struggling. According to Deloitte, the absence of fans could mean that UK Premier League football clubs could experience revenue losses of up to £500m collectively, with the lower leagues also expected to be hit hard. 

But nonetheless, Euro 2020 is finally here with 24 teams competing in 51 matches across 11 host cities. The pandemic has changed the way fans will experience this tournament, and it may be a sign for how we’ll see major sporting and entertainment events in the future. 

Like most other industries, sporting and entertainment events will not be the same in a post-covid world. We’re going to see a big push on adopting covid measures long-term as consumers will be health focused, and new technology is making this possible. There has never been a better time for owners and clubs to consider the opportunities of technology to increase their value over time

As we transition into a tech based entertainment industry, stadiums will require upfront investment. This investment will range from infrastructure, networking, physical hardware, and operational software. 

There will be hesitation in investing large sums of money into stadiums right now due to lack of attendance, but technology will add value in both the short and medium-long term for the entertainment industry.

So in honor of Euro 2020, here are some of the ways we may see stadiums change:

Health and safety

One big category of technology will be focused around health and safety. The types of technology we’re seeing during Euro 2020 are digital tickets, in-app communication, monitoring crowd density, and in-seat ordering.

Digital ticketing allows for tickets to be transferred between fans. In the long-term, linking these tickets to digital passports and using blockchain technology will help stadium operators control the secondary ticket market. This could change the way fans resell their tickets in the future. 

Euro 2020 has developed an app that sends notifications to fans with the latest travel advice and government restrictions for each game. This may soon become a regular practice with large games, concerts, and other events. Regular communication before large events will be essential to keep consumers informed about changing safety measures.

Crowd monitoring is essential during COVID times, but may also become a standard practice in the future. This helps to avoid large groups of fans gathering at food counters, bars, toilets and merchandise stands. For example, digital signage and wayfinding could be installed to provide real-time information when moving through public areas around stadiums.

Cashless stadiums will also help reduce times to purchase food and merchandise. We can already see this shift starting in the UK, with Tottenham Hotspur Stadium which became the first fully cashless venue in the Premier League when it opened. In-seat ordering via apps is another measure to curb large crowd, and is frequently used in US stadiums.

While many of the technology mentioned will help curb covid measures this year, using this technology as a standard practice will create operational efficiency in large events.

In-game fan experience

Another category of technology is in-game fan experience. Along with in-app seating, this technology will feature augmented reality (AR), visual billboards, and LED screens.

AR creates a more personalised and immersive game experience for fans, while monetising new opportunities for stadiums. For an example, the AT&T Stadium in Dallas allows fans to stream holograms of Dallas Cowboys players, take selfies with their idols, access live stats and scoreboards and even play a game that has Cowboys players facing off against robots at half-time.

Visual billboards and LED screens create another way fans can engage in a stadium and provide extra advertising.The large displays show a wide range of content, such as interactive fan boards, instant replays, statistics, graphics and animations, sponsor messages, and has a ‘filter fan cam’ that adds a ‘filter’ to the faces of spectators enjoying the game day experience. 

Final Thoughts

These are a few example of a technology can change the way stadiums operate. Not only will technology make large events more convenient for fans, but they can also create new ways stadiums can create commercial advantages over time.

This is a great opportunity for technology companies to create the AI and software needed for stadiums to get back at being full capacity, while following the needs of the fans. New apps and tracking systems will be in demand from stadiums.

For stadiums, switching business plans digital should be a focus moving forward. It is important to know when to invest in your business with better technology or find others who will. Polestar has worked with many firms who are either seeking to provide these services or use them as they move into the next digital stage, both through fund raising for investment and making introductions. We would love to hear your plans or provide the right introductions needed for your business. As always, please reach out!

Boom shake shake the room… Tick tick tick

Workforce engagement is at the forefront of senior management’s minds, in particular staff wellbeing.

Covid has made many of us re-evaluate our work:life balance but importantly the environment we want to create for ourselves in our place of work. In the same way a high-performing sports team reviews every aspect of their game (Clive Woodward in the lead up to RWC2003), perhaps all organisations should seek feedback from the workforce on what would help generate the optimum working environment. Nb. We are speaking with a number of companies who provide such instaneous feedback tools for leadership teams.

I’m sure some wellbeing suggestions might not make the cut, however, one heart- warming article that brought a smile was the question of whether music should be considered in the workplace. 

In some offices, there can be deathly periods of silence when you can hear a pin drop. This could be for genuine reasons, a complex piece of work that requires a high degree of concentration. However there are occasions that some in the office environment might consider there being an appropriate occasion (as I typed this, there is some upbeat 80’s classics playing that are makes for an entertaining Monday afternoon).

This article is a well-balanced read on the pros and cons on the use of music in the work place.

Cons include the impact on productivity, particularly cognitively demanding tasks. The distraction could lead to frustration amongst the team as well as any inevitable debates about the differing tastes in music. 

The pros include increasing positive mood and relaxation. One’s mood is at the centre of well-being at work and our ability to feel comfortable, confident and calm. A positive atmosphere in the workplace (both office and the home), can improve dopamine levels and individual mood. 

A friend’s business plays background music and he is a leading advocate of the benefits to their ambience. He genuinely wants his employees to enjoy their place of work (it also includes a large TV, large fridge with complimentary beverages, sweet jars) and having been to visit for hot desk purposes, I can genuinely see the appeal to keeping younger members of staff engaged. The enthusiasm to create the culture starts at the top.

Music could be considered a ‘perk at work‘ in order to increase wellbeing at work and linked to your reward and recognition solutions (Nb. instant recognition is proven to support higher engagement).

Some tips if you are thinking of considering playing music in the workplace;

Volume – naturally you wont want customers or the neighbours thinking your workplace is a nightclub or you’re in a fun pub!

Genre – one colleague might like classical, others may like rock, pop and indie. Perhaps choose a playlist and/or a radio station you can all agree on.

Timing – perhaps quiet time, colleagues out of the office or end of the day wind down. 

Device – yes there will be those who have a good ear for sound and a device (not a phone) that can provide a clear Bach like sound may help. 

No one size will fit all organisations but just somethings to consider if you’re reviewing your workplace environment and how to encourage staff, who lets not forget, may have been through a hellish 12-17 months working from home.

Boom Boom Boom, let me hear you say WheYOooool! (…..I think it’s spelt like that).  

Increasing accessibility to 3D Printing

Like many of you I have seen the odd piece in the press and rarely seen a 3D printing machine at some of the manufacturing clients we know well, so it’s interesting and refreshing to hear that this is about to change with the reducing cost of materials and machines. This has led to 3D printing becoming more accessible across various sectors.

The benefits of 3D printing offer a variety of benefits over traditional processes including:

 – Sturdy & lightweight parts – particularly plastic (majority of 3D printing) and its application in aerospace and automotive.

Low Cost – when it comes to small production runs, protoype machining using CNC/milling techniques can be expensive and requires more resource than 3D Printing. 

Flexible Design – a key selling point of 3D printing is the ability to produce complex designs that aren’t possible using traditional methods.

Print on Demand – no more stocking up on inventory due to traditional methods. 3D printing can mean printing what’s required, when required which naturally saves on cost of materials and those associated with storage.

Fast speed – rapid prototypes can mean rapid development, which is ideal for sectors and businesses who want to bring to market a new product quickly. 

The industrial applications for 3D printing to date include;

Drone – a number of complex plastic components found in drones are 3D printed.

Aerospace and Defense – typically parts used in aircraft which ensures weight reduction and decreases fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Robot – components such as sensor mounts and grippers are expensive to fabricate. 3D printing can produce a large variety for end-of-arm tooling at low cost.

Automotive – typically application features in racing and motosports, due to design flexibility, customisation and small production runs. 

Medical & Dental – 3D printing is now heavily used in the medical & dental industry, from bio-printing to prosthetics and medical devices. The greater customisation it affords can enable more patient-specific solutions such as dental, implants, enhanced medical devices, and personalised healthcare.

It seems to be that 3D printing suits those industries which require the manufacture of low volume, high-end products at a cheaper cost in a fast and efficient manner. In line with Environmental Social Governance (ESG) requirements, it can also help with reducing wastage, storage requirements and is therefore very sustainable.

This can only be a good thing for those businesses where its application is appropriate.

Polestar June 2021 Pilot

At a friend’s wedding 20 years ago we were inside Falmouth castle whilst a football match took place between the age-old allies of England and Germany.  Thankfully, the best man let us know that it was Germany 1 England 5 in Munich. About the same time, a young upstart, Roger Federer beat the Wimbledon maestro Pete Sampras.

I can’t say it feels like 20 years ago but, given Matt Hancock was only 22 at the time and was just finishing up uni with his friend Gina, maybe it does.  20 years later and England beat Germany, Federer still wins and Matt is spending more time with Gina – plus ça change! What has changed is the ever-increasing focus on ESG – Ignore this at your financial peril.

It has been great to enjoy the summer with a semblance of normality -sport, friends round for a BBQ and, for my family, a holiday in the Lake District. Polestar even managed to move office yesterday!  Thankfully the majority of economy is now defrosting and we are seeing some sectors burning red hot, which in turn is leading to a lot of corporate finance activity.

Even manufacturing has finally started the climb out of the doldrums, and is now set to recover a significant amount of that loss in 2021 and will outpace the growth of the economy overall. Make UK forecasts suggest that manufacturing output levels will return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022.  Good news for all of us, whatever sector you are in.

With this bright future it is no wonder valuations are holding up. The latest in our series of  valuation spotlight reports this month focuses on the Manufacturing and Industrial sector – click here to download.

Food and Leisure is of course feeling like Cinderella at the moment.  All around we can see that hospitality, travel and venues are still awaiting the end of the lockdown.  In the meantime business is doing the best it can with many relying on government schemes as the sit in suspended animation. Ironically, those that can trade are suffering with post-Brexit & Covid staffing and supply issues.

So here is to the summer continuing to improve and let us be hopeful that the link between Covid cases and deaths really is broken. In the meantime read here about the growth in eating insects and the growing digital divide. We also have a few other blogs you may find interesting below across the various sectors.

Kind regards, 


ESG and your business

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations are becoming increasingly important factors in company valuations and their investment potential for all investors; it is no longer the preserve of “socially responsible” investment. Investment firms are looking to make their portfolio more sustainable and will will judge future investments (in part) on the data provided by a company’s ESG reporting tools.

Socially conscious investing looks like it is here to stay – data from Morgan Stanley Bank suggests that nearly 90% of millennial investors choose investments based upon their alignment with their held values. 

Below some of the key findings from The World Green Building Council’s recently penned report outlining what needs to be done to create a more ESG-conscious world. We will be going into the sections in more detail over the coming months, but for now we’ve drawn two broad categories that the report covers:

Protect and improve health

This year the public’s health has been brought into focus perhaps sharper than ever before. But health is a multifaceted issue with many independent variables, so how can we ensure a healthy working and living environment?

Air quality and water quality must be taken into account when designing and reviewing buildings – higher levels of CO2 have been proven to decrease productivity for example. Many companies now offer solutions for the monitoring and processing of this data and the sector is rich in interest from investors.

Measures to combat infectious disease and mental health support will also be key criteria for ESG-conscious companies in the coming years – see our blog on how employee wellbeing has been proven to boost performance.

Mindfully designed buildings

A few of the concepts here are fairly well-known: good temperature, lighting, and acoustics should be taken into consideration when designing or fitting a space. Further to this, designs should be inclusive wherever possible, while also remaining ergonomic for everyday use.

This mindfulness applies to nature as well. Wherever possible a building’s impact on nature should be minimised as much as possible; biodiversity and pollutants should be taken into account in the construction and running of buildings, and areas of nature should be made accessible for the wellbeing of the users of the space.

The study highlights the importance of considering the buildings impact on everyone throughout its lifecycle, from construction worker to office manager. The building and company’s social impact should also be reviewed – how could the presence of the business add social value to the space it inhabits?

Closing Thoughts

The issues ESG compliance seeks to resolve – climate change, social inequality, poor design – aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and neither is the interest in those business that challenge themselves to meet these rising challenges.

Over the coming month, we’ll be looking at each of the six elements of The World Green Building Council’s health and wellbeing framework and how they relate to your business. Starting with health, comfort and harmony with nature, and then covering healthy behaviours, social value and taking climate action. 

ESG covers all aspects of business, so we hope there will be something in there for everyone. And, of course, if you want to get in touch about anything ESG related, don’t hesitate to do so. We’ve seen a lot of movement in the space recently so don’t hold off!