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News in brief

Call to young entrepreneurs

Shell LiveWIRE, the scheme that supports, advises and rewards young entrepreneurs, is calling on enterprising young people to compete to be Young Entrepreneur of the Year. The award is worth a total of £11,000 and is open to entrepreneurs aged between 16 and 30.

The competition has been running since 1982, but this year has been revamped to require entrants to apply for the monthly Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas awards first. Under this scheme, up to five entrepreneurs each month receive £1,000 to help them establish their ideas.

In addition to the cash prize, which this year will be £10,000 for the overall prize plus the £1,000 for the monthly ideas award, the winners have the opportunity of gaining national recognition and a resulting boost to the business. Last year's winner, Jessica Grosvenor, has seen her Freelance Training and Consultancy business take on 15 extra staff and open two offices since she received the award five months ago.

For more information, visit www.shell-livewire.org

More prizes?

The government is considering introducing prizes in order to stimulate innovation and enterprise. David Willetts, minister for universities and science, told the Prize Summit in London on 8 April that prizes were widely used as drivers of innovation in the past.

Examining why this practice had become less common might provide insights about the economics of innovation and of prizes. Adding that the use of prizes was being considered by ministers as part of the development of an innovation strategy, he said that the government planned to publish later this year a new innovation strategy setting out how it saw its role in innovation.

Heads in the Cloud

More than a third of senior decision makers in small UK businesses are taking advantage of the Cloud. They are using internet-based applications other than email or online phone services to help run their enterprises, according to research published earlier this month.

The YouGov survey for Intuit, which provides management solutions for small businesses and their advisers, also predicts a pronounced shift to online for core business applications, such as online document, customer and financial management.

Nearly 10 per cent of small businesses said that they would like to use online services for all of their main business applications.

The survey coincides with the launch of Intuit's QuickBooks Online, which claims to offer easy online money management software for small businesses.

More social than they first thought

Only 12 per cent of information technology decision makers in Europe believe they use social media to inform their decisions, according to a study by NetMediaEurope, which is the publisher of eWEEK Europe UK, the online publication aimed at everyone interested in the impact that technology will have on the future of their business.

However, closer questioning reveals that more than three times as many respondents claimed to react to social media discussions at least once a week. Moreover, 23 per cent are heavy users of social media, employing it in ways that support their IT decisions.

The research looked at how IT buyers across Europe used Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn when selecting office and other technical equipment. Dominique Busso, chief executive of NetMediaEurope, explained: "It is possible that the very transparency and ease of use of social media has masked the extent to which people use these sites. Respondents tended to talk about using advice from experts and other individuals, without focusing on the fact that the advice is increasingly brought to them through social media."

Automated payments made easy

A guide highlighting the benefits of using automated payment methods has been launched by Bacs Payment Schemes and the Institute of Credit Management. The Automated Payment Method Guide is the latest addition to the popular Managing Cashflow Guide series, which is supported by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and endorsed by Lord Sugar.

The guides help businesses promote best payment practice under the guidelines in the Prompt Payment Code. Philip King, chief executive of the ICM, said that electronic payment transfer was "an essential weapon in the credit manager's armoury to ensure payments are received on the day they are due, without delay, and with none of the uncertainty and inconvenience associated with cheques."

The guide can be accessed here.