Pilot Program Targets Innovation for Small Mediumsized Businesses

first_imgSmall and medium-sized businesses in Nova Scotia will soon have access to funding for support and services through a pilot program to help them become more innovative and productive. The Productivity and Innovation Voucher Pilot Program will award eligible businesses vouchers for up to $15,000 to help purchase services and support to expand their businesses. The program targets areas such as research, management of intellectual property, new product and product prototype design, lab equipment rental, and support for post-graduate students placements. “This program reinforces government’s commitment to support and stimulate innovation and productivity, ensuring that our businesses are globally competitive and sustainable,” said Economic Development Minister Angus MacIssac. “A key benefit of this program is that it will provide small and medium-sized businesses with a range of options, allowing them the flexibility to choose the services they need in a way that is most convenient for them.” Organizations interested in providing services for the voucher program are invited to visit www.gov.ns.ca/econ/pnivouchers/ to submit information about their services and programs. A final list of eligible service providers will be posted Friday, Nov. 21. Businesses can submit applications for the program vouchers, on the same website, beginning Monday, Nov. 24. The Department of Economic Development will review the applications on a first-come, first-serve basis and award the vouchers based on eligibility criteria set out on the website, and the level of demand for the various service providers. Once approved for a voucher, a business will select from the service providers, and arrange for the work to be done. The pilot program will use $1 million in private-sector productivity and innovation funding allocated in the 2008-09 provincial budget. The program will accept applications from businesses until Dec. 21. Innovation voucher programs have been used successfully in Ireland and the Netherlands. For more information on the Productivity and Innovation Voucher program, visit the website at www.gov.ns.ca/econ/pnivouchers/ .last_img read more

A rose by any other name… perfuming the path in UN battle

22 January 2010The United Nations has mobilized the fashion and cosmetics industries in an “eco-fashion” battle to curb the unprecedented loss of the world’s biodiversity, from over-harvesting wild species for their skins or natural fibres to pollution caused by manufacturing processes. More than 500 prominent figures from government, international organizations and the above industries have been meeting in Geneva over the past two days at the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) ‘Best Use of Nature’ forum to promote ethical action by producers and consumers against the rapid loss of the world’s species as part of the International Year of Biodiversity.Michel Mane, President of Mane USA, a leading supplier of natural ingredients for perfumes, told participants that biodiversity is a source of creativity and new products for his industry, which is worth billions of dollars annually, and it is vital for supply chains to be transparent so that natural ingredients are responsibly harvested and valuable plants are not exhausted.Techniques are now being established for the growth of perfume ingredients in developing countries that use both cutting-edge, environmentally benign agricultural practices and provide local employment, he said.“Changing the way consumers and markets value biodiversity offers an opportunity to maximize the positive and minimize the negative impact on communities, economies and the environment,” UNCTAD said in advance of the conference, citing the case of the Tibetan antelope, which has declined from over 1 million in number in 1900 to 75,000 today because poachers sell the skins for the production of luxury shawls.“By further redefining sustainable development to include greater business engagement in policy and strategy debates, prospects for tackling the global challenges presented by poverty and environmental degradation are strengthened,” it added.It cited as an example of successful sustainable management the export of caiman skins and products by Bolivian communities – over $1.4 million in sales to Italy, up 282 per cent over 2003, and $500,000 to the United States, up 364 per cent – under plans ensuring that harvesting does not exceed reproduction rates.Turning to harmful production practices, it noted that washing wool, separating flax fibres from stalks, tanning leather, bleaching, dying, printing, and finishing consume large amounts of water and energy, use toxic chemicals and produce effluents that can pollute air, water and soil. Tanning is particularly polluting, having one of the highest toxic intensities per unit of output.By contrast, “eco-fashion” firms adopt approaches that take into account the preservation of the environment. For example, organically grown cotton does not involve the use of pesticides and other chemicals that can cause species damage. Worldwide, cotton now accounts for 11 per cent of pesticides and 25 per cent of all insecticides used each year.Giulia Di Tommaso, an external affairs official of Unilever Corporation, a multinational manufacturer of cosmetics and soaps and a major buyer of agricultural commodities such as palm oil, stressed the importance of the sustainability and transparency of supply chains, citing greatly increased consumer interest in environmental standards. Her firm is focusing increasingly on the sustainable use of water and soils, and respect for flora and fauna of rainforests, she said.Edna dos Santos, Chief of UNCTAD’s Creative Economies and Industries Programme, noted that marketing fashion products, including not only clothes but cosmetics and perfumes, can lead to significant employment gains in developing countries, often involving small businesses, an important player in economic progress but often in short supply. This evening the conference will close with an “EcoChic” fashion show and exhibition celebrating sustainable fashion and accessories, of which over 50 have been donated by designers from around the world, including the renowned figures Diane Von Furstenberg, Manish Arora, Bora Aksu, and Thakoon.The General Assembly proclaimed 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity in a bid to halt the unprecedented extinction of species due to human activity – at a pace some experts estimate to be 1,000 times more rapid than the natural rate typical of the Earth’s long-term history – and multiple events are scheduled throughout the 12 months to produce blueprints for action. read more

UNHCR fears for staff safety after fighting erupts near Afghan refugee camp

According to a spokesman for the agency, fighting erupted between two groups in villages adjacent to the Old Bagzai camp in North West Frontier Province. A staff member of a UNHCR implementing partner was killed and two others were injured in the crossfire, though neither the refugees nor the humanitarian workers were the targets of the shooting.“UNHCR has consistently expressed concern about the security of its staff, the staff of its implementing partners and the refugees in the tribal areas near the Pakistan-Afghan border, where all the new refugee camps are situated, and very much regrets the death of the worker,” spokesman Yusuf Hassan told reporters in Islamabad, adding that all UNHCR staff were safely evacuated to the nearby town of Sadda.The incident has forced UNHCR to temporarily halt the re-location of Afghan refugees to the Old Bagzai camp, Mr. Hassan said. Earlier, a delegation from one of the warring groups had entered the camp and the staff had to call in the local authorities to have them removed.The authorities have intervened and paramilitary units have been deployed to separate the two groups, Mr. Hassan said. “This morning, we understand that a loya jirga was convened to discuss how to resolve the dispute,” he added. “We hope to resume our work as soon as the security situation permits.”Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that immunization teams were going from mosque to mosque, village to village, to vaccinate the children in the more remote areas of Badakhshan Province as part of its ongoing measles vaccination drive. The remoteness of the Yumgan Valley of the Jurm District, and lack of road access, “makes for greater efforts by vaccination teams, who are trekking it for the most part, while storage equipment containing vaccine vials are being carried atop donkeys,” according to UNICEF spokesman Chulho Hyun. read more

Young adults may stumble upon news but they read it every day

by Martha Irvine, The Associated Press Posted Mar 16, 2015 3:21 pm MDT CHICAGO – Young adults have a reputation for being connected to one another and disconnected from the news. But a survey has found that mobile devices and social networking are keeping them more engaged with the broader world than previously thought.They want news, they say, though they don’t always aggressively seek it out — perhaps simply happening upon it on a friend’s online feed. And they want it daily.The survey of Americans ages 18 to 34, sometimes called the millennial generation, found that two-thirds of respondents said they consume news online regularly, often on a social networking site. Of those, 40 per cent do so several times a day, according to the poll, conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute.It’s been a slowly building trend in news consumption that experts say is trickling up to older generations — and that young people say helps them stay current, even if they never read an actual newspaper or watch the evening news on TV.“I don’t think people would expect us to know what we know,” says Erica Quinn, a 24-year-old college student in Gainesville, Florida, who participated in the survey. The findings were to be presented Monday in Nashville at the annual convention of the Newspaper Association of America.Among other things, the respondents said their consumption of news and information on various devices was most often sparked by an interest in civic issues, for social reasons, including discussing a topic with friends, or because they just find it enjoyable.The survey found that young adults generally get harder news from more traditional news sites and “softer” lifestyle news from social networks, Facebook being the overwhelming favourite.That’s generally how it works for Marilu Rodriguez, a 29-year-old from suburban Chicago, who participated in a focus group that accompanied the survey.She recalls how, as a child, the TV news would come on at her house after her family had watched the latest episode of their favourite telenovela, a Spanish-language soap opera.“It was a family thing to watch the news,” Rodriguez says.Now her smartphone is her most frequent portal to the world, as she surfs social networking and news sites, often on her train ride to and from work as a co-ordinator for a non-profit organization in downtown Chicago. Like many in the survey, she gets a lot of her news through a “diverse mix of friends” on those social networking sites.She considers herself an active seeker of news and still watches TV news, though she expressed frustration over slanted coverage and lack of serious stories. “Some news stations need to grow up,” she says.Still, only 39 per cent of the survey respondents said they typically actively seek out news, while 60 per cent said they mostly “bump into” that type of content as they do other things on Facebook and other sites.That certainly could be seen as passive consumption.But Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute, noted that many respondents who generally let news come to them might comment on a story posted by a friend or look for more information because they were skeptical.“So there’s a level of activity or participation that wasn’t even possible in earlier times,” says Rosenstiel, who will present the survey findings in Nashville.He also noted that 70 per cent of young adults surveyed say their social media feeds include a mix of viewpoints, increasing their chances of reading a wider array of content.Overall, the survey found that the average young adult regularly uses three or more social media platforms, among them Twitter, YouTube and sometimes Tumblr and Reddit. The youngest adults often use four social networking sites.That said, survey respondent Travis Morgan says he still likes reading a printed newspaper and watching news on television — and using a search engine to dig more deeply if he wants to know more.“This may make me sound like an old man,” Morgan, a 33-year-old pilot from Grants Pass, Oregon, says, laughing. “I just want the story. I don’t want opinion. I don’t want all this extra stuff.”But that’s not true for many of his elders. Experts who track the public’s online habits say that on-the-go news consumption is growing among older generations as well.Joseph Kahne, a professor who studies civic and political engagement online, has found a steady increase in news consumption and social media across all age groups.That’s good for getting people more involved with topics of the day, says Kahne, an education professor at Mills College in Oakland, California, who chairs the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics.But with so much content out there — often from lesser-known sources — he says it also means, “that all of us will need to become increasingly sophisticated, as we will need to make judgments regarding credibility that had previously been made by news editors.”The survey of 1,046 young adults was conducted from Jan. 5 through Feb. 2, 2015, by the Media Insight Project, a partnership between the AP-NORC Center and the American Press Institute, which funded the study.The results tallied online interviews in English or Spanish done with the random sample of adults age 18-34 who were initially recruited and screened to take part in the survey over the phone. Results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.___AP News Survey Specialist Emily Swanson contributed to this report.___Follow Martha Irvine on Twitter at http://twitter.com/irvineap .___Online:Media Insight Project: http://www.mediainsight.org Young adults may stumble upon news, but they read it every day, survey shows AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email In this Friday, March 13, 2015 photo, Marilu Rodriguez checks a news website on her smartphone before boarding a train home at the end of her work week in Chicago. Young adults have a reputation for being connected to one another, yet disconnected from the news, but a new survey has found, that mobile devices and, in some cases, social networking are keeping them more engaged with the broader world around them than previously thought. Rodriguez’ smartphone is her most frequent portal to the world, as she surfs social networking and news sites, often on her train ride to and from her work as a coordinator for a nonprofit organization. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) read more