Weekly Tech Round-Up #27

Here is all the tech news you need to know from the past week, sign up for our newsletter to receive this in your inbox every week. We also do a South West tech news update.

New prototype face mask can detect COVID-19 infection in wearers

Scientists have developed a prototype face mask that can diagnose whether its wearer has COVID-19 within 90 minutes. The tiny, disposable sensors designed by engineers at he Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard could potentially be adapted to detect other pathogens in the future. The key technology is in the sensor which is based on freeze-dried synthetic genetic circuits that react with a particular target molecule – in this case the genetic material of the coronavirus itself.

“This test is as sensitive as the gold standard, highly sensitive PCR tests, but it’s as fast as the antigen tests that are used for quick analysis of COVID-19,” said Peter Nguyen, one of the lead authors on the study of the technology.

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Less than a quarter of UK tech leaders find quality candidates easily, survey reveals

  • 87% would like to see more university talent emerging and 85% would like to see more women applying for tech roles
  • UK tech leaders look for attitude over experience, whereas US tech leaders prioritise experience
  • Both UK and US report business and communication skills missing in applications

Less than a quarter of UK tech leaders find it easy to find quality tech candidates. That’s according to a recent survey by Talent Works, which surveyed 400 tech leaders in the UK and US to determine the state of hiring tech talent in both markets.

The survey found that the US tech graduate market is richer in the US with leaders more likely to find it easier to hire tech talent (47%) compared to those in the UK (23%). However, with both the UK (85%) and US (90%) wanting to see more female talent entering the industry, competition for diverse tech talent is growing in both markets. Ensuring that there is a strong next generation of talent was also a key focus for UK tech leaders, with 87% wanting to see more tech talent emerging from universities.

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UKCloud becomes first UK tech firm to secure top-level social value accreditation

Public sector-focused infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider UKCloud has become the first UK tech firm to achieve a Social Value Quality Mark (SVQM) Level 2 accreditation in recognition of its commitment to ensuring its operations bring societal benefits. Earlier this year, the company became the first UK tech firm to secure a SVQM Level 1 accreditation, and now it has followed that up by doubling down on its efforts to showcase its support for delivering social value with a Level 2 certification.

The company was presented with the award at its offices in Farnborough on Friday 25 June by the MP for Aldershot, Leo Docherty MP, and Richard Dickins, managing director of consultancy firm Social Value Business.

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New science and technology council aims to boost UK tech

The council will provide strategic direction on the use of science and technology as tools to tackle societal changes. Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, will take on a new role as National Technology Adviser, and head up a new Office for Science and Technology Strategy based in the Cabinet Office. 

The organisation will review which technologies the UK should prioritise to gain a strategic advantage, and could have funding implications across engineering – the government is investing £14.9 billion in research and development in 2021-2022.

It could include developing technology to combat the climate crisis by accelerating the race to net zero, and designing medicines that can cure, rather than just treat cancer. 

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