Launch of the European Digital SME Alliance

The UK IT Association  is one of the founding members of the European Digital SME Alliance which is a group of the associations similar to UKITA in the other EU countries.

In this way, the European Digital  SME Alliance is a ‘club of clubs’ of the SME-focussed IT, Tech and Digital businesses in the EU numbering some 20,000 SME businesses amongst its members.

At the CEBIT 2016 conference in Hannover, Dr Oliver Grun, President of the European Digital SME Alliance presented Gerard de Graff (EC Director for the digital economy with a 10-point list of ideas to enhance the EU Digital SME Economy:

  1. A European Digital SME Hub to connect SMEs as an answer to the dominance of large IT business groups
  2. Unified European contract law
  3. Introduction of a European capital company
  4. Tax: reduction of VAT cross-border obstacles, retention of profits and fight multinational tax avoidance
  5. Enabling a modern and data-driven economy
  6. Modernisation of access to finance, especially initial and growth capital
  7. Unified regulation of the digital infrastructure
  8. SME-friendly standardisation policy
  9. Unified European framework on copyright and improvement of European patent law
  10. Digital skills for SMEs


A full copy of the 10-point plan which the Digital SME Alliance presented to Gerard de Graaf can be read here (PDF): 

The full Press Release for the CEBIT Launch event appears below:


Launch of the European Digital SME Alliance

  • CeBIT of Hannover hosts the launch event of the “European Digital SME Alliance”
  • Digital SME Alliance President Dr. Oliver Grün presents 10 ideas to boost Europe’s digital economy
  • Dr. Grün delivers the 10 ideas to Gerard de Graaf, EC Director for Digital Economy

Hannover 15. March 2016 – PIN-SME, the European association of ICT small and medium sized enterprises, launched the European Digital SME Alliance, the largest network ICT small and medium sized enterprises in Europe, representing about 20.000 digital SMEs across the EU. The alliance is the joint effort of 28 national and regional SME associations from EU member states and neighboring countries to put digital SME at the centre of the EU agenda.

At the opening event today, Dr. Oliver Grün, president of PIN-SME and now of the European Digital SME Alliance, launched the new Alliance together with representatives from national and regional ICT Associations from several countries Europe. „The European economy is driven by SMEs. Numerous SME champions are arising and many of them are leaders in their national markets. Digitalization and internationalization are keys for the success of these companies“ explains Grün. „ European digital SMEs are providers of digital solutions and enablers of digitalization. We want Europe to exploit their potential.“

In a 10-point-paper, the Alliance summarised concrete ideas for Europe to boost its digital economy and for European SMEs to become the future global leaders. Next to ideas such as harmonization of contract law, VAT, digital infrastructure, copyright and patent law, as well as modernization of access to finance, the paper proposes the creation of a European Hub for Digital SMEs to connect SMEs as an answer to the dominance of large IT multinationals.

On behalf of the Alliance, Grün delivered the 10-points-paper to Gerard de Graaf, Director at the European Commission with responsibility for Digital Economy. De Graaf emphasized the importance of digital SMEs for the European economy. „ Digital SMEs enhance innovation and generate jobs across Europe. They are assets for the successful digitalization of European industry. Strong digital SMEs pave the way to a strong European economy in the future.“

About the European Digital SME Alliance:

The European Digital SME Alliance des PIN-SME a.i.s.b.l. presents represents 20,000 ICT SMEs across Europe and is the largest network ICT small and medium sized enterprises in Europe.

More Information: European Digital SME Alliance, 4, Rue Jacques de Lalaing 1040, Brussels, Belgium,, Tel.: +32 228 507 29, Internet:

UKITA member’s apprentice wins Worcestershire Higher Apprenticeship Award 2014

Luke Carrier, winner of the Worcestershire Higher Apprenticeship Award 2014, is a perfect example of an apprentice who has demonstrated significant personal and professional development by undertaking a Tech Industry Gold Higher apprenticeship delivered by TDM Wyre Academy.

Recognised by the Tech Partnership as a Tech Industry Gold accredited programme, the apprenticeship has been designed by employers to ensure that apprentices are equipped with the skills they need to become software developer professionals.

Luke realised whilst studying for A-Levels that he would learn more through an apprenticeship, saying, “I have been developing codeline in my bedroom since I was 12. I found school difficult because the teachers were not able to stretch my IT skills. I found I was still struggling to motivate myself in Sixth Form, the IT content covered was still not stretching my experience and knowledge.”

When asked to describe his apprenticeship journey Luke, now aged 21, said: “When I discovered that there was an IT Software Development house in Bewdley – TDM Open Source Software Services – who were able to offer me an apprenticeship, I couldn’t resist the opportunity! My family supported me fully in my decision to apply.”

Having progressed to a Higher Apprenticeship Level, Luke became a fully professional and accountable software codeline developer.

“I started as a level 2 ICT Professional Apprentice, working with experienced developers, not only in my own office but in an international community. Three years down the line I’ve just completed my Higher Apprenticeship. While my peers have been studying at university, I have developed a bespoke software plugin for Nottingham University! During my three amazing apprenticeship years I have also been responsible for managing mission critical hosting contracts for big organisations such as Remploy and Nescot College. My proudest contribution, though, has been an in-house innovation, building on top of TotaraLMS software, I created the first version of “Totara for Apprenticeships” for my company’s own IT skills academy.”

Luke’s employers have felt that the apprenticeship had exceeded their expectations, with Luke actively contributing to codeline development of a range of open source software platforms. After around 8 months of apprenticeship experience, they were able to trust Luke to deliver on external contracts and customers have praised Luke’s technical skills, customer service and professionalism.

UKITA member EPX celebrates ten years of trading

Two young entrepreneurs, who first met at University, celebrated their first decade in business last week. It was while studying IT at Staffordshire University that Dan, 30, first met co-director Mark Pennington, also 30, at a local student club night. “We drank Sambuca and talked about how we had both always wanted to have our own business” recalled Dan, “That was in 2002. Three years later our journey with EPX Ltd began.

Although much of the last ten years have been challenging for many industries, EPX has grown steadily, always offering the kind of cutting edge technology that helps businesses run as reliably, efficiently and smoothly as they can. One recent innovation EPX offers is microwave internet connections to rural or otherwise inaccessible locations. “As well as all kinds of businesses, our customers range from schools to hospitals and the Ministry of Defence to Her Majesty’s Prison Service.” explained Dan.

Having started out as just the two of them in 2005, Dan and Mark now oversee 18 members of staff, covering the whole of the North West and the Midlands.

Although still relatively young, their expert knowledge and years of professional experience have added up to a winning formula for sustainable success. Expansion has led to the recent opening of an EPX office in Stafford, Staffordshire – the town where the entrepreneurs studied.

On Friday 27th March the champagne corks flew at EPX’s Stafford office, when the town’s Mayor, Councillor Ray Sutherland, joined them to celebrate the ten year milestone. The directors were pleased to be quizzed by the Mayor about their services. He was surprised and delighted to learn that the very room their Stafford branch now occupies was once the night club where they had had that fateful conversation about wanting to run their own business, thirteen years ago.

Toasting their first decade in business, His Worshipful, the Mayor kindly wished the company every success in the next ten years.

The company’s website is

For further info please contact Tom Harris on 07966 488690.

UKITA member Active Communications celebrates 25 years in business

Four years ago, Pete Jacobs from Active Communications, Coventry, was quoted as saying ‘I’m looking forward to our next milestone of twenty five years, then I can say did we really achieve all that?’
Pete Jacobs and Martin Gardner have now hit that next milestone of twenty five years in business. Judging by the turnout at their celebratory event in August at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, the answer would seem to be a resounding yes!
A dedication to customer service meant that many of the guests weren’t just customers; long standing friendships have been borne from the perseverance of customer care and quality delivery. Also in attendance was Councillor Hazel Noonan, the Lord Mayor of Coventry, known as a keen supporter of local business.
Pete and Martin’s story goes back to well beyond the quarter century celebration, actually forming their relationship as part of the early 2-Tone music movement, another success story from the City of Coventry, although as no doubt Pete would agree, it seems that network cabling has been the more successful part of their careers.
In today’s language, they would be classed as ‘Entrepreneurs’; seeing an opportunity to take control of their own destiny and with a loan from their parents, they started a video film hire business. Business was good, but their entrepreneurial spirit meant that they looked toward the future; what opportunities were there for expansion? A chance meeting would see both Pete and Martin training to install commercial telephone systems; this in turn led them to setting up Active Communications in 1989.
Twenty five years in business is a testament in its own right, but seeing through at least two major recessions in that time gives further evidence of the quality of service and product that they deliver. With many businesses now having to compete virtually but with real world reviews, competition is tougher than ever, something that hasn’t escaped Pete or Martin.
Keeping up with technology is a key part to their business success; as technology changes, so do the requirements and options of their customers. Active Communications now offer a bespoke installation service for network cabling infrastructure, telecommunications, Mobotix high-resolution IP CCTV cameras and door access control systems.
They readily admit that they wouldn’t have got this far without their loyal customer support and commitment from their suppliers, allied to their equally committed and highly trained staff; they have a well-deserved reputation that is the envy of their peers.
In the words of the Lord Mayor, let’s hope that Active Communications keep ‘active’ for many years to come.

UKITA member TDM Wyre Academy celebrates apprentices success

Apprentices from TDM Wyre Academy have been honoured at a graduation ceremony, attended by family, friends, employers, trainers and assessors. The apprentices, employed at a range of organisations around Worcestershire and the Midlands, have completed their apprenticeships across a wide range of IT disciplines, including Information Systems, Software Development, Web Design, and IT Support.

This year there were 46 graduating apprentices, with 11 attending the ceremony at St. George’s Hall, Bewdley. Graduation certificates were presented by, Derrin Kent and Duncan Carson from the TDM Wyre Academy. The apprentice graduates were also joined by guest of honour, John Pritchard, Director of Apprenticeships, Standards and Quality of the Tech Partnership. John Pritchard said; “Higher Apprentices are bringing in fresh ideas and excellent new talent to the sector. By completing a Tech Industry Gold accredited apprenticeship in IT, these young people now have career paths that are genuinely limitless.”

Sue Carrier, whose son Luke received his Tech Industry Gold Higher Apprenticeship said; “Thank you to all at TDM for the wonderful welcome and hospitality at the apprentice graduation ceremony. Congratulations to all graduates. Thank you TDM for the commitment, support and guidance my son received throughout his apprenticeship.”

Derrin Kent, TDM Wyre Academy Managing Director said; “I am delighted that we are able to recognise the achievements of apprentices who have worked extremely hard to achieve their Higher and Advanced apprenticeships. We’d also like to thank employers for investing in Apprenticeships that offer ambitious, talented young people excellent career prospects and give organisations a route to grow and develop a highly qualified and motivated workforce. We’d urge anyone interested – both employers and potential apprentices – to get in touch with TDM’s Apprenticeships team.”

Apprentices were present from organisations across Worcestershire and the Midlands, including AVL, Dolphin Computer Access, Datascan Retail Systems, King Charles I School, Oosha IT, Sanctuary Group, Southall School and UK Oak Doors.

TDM Wyre Academy, a specialist training provider established in 2010, works with employers and young people across Worcestershire and the Midlands to deliver Tech Industry Gold accredited IT apprenticeships and Digital Marketing apprenticeships.

Notes to Editors:

Press Release Contact Details:

Kerry Carpenter, Marketing & CRM Manager, TDM Wyre Academy

E: kerry@tdm.coT: 0333 10 100 40

TDM Wyre Academy, 25a Load Street, Bewdley, Worcestershire, DY12 2AE

TDM Wyre Academy

TDM Wyre Academy ICT Apprenticeships provide school and college leavers with fantastic opportunities to develop their careers in the exciting and rapidly growing IT & Digital sectors.

TDM Wyre Academy apprenticeships are Tech Partnership approved as Tech Gold and offer high quality work based learning programmes, combining genuine employment and mentoring with training and assessment provided by qualified and experienced IT practitioners and educators.

To find out more visit , call 0333 10 100 68 or email

Tech Industry Gold apprenticeships

Tech Industry Gold apprenticeships are licensed by tech employers as delivering high quality learning and development that meet the skills needs for employment in the sector.

Employer members of the Tech Industry Gold network share best practice, benefit from online resources, and contribute to the tech sector’s work in increasing uptake of apprenticeships.

Tech Industry Gold apprentices benefit from industry – developed course standards, supported by up-to-date online resources, ensuring that the develop the technical, business and interpersonal skills to make a swift contribution to their employers.

For further information please visit

UKITA member EPX Ltd supports Staffordshire University’s Challenge Lab

For several years now, students at Staffordshire University have taken part in fortnightly, voluntary, extra-curricular events called Challenge Lab, where they are set technical challenges by each other, lecturers and businesses. These events, also known as ‘hackathons’, usually take place over the space of two or so days, with teams working intensely to find working, prototype solutions that can be developed further.

Recently, UKITA member EPX Ltd, an IT firm that provides services to SMEs and organisations across the Midlands and North West, was invited to take part, by providing a problem that needed to be solved, being present while the students worked on their ideas and then judging the results. “We provided equipment, such as servers, as well as plenty of pizza”, said Dan Ellis, co-director at EPX.

The technical challenge EPX gave the final year Computer Games Programming students, Josh Gibson and Russel Stocking, was to distribute audio via WiFi, with the idea being, for example, that one computer could stream music to several others located around a building.

Bob Hobbs, Senior Lecturer in Computing at Staffordshire University, who oversees the Challenge Lab, explained, “This benefits EPX in that they can trial what might be a commercially viable idea at greatly reduced costs, thereby considerably lowering their risk. The students develop expertise and gain real-life experience at working on an innovative and potentially commercial project, under the guidance of the companies involved, so the project benefits both sides.”

“Without firms like EPX coming up with interesting challenges, providing equipment and being there to oversee the project, Challenge Lab would not be the excellent opportunity it is to showcase the talent at the University”, Mr Hobbs concluded.

“It was fantastic to work with the students. We were delighted by how well they did, in a really short amount of time. Their prototype, while not yet fully functional, demonstrated the principle, which is a massive step towards creating a finished solution”, said Dan. “I find it endlessly encouraging to see the ability and ingenuity demonstrated by the students of today. It is reassuring for the future of the British technology industry to know that such highly skilled students will soon be entering the workforce.”

Dan and his fellow director at EPX, Mark Pennington, met in the early noughties while studying at Staffordshire University. The company has maintained close ties with the university ever since it was founded, ten years ago, including by providing work placements and acting as judges at GradEx, the annual exhibition where graduates present their final year projects.