Alpha Publications

No Way Huawei

17 December 2018

Huawei (pronounced Wah Wey) is one of the world’s biggest makers of smartphones and networking equipment. The New Zealand government is the latest to prevent Huawei supplying a local mobile network with 5G equipment. Three members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance have now acted against the Shenzhen-based company whilst Canada is carrying out a security […]

A Warmer but Wetter Outlook

10 December 2018

The UK is a world leader in tackling climate change – with emissions reduced by more than 40% since 1990. However, in its first major update on climate change in almost 10 years, the Met Office has warned of significant temperature rises in the decades ahead. The UK Climate Projections 2018 or UKCP18 study suggests summer […]

Spotlight on Auditors

3 December 2018

Under fire audit watchdog, the Financial Reporting Council, is investigating a growing number of cases involving the UK’s leading accountancy firms. The latest investigation involves alleged misconduct relating to audit work carried out at mattress company Silentnight. This adds to a growing list of other well publicised audit criticisms including Carillion and more recently Patisserie […]

UK Power Vacuum

26 November 2018

Charismatic entrepreneur Sir James Dyson has been a prominent advocate of Brexit and recently insisted that the UK leaving the EU with no deal, would ‘make no difference’. With a massive research and development capability in the UK but a manufacturing presence in Singapore, it is understandable that Dyson would not envisage being impacted by […]

Transforming Construction

19 November 2018

Japan’s ageing population is well documented and is creating many economic challenges. It is also reflective of demographic trends within many other countries. In Japan, a third of construction workers are over 54 years of age and they are not being replaced fast enough by younger workers. Japan’s pool of construction workers is forecast to […]

AIM-IHT Portfolio Service Newsletter – November 2018

12 November 2018

Please see our first AIM IHT Newsletter. Given the scale of the market’s recent movements, we felt it more appropriate to revise our data to the 30th October. In future, this will become a quarterly feature. Text extract: October provided us with a tricky start to the final quarter of 2018. Careful stock screening and […]

Lest We Forget

12 November 2018

At a time when we have chance to reflect on the war to end all wars, around 70 world leaders  gathered in Paris to attend a peace conference – the Paris Peace Forum. Recent political disharmony has centred on national interests and spurred increased military tensions. As we approach a new era of independence, where does […]

Golden Dragon

5 November 2018

There are a record number of global billionaires. The recent growth in Chinese super rich has been staggering. According to a report by Swiss bank UBS, the largest communist state, China produced billionaires at the rate of two a week in 2017, with some 373 by the end of the year and an estimated wealth […]

That Sinking Feeling

29 October 2018

Italy’s populist government won this year’s elections with promises to spend big. However, are their promises already underwater? National debt already stands at €2.3trillion which is 131% of the economy. That means that Greece is the only country in the eurozone with a bigger debt burden at 178%. Italy is bound by the EU Stability […]

Red October

22 October 2018

Notorious supervillain Gru is the main character of animated film Despicable Me. Some would say equally accident prone, but far more dangerous is GRU -Russia’s military intelligence unit. What are Putin’s minions up to?   British and Dutch authorities recently named four members of Russia’s GRU caught red-handed trying to infiltrate the inquiry into the Salisbury […]

When Autumn Becomes Fall

15 October 2018

Autumn officially started on the 23rd September. Intriguingly, the season is referred to as ‘Fall’ in America and is roughly marked the recent peak of the US stock market. Along with many other global markets UK equities have taken something of a battering over the last week. While UK media has tended to focus on […]

Final Countdown

8 October 2018

Just in Time is a very simple concept, but one that is essential in modern manufacturing. Global supply chains and tight control of working capital means manufacturers and retailers rely on smooth running logistics, with delivery ‘just in time’ of components and finished goods. We appear to be entering the final countdown in the Brexit standoff. […]


1 October 2018

You may not be surprised to hear that the Met Office has confirmed 2018 was the joint hottest summer on record for the UK as a whole and hotter than the sizzling summer of 1976 for England.  However, according to the British Pest Control Association, the recent heatwave resulted in a significant increase in the […]

Enter the Dragon

24 September 2018

Xi Jinping and Putin – What are you cooking up? At a time of increasing tension between the East and West, Russia recently carried out its largest war game since the fall of the Soviet Union. The military training exercise, Vostok 2018, involved some 300,000 troops, including joint exercises and units from China. As both […]

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet

17 September 2018

Is it goodbye or until the next time? Pub chain JD Wetherspoon is calling time on the infamous Jäger bomb. The German herbal spirit Jägermeister is being replaced, along with a number of well-known European branded spirits, by domestic alternatives. Well known as a champion of Brexit and free trade, Tim Martin, has made a […]

2p or not 2p, That is the Question

10 September 2018

The halfpenny was abolished in 1984 and the value of the 1p coin has subsequently been reduced by inflation. Furthermore, the Treasury estimates that six in ten 1p and 2p coins are only used once before being put in a jar or discarded while one in twelve is thrown into a bin. The government has […]

For Whom the Bridge Tolls

3 September 2018

Tolls on the bridges across the River Severn between England and Wales will be scrapped by the end of 2018, when ownership passes to Highways England. This will remove the current toll of £6.70 for cars and up to £20 for lorries. This is in line with previous pledges by both the Conservative and Labour […]

Latte Levy

28 August 2018

When it comes to the environment, it appears even mining companies are exploring greener manufacturing options these days. This is in response to interest from major global brand owners who want to ensure consumers view their products and the packaging they are sold in, are as environmentally friendly as possible. Iron, steel and aluminium production […]

The Caspian Sea – Agreement, at Least on the Surface

20 August 2018

Despite the term ‘sea’ being used in its name, the Caspian Sea is the world’s largest inland body of water and technically a salt water lake. Home to the sturgeon and producing between 80%-90% of the world’s caviar, the Caspian Sea is also highly-prized for its vast oil and gas reserves, estimated to be 50 […]

Debt by Another Name

13 August 2018

Despite apparent close government oversight, the sudden collapse of Carillion last year was a surprise to them and sent shockwaves through the UK construction sector. This has led to calls for a review of the government’s policy on outsourcing of public services to the private sector.  Unsurprisingly, Jeremy Corbyn reiterated that a Labour government would look […]

Under the Influence

6 August 2018

Twice as many youngsters are believed to have applied to appear in ITV2 reality show Love Island as applied to attend Oxford and Cambridge Universities. A sad reflection on our country or the new reality of easy money to be made from social media? The winners Dani Dyer and Jack Fincham, besides picking up the […]

Hotting up

31 July 2018

    Those of us of a certain age might well have some fond memories of the golden summer of 1976. Whilst many of us enjoyed the endless days of summer sun, the country was actually in crisis, caught up in the worst drought for 250 years. This led to the appointment of Denis Howell […]

What a waste

23 July 2018

Overnight the UK’s National Audit Office (NAO) has revealed that over half of the packaging reported as recycled, is actually being sent abroad to be ‘processed’. For decades, China was the world’s largest importer of waste — a status that many countries took for granted, However, from January this year in a surprise move, Beijing […]

Disruption Ahead

16 July 2018

The Piccadilly line tube station in Enfield, North London, will be temporarily rebranded Gareth Southgate for 48 hours from Monday, Transport for London has today revealed. Now onto other notable disruptions this morning… Some traditional business models, that have existed for many years, are now under threat from a new age of internet- based disruptors. […]

A Taxing Challenge

9 July 2018

As the UK swelters in a heatwave and the nation’s thoughts turn to Moscow, lets ponder a taxing question. The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently published a report examining the growth of electric vehicles and the repercussions for the oil market. This included looking at the possible impact on the tax revenue of governments globally […]

Cashless High Street

2 July 2018

Our banks and building societies are closing branches at an alarming rate as they seek to reduce costs in the face of changes in consumer banking trends. Last month, Royal Bank of Scotland announced it was to close a further 162 branches bringing the total planned closures so far in 2018 to approximately 800. Half […]

Summer C Oh2 Crisis

25 June 2018

A pan European shortage of CO2 could take the fizz out of our summer celebrations. At least five producers in northern Europe are reportedly closed due to a combination of technical failures and planned repairs causing the worst supply situation to hit the European CO2 business in decades. Carbon dioxide is actually a by-product of […]

A Game of Two Halves

18 June 2018

Just in case you hadn’t noticed, the World Cup is underway, which made us think. Investing can be a bit like a football match. Why? Well, it’s the result that matters, but often it can be ‘a game of two halves’. These days, more companies are issuing trading updates to keep investors up to speed […]

Vanilla Ice

11 June 2018

The term ‘vanilla’ when investing, typically describes a simplistic or basic version of a financial instrument, not exotic or with leverage for those seeking extra spice. Talking of spices, saffron is more valuable than gold. Vanilla, due to the difficulty in cultivating the delicate vanilla orchid flower, is now as expensive as silver. Madagascar, which […]

Lightning Strike

4 June 2018

The spring Bank Holiday weekend saw thunderstorms and torrential rain sweeping across parts of Britain, with dramatic lightning flashes across the sky. Around 15,000 lightning strikes were recorded in the early hours of Saturday morning. This week we expect more lightning. However, this is the long-awaited arrival of the first £100m new ‘game changer’ F-35 […]

Bright Sparks

29 May 2018

Napoleon famously described us as a nation of shopkeepers. However, Britain is rapidly becoming an island of inventors and entrepreneurs. London is Europe’s leading start-up economy, despite the uncertainty around Brexit. Encouragingly, according to a recent research report small business survival rates are over 90% after one year of trading, although after five years just […]

Four Candles or Fork Handles?

21 May 2018

  Technological change seems to be moving at an even faster pace these days and where America leads the rest of the world tends to follow. The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has previously had extremely tight rules on the use of drones but has selected ten commercial drone projects to test new ways for unmanned […]

Death of the Nile

14 May 2018

Oil recently hit a 3-year high as tensions in the Middle East have escalated and President Trump has pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal. However, this has distracted attention from elsewhere in the resource rich region. A major geopolitical crisis involving Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan has erupted over who controls the Nile, the world’s […]

Smart Applications

8 May 2018

Car workers at BMW in Germany are wearing ‘smart’ gloves that can scan objects when they put their thumb and forefinger together and the data is sent wirelessly to a central computer. The smart gloves have replaced hand-held barcode readers and allows the workers to keep hold of items with both hands speeding up the […]

Living Like Sardines

30 April 2018

A recent study by structural warranty provider, LABC Warranty, has revealed that over a 50-year period new houses built in the UK have been shrinking in size.  Along with the size, the number of houses has diminished, as regulations and guidelines for new housing developments have increased. The analysis concluded that house sizes are smaller […]


23 April 2018

The 2013 multi-Oscar winning film ‘Gravity’, featured two American astronauts attempting to return to Earth after the mid-orbit destruction of their shuttle by space debris. After 60-years of space exploration the Earth’s atmosphere has a mass of debris, ranging from old rocket bodies and defunct spacecraft to screws and even flecks of paint. The average […]

Top Trumps

16 April 2018

Top Trumps may be fondly remembered from its original heyday in the playgrounds of the 1970’s and 1980’s.  In the digital era, how has the game ensured its longevity? It appears to have attracted young players by offering a broad range of popular subjects from volcanoes and dinosaurs to bugs and predators. It has further […]

CoD – Call of Duty

9 April 2018

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is responsible for environmental protection and food production – covering both agriculture and fishing. Defra covers arguably the two most nationally sensitive and certainly well publicised links between the UK and the EU, the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy. Defra also oversees £3bn […]

Made in Britain

3 April 2018

‘Rules of Origin’ might sound like the sequel to ‘Game of Thrones’ but with under a year to go to the Brexit Article 50 deadline could prove significant. It is effectively how you define where a product comes from and whether we can say ‘Made in Britain’. For some industries, this could prove quite a […]

Trade War, What is it Good For?

26 March 2018

Absolutely Nothing! The global economy is growing nicely. Having done their job, central banks are starting to withdraw previous stimulus measures and some have embarked on the longer-term path to normalising interest rates. Central banks have to manage inflation, but not choke off growth, given the high level of global debt. Their challenge has suddenly […]

A Toxic Atmosphere

19 March 2018

MPs have demanded an end to the UK’s ‘poisonous air’ in an unprecedented report from four Commons Committees. The Environment, Health, Transport and Environment Audit Committees want a new Clean Air Act along with a clean air fund financed by the transport industry. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders have responded, by saying that […]

Bring on the Clowns

12 March 2018

US President Donald Trump is in the eye of a storm – ‘Stormy’ Daniels. However, it’s not just the US ‘actress’ that is stormy or that Donald Trump is provoking a legal fight with. In a calculated move, Trump has raised the spectre of a trade war by implementing a 25% tariff on steel imports […]

Donald, the Pest from the West

5 March 2018

Emma and the ‘Beast from the East’ caused havoc across most parts of the UK. On one hand it has seen great community spirit with 4×4 drivers taking nurses to hospitals and people handing out hot drinks and food to drivers stranded in their cars. On the other hand, despite the herculean efforts of gritting […]

A Taste of Things to Come?

26 February 2018

#Chickengate A lack of chickens is a serious issue for a company whose business model relies on selling fried chicken! Delivery problems meant that at the peak of the chicken crisis, more than 600 KFC outlets were forced to close last week, while others offered a reduced menu or shortened hours. KFC recently switched its […]

Political Own Goals

19 February 2018

As the FA sells off the latest batch of broadcasting rights to Premier League matches, we look at the politics of business. In the UK, there is still a chance that divisions within the Conservative party could lead to another leadership contest. Would this in turn lead to another general election? In its shift to […]

An American Dream or an 8th Wonder?

12 February 2018

If Trump manages the US economy like his former Atlantic Casino, then, then we all have a problem. Last year, Channel 4 aired a critical 4-part documentary about Donald Trump’s life. In summary, a ‘story of audacious deals, enormous gambles, catastrophic misjudgements, wives, mistresses, ego, dynastic ambitions, politics and celebrity’. This included the collapse of […]


5 February 2018

‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics’. In the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has recently admitted it had made mistakes in the way it had measured the telecoms sector between 2010 and 2015. The Deputy Chief Economist for the ONS, highlighted just how far the current statistics could […]

A Clear and Present Danger

29 January 2018

The world remains a dangerous place with ongoing geo-political tension in the Korean peninsula and fighting in many parts of the Middle East.  In addition, there is China’s build-up in the South China Sea disturbing smaller neighbours and Russian military training exercises making former eastern-bloc countries increasingly uneasy. Increased Russian spy plane and submarine activity […]

Turning the Tide on Plastic

22 January 2018

New York City has filed a lawsuit against five major oil companies – BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell –  to recoup money spent on protecting the City from the effect of climate change.  The suit requests a judgement to determine, the current and future costs incurred by the city and what […]

Pushing Buttons

15 January 2018

2018 looks as it is starting where 2017 ended, with President Donald Trump pushing the buttons. Cancelling his high-profile visit to London, a suggested pay off to an ‘adult entertainer’, defending racist accusations, and of course tweets about North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un. Trump has tweeted ‘Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger and more powerful one than his, and my Button works’. Latterly, North Korea has agreed to send a delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, in February. The North and South have also agreed to hold military talks to defuse border tension.

2018…. What Does the Future Hold?

8 January 2018

2018 will see some important milestones, most notably the 100th anniversary of end of the Great War. In addition, for the UK, it will be the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the NHS. In the field of entertainment, it will mark Led Zeppelin’s 50th anniversary.  In sport, 2018 will see the Winter Olympic Games […]

Reindeer, Gorillas & Unicorns

18 December 2017

With the festive season finally here, retailers have revealed the top selling toys. The biggest seller this Christmas appears to be unicorns! This could well be due to the success of the 3D computer-animated comedy film series Despicable Me. Why is a unicorn special? Well, ‘it’s so fluffy’.

50,000 Shades of Debt

11 December 2017

The University of Bristol has submitted an outline planning application for its new £300m city centre campus which will transform the landmark seven-acre site next to Bristol Temple Meads railway station. The campus will include a new £43m Quantum Technologies Information Centre as well as an innovation hub based on the successful Engine Shed, with the aim of helping more start-up businesses. When opened in 2021, some 3,500 students will be catered for initially with teaching and research focused on digital technologies.

Anti Social Behaviour

4 December 2017

Most of us might be surprised to learn that Tencent, a Chinese technology company, recently surpassed sector behemoth, Facebook in market capitalisation terms, making it the world’s most valuable social media company. Passing $500bn mark, it is the first Chinese technology company to join an elite group dominated by the US internet businesses.  Tencent is not only bigger than any FTSE 100 constituent, it is actually larger than the top three index constituents – combined.

Making Tracks

27 November 2017

Investing in our transport infrastructure is vital to the UK to attract inward investment and compete in the world following Brexit. In case you haven’t noticed, ‘we have one of the most reliable railways in Europe’*. However, passenger numbers have doubled over the last 20 years and the rail network is currently creaking. To compound matters, passenger numbers are forecast to double again, over the next 25 years.

*Source: Network Rail

A Blue Planet, but for how long?

20 November 2017

Blue Planet II is a reminder (if we needed one) of how precious our oceans are. It is captivating viewing, but a reminder that water is a precious commodity and that we need a greater global commitment on pollution – notably plastics. In the UK, every person uses approximately 150 litres of water a day. If you take into account the water that is needed to produce the food and products you consume or use in your day-to-day life, known as embedded water, we actually consume a staggering 3,400 litres – per day.

Magic Island Maker

13 November 2017

China has launched a new dredging ship capable of creating islands, such as those Beijing has already built in the disputed South China Sea. The ‘Tian Kun Hao’ has been dubbed the ‘magic island maker’ by Chinese state media. According to the designers, it is the largest dredger in Asia and can dig 6,000 cubic metres an hour, the equivalent of three standard swimming pools from 35 metres below the surface of the sea. China’s Belt and Road initiative is seeking to revive Silk Road trade routes, linking China with Africa and Europe. This includes developing a number of ports in the Indian Ocean and the Middle East and the ‘Tian Kun Hao’ could be used in deep water port construction.

Fourth Industrial Revolution

6 November 2017

We are on the brink of a fourth industrial revolution or 4IR, bringing together the benefits of robotics, 3D printing and artificial intelligence. Siemens UK, Rolls Royce, GKN, IBM and other manufacturers along with academics from the universities of Cambridge and Newcastle have produced a report to help the government’s industrial strategy plans.

A New Age of Piracy?

30 October 2017

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has reported a total of 121 recorded incidents of maritime piracy and robbery in the year-to-date. At present, pirates seem to be very active in the Gulf of Aden and Indian ocean, off the Somali coast, and in the strait of Malacca. However, could shipping be facing an even greater threat from ‘cyber piracy’ given the increasing use of computers in shipping control and navigation?

Is Tax to Become a Generation Game?

23 October 2017

With only a month to go to the Budget, embattled Chancellor Philip Hammond is apparently planning to promote ‘intergenerational fairness’. Tax breaks could be offered to the newly influential younger generation, paid for by cutting reliefs for older and better off workers. Risking the wrath of the Party, the policy, which has been dubbed ‘tax on age’, could prove controversial as it is likely to target voters who typically might be expected to vote Conservative and would follow the poorly thought through ‘dementia tax’, that contributed to the disastrous election result. A cut in pension tax relief has latterly been mooted. This does highlight the challenge for politicians to address the gulf between older and younger voters that emerged during the EU referendum and General Election.

In the Eye of a Storm

16 October 2017

As we sit here reading about Ophelia, 30 years on from the great storm of ’87, Theresa May is heading off to Brussels in an attempt to resolve a Brexit deadlock. If only all her troubles could be resolved so easily. Our accident-prone PM is limping along, but has found herself in the eye of a storm – of her own making. Having botched a general election that she did not need to call, her popularity has plummeted, unfortunately she also fluffed her key party conference speech, due to a coughing fit and fell ‘victim’ to a prankster with a P45. On the face of it, Cabinet ministers have rallied around her, for now. Surely, the Conservative Party does not have the appetite for another leadership contest? More likely, in the midst of a power vacuum, who sees themselves as a unifying leader? Is it time for bungling Boris Johnson to make a move?

Don’t Bank On It

9 October 2017

Europe’s largest carmakers have more than doubled the amount of lending on their Balance Sheets since the financial crisis with the growing use of credit in car sales. Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler and Renault are estimated to have €400bn of exposure to loans and leases to support car sales by providing attractive lending options to customers. The finance arms of the car manufacturers, many of which have banking licences, fund their lending through deposits and corporate bond issuance as well as complex securitisation, where loans are packaged up and sold to investors. Remind anyone of an earlier credit bubble?

Putting the Wind up Nuclear

2 October 2017

The economic case for renewable energy in the UK has recently been given a boost as an auction to provide electricity from offshore wind farms proved cheaper than nuclear power for the first time. The price of electricity guaranteed to developers of new offshore wind power farms for 2022-23 has dropped to £57.50 per megawatt hour. The latest strike price for offshore wind, which is guaranteed for 15 years and rises with inflation, is substantially lower than the £92.50 per megawatt hour for the new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, which is also inflation linked and has been secured for 35 years.

I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony)*

25 September 2017

The world remains a dangerous place and besides the ever- present terror threat, there is ongoing military tension with North Korea continuing to launch missiles and ongoing unease between Ukraine and Russia. Sanctions have been imposed on Russia, whose submarine and aircraft patrol activity seems to be as high as that seen during the Cold War. In the Pacific, China is turning into a major naval power to rival the US navy and is already in dispute with a number of neighbouring countries over the Spratly Islands.

Bye-Bye PPI

18 September 2017

The UK’s financial services regulator, the FCA, have enlisted the help of Hollywood legend and former Governor of the California, Arnold Schwarzenegger to draw the public’s attention to the ending of the PPI miss-selling claims – August 2019. Featuring an animatronic model head of Arnie, somewhat reminiscent of his acting roles, this is the latest in the annoying PPI related adverts that we have suffered over the years. Interestingly the eye-catching £42m bill is being met by the 18 institutions with the most PPI complaints.

It’s an Ill Wind

11 September 2017

When it comes to the causes of hurricanes such as Harvey and Irma, climate change is not a smoking gun. However, according to the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, a hotter atmosphere holds more moisture. For every degree in warming, the atmosphere can hold 7% more water. This tends to make rainfall events more extreme when they occur. The waters of the Gulf of Mexico are currently estimated to be about 1.5 degrees warmer than between 1980-2010 according to the Grantham Institute for Climate Change.

Premier Stars

4 September 2017

One thing that caught our attention over the summer was the record amount spent by Premier League clubs during the transfer window. According to data from Deloitte, the 20 clubs spent a record £1.2bn on players.  Manchester United paid Everton an initial £75m for striker Romelu Lukaku, while Chelsea paid Real Madrid £70m for Alvaro Morata. Record broadcast, commercial and matchday revenues have enabled Premier league clubs to splash out on new talent.

Red Fire

29 August 2017

Japan is reported to be preparing to repel an invasion. Given the latest news on missile tests many of you might suspect from North Korea, but the Japanese are actually preparing for an invasion from red fire ants. The South American invader has been found in shipping containers at a number of Japanese ports. Red […]

Binge TV

21 August 2017

According to Ofcom, we are overdosing our TV viewing. However, technology is transforming how we watch our TV. Whilst we are spending less actual time watching live broadcasts, nearly 80% of us now makes use of catch up services like BBC iPlayer or streaming services such as Netflix. Watching our favourite programmes when it suits […]

Time to splash the cash?

14 August 2017

  Moody’s, the credit rating agency, estimates that non-financial US companies are holding record cash levels – over $1.8trillion in fact. This is about two-and-a-half times the level of cash held back in the financial crisis of 2008, unfortunately 70% of this amount is being held overseas. Technology companies such as Apple, Google owner Alphabet, […]

Real life Monopoly?

7 August 2017

While we haven’t seen a giant silver top hat, an old boot or a Scottie dog on the streets of London, are foreign investors playing a real-life game of Monopoly in our capital city? A number of trophy buildings on London’s skyline are now either owned by foreign investors or have recently been acquired by […]

To Boldly Go…

31 July 2017

As regular readers will observe, we love a good space themed story… Luxembourg’s asteroid mining law takes effect tomorrow. As a result, the first commercial mission to harvest mineral resources from asteroids could be launched within five years. Luxembourg’s government is working on a joint mission with two US space research companies, to prospect for […]

We Need More Power!

24 July 2017

Fans of the original Star Trek TV series will fondly recall Scotty’s reply to Captain Kirk, whenever he ordered the engine room of the USS Enterprise to increase speed: ‘I can’t do it Captain. I don’t have the power!’ Could we all one day end up like the Enterprise? Energy production from coal-fired power stations […]

Game of Drones

17 July 2017

  This week in ‘Game of Drones’ we are revisiting a previous theme of Alpha Bites, drones and it just happens to coincide with one of our all-time favourite TV series. The battle for the seven kingdoms is about to reach its climax as the premier of the new and final series of Game of […]

Hot, hot, hot

10 July 2017

  It’s not just us Brits that are becoming obsessed with the heat. The recent record-breaking heatwave in the UK, which saw the hottest day since 1976, made us grateful for an air conditioned office. Air conditioning was invented by a young American engineer, Willis Carrier in 1902. By 1980, America was using half of […]


4 July 2017

A British company has announced its intention to launch a new constellation of Earth observation satellites. Earth-i is planning to launch a prototype satellite later this year for testing, with the expectation of a further five platforms to follow in 2019. The satellites will deliver rapid high-resolution imagery of the planet in still and video […]

Rumble in the Jungle

26 June 2017

When an 800-pound gorilla has you in its sights, it is time to be worried. Amazon.Com was founded in 1994, but by 2015 had already overtaken the largest US retailer Walmart by market value. It is currently the fourth most valuable public company in the world and largest internet company by revenue. It is the […]

Nuclear fallout

19 June 2017

Three Mile Island, the power plant that was the site of America’s worst civil nuclear accident could be shut down in 2019 – 15 years before its operating licence expires. The planned closure is a sign of the increased competition from cheap gas-fired power generation as a result of the US shale oil and gas […]

Be Careful What You Wish For

13 June 2017

Strong and Stable – a tag that will forever haunt PM Theresa May. Having called a snap general election on the mandate of a ‘strong and stable leadership’, Theresa May’s seemingly low-risk decision has spectacularly backfired, with her party failing to win a majority and leaving the country in political turmoil. A combination of policy […]

Cloudy with a chance of some sunshine

12 June 2017

What a classic own goal! PM Theresa May undertook the gamble of an election to further increase her majority heading into Brexit negotiations and lost badly. The UK now has a ‘hung parliament’. Brexit talks are due to start on June 19th, but realistically nothing is likely to be addressed until after the German election […]

Mind The Gap

5 June 2017

  Politicians fighting for our votes later this week say they represent ‘ordinary hard working people’. With record numbers of people in work in the UK, we thought it was interesting to look at the current structure of the British workforce. About 30% are estimated to work in public administration, education and the health service. […]

Three Tenners

5 June 2017

On 18th July, the Bank of England will mark the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, by unveiling the new £10 note featuring the renowned writer. The new polymer £10 note will be issued in September 2017. Oddly, in a digital age with the rise of electronic payment methods, the value of notes and coins in […]

Can additive manufacturing help us win the America’s Cup?

22 May 2017

3D or not 3D? (with apologies to Shakespeare). That is the question; many manufacturers are no doubt currently asking themselves.  Additive manufacturing (AM) or 3D printing could be transformational for supply chains globally.  AM appears to be on the cusp of moving from batch trial testing, into full-scale commercial production. 3D printing is progressing into […]

Brexit fallout

15 May 2017

Work has finally commenced in Somerset on the construction of the Hinkley C nuclear power plant. The £20bn project, will be the UK’s first nuclear power station built since the 1990s. While nuclear power is seen by some as a potential ‘green’ energy solution to the problem of generating sufficient non-carbon power, it does generate […]

Burying your head in the sand

8 May 2017

A historic weekend in France. Emmanuel Macron is their youngest leader since Napoleon. Local lad and renowned artist #Banksy, appears to have got the current political tone spot on, with his latest work on display in Dover. Talking of sand… Land makes up 29% of the earth’s surface, but of this about 33% is desert. […]

Mountains of wealth under the ocean

2 May 2017

Tropic Seamount. No, not a hot favourite running tomorrow at Ascot, but an underwater mountain in the Atlantic Ocean, 300 miles from the Canary Islands, that is believed to contain rare earth minerals. The seamount is some 1,000 metres below sea level and has a thin coating of minerals across its surface. Samples recovered from […]

A greener shipping lane

24 April 2017

Sulphur dioxide is produced during combustion of fossil fuels and is a toxic atmospheric pollutant. ‘Ultra-low sulphur’ diesel has been available for road vehicles for over a decade. New global pollution rules are due to come into force in 2020, requiring shipping companies to use fuel with significantly lower sulphur content. Shipping diesel can contain […]

Alpha Election Special!

19 April 2017

Snap! Theresa May must have been studying recent polling data with the Conservative Party on 42% and the Labour Party on 27%. This fact, together with attempted opposition party meddling in her Brexit negotiation process, has forced her to ‘call their hand’, with a snap general election on June 8th. Sterling has perked up on […]

The magnificent seven

18 April 2017

  No, not Yul Brynner or Steve McQueen, but Emma Walmsley and Alison Cooper. The FTSE 100 now has seven companies with a female chief executive officer (CEO). The seven companies are EasyJet, Imperial Brands, Royal Mail, Severn Trent, Kingfisher, Whitbread and GlaxoSmithKline. However, four of these are relatively recent appointments since 2014. Furthermore, women […]

Size matters!

10 April 2017

  MV Hammonia Grenada was built in 2010 at a cost of £37m. Some seven years later, it is the youngest ever container ship being sold for scrap, with an estimated price of just £4.4m. Why? The globalisation of trade and central bank low interest rate policy of recent years led the container shipping industry […]


4 April 2017

  With the Brexit process now formally underway the Government is going to have its hands pretty full. Nonetheless, it still intends to press ahead with much of its existing UK legislation plans. One of these plans is the introduction of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (Sugar tax or Levy) on soft drinks. The UK […]

Who is driving things?

27 March 2017

No, not Brexit, but driverless cars. The introduction of autonomous vehicles has the potential to revolutionise urban transport and could be on the streets, as soon as 2020. US chip maker Intel has recently announced the $15bn takeover of Israeli sensor business Mobileye.

Are we missing the point?

20 March 2017

China is sending rockets into space, manufacturing high-speed trains and many of the world’s leading electronic products. However, until now, there is one bit of engineering that has eluded China: the tip of the ballpoint pen! Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, while appearing on national television, complained about the country’s inability to produce their own, quality […]

Lovely Bubbly

13 March 2017

  The UK’s thirst for sparkling wine continues to grow. Indeed, UK drinkers of Prosecco, are estimated to drink more than two and a half times the amount the Italians consume! Some will no doubt cheer the triggering of Article 50 with a glass of bubbly. However, Brexit will come with a ‘sting in the […]

Slap, bang, wallop…

6 March 2017

Are you a slapper, banger, walloper, shaker or squeezer? Admit it, whether its toothpaste, glue or sauce, we all like to get that last little bit out the bottom of the tube or bottle to get our money’s worth. However, no matter how much you try there always seems to be a small amount that […]

Feeling Battered?

27 February 2017

Ever since ‘Marmite-gate’, caused a dispute between Unilever and Tesco in October last year, food prices have progressively risen and has been a key ingredient in building UK inflationary pressures in the UK.

Cornish Li

20 February 2017

In the popular BBC series ‘Poldark,’ Ross Poldark tries to build his fortune on copper and tin mining in Cornwall. Sadly, for him he was potentially sitting on something that today is far more valuable, lithium (Li).

An anti-social order

13 February 2017

Love him or loathe him, controversial US President, Donald Trump continues to dominate our media.

Just another brick in the wall

6 February 2017

One of Donald Trump’s election ‘pledges’ was to build a wall between the US and Mexico, thereby provoking a major diplomatic spat with Mexico. Openly mocked at the time as shock politics, it is hardly surprising the arrival of President Trump has created market jitters. He can’t be so controversial, surely?

Who cares?

30 January 2017

The annual ‘winter crisis’ in the NHS, has once again highlighted an underlying problem – the nation’s age demographics.

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