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Intrakat’s successful €100 million share capital increase

Intrakat’s vice-president and managing director talks to Vima about the next day for the group, following its successful €100 million share capital increase. He announces acquisitions, dynamic activities in renewable energy and does not neglect to mention large projects such as the concession of the Attica Road.

Mr. Exarchou also emphasizes the excellent relationship that exists among Intrakat’s main shareholders, noting that “it is the strongest card for the company’s course”.

Mr. Exarchou, you took the helm of Intrakat at a difficult time for the construction company. What was the (listed) company’s image when Winex went public?

  • “Intrakat has always been a company with significant growth potential and great know-how and experience in the construction industry. Our decision to invest was based on the company’s track record and the prospects we saw for it with the right strategy and support. Indeed, when we joined the company as a major shareholder, it was a period where Intrakat was falling short of its targets and its operating results had been compressed. Let’s not forget that the significant price increases in raw materials and energy, as well as, the cost of accelerating projects that had been delayed during the pandemic, affected the group’s results, as well as the industry in general. As a new shareholder and new management, we made a quick decision and swiftly implemented a comprehensive operational and management restructuring plan, which unlocked the value that the company had inside and gave it the breath, support and strategic direction it needed, in order to advance dynamically”.

The increase of 100 million euros in the share capital was successfully completed, since it was approved by the General Assembly of Shareholders. Where will the raised funds be allocated?

  • “We are particularly satisfied with the successful increase of the share capital by 100 million euros and for the trust and support of our shareholders. We carried out one of the largest IPOs that have been done in recent years and not only in this particular industry, and I warmly thank -once again- all the shareholders who participated in our development plan. We are building a new Intrakat, which is extroverted in its investments and competitive in modern terms in all areas of its activity. We want to build a strong foundation at Intrakat, and that’s what we’re doing now, relying on our own engineers (we’re already hiring), our own machinery and know-how, and less on subcontractors, which are certainly important, but they have to play a supporting role. The relationship among the shareholders is an essential component of the company’s progress and it is certainly one of Intrakat’s strengths – the excellent relations between the main shareholders. As the new main shareholder and new management, we have envisioned Intrakat as a leading group in SE Europe and this is the strategic goal that we support and serve. Now, following the share capital increase, the company has more than 140 million in equity and proportionately very little debt, which allows it to access financing, should it be required, in order to participate in large infrastructure development projects. Very soon you will hear from us on the acquisition front, as we evaluate investment opportunities in construction – infrastructure, in RES, in PPPs and concessions, but also in the sectors of waste management and real estate, which we have entered dynamically. Of the 100 million euros of the increase, we estimate that 50 million will be invested in acquisitions, while the rest will be used as working capital.”

One of the sectors which Intrakat attaches special importance to, is the ‘Renewable Energy Sources’ sector. You have announced the preparation of a bond issue of 120 million euros. How is this process going?

  • “RES already play an important role in energy self-sufficiency, as well as in sustainable development. We see this as an area where Intrakat can grow strategically and create a strong footprint with stable cash flows, both in clean energy generation and storage, and is -therefore- our investment priority. We already have a portfolio of 1.8GW (1,000MW wind farms and 800MW solar) and 0.7GW electricity storage projects, which we expect to generate positive cash flows by 2023. As far as the bond issue is concerned, we are at an advanced stage of negotiations with the cooperating banks, our goal is to proceed with a dynamic investment plan until 2024 and we believe that it will have the appropriate financing”.

In our country, the procedures for the development of offshore wind farms are also opening. Your company, along with the Belgian Parkwind has announced its participation in the upcoming tenders. How many Megawatts will you claim?

  • “Offshore wind farms are a great opportunity for Greece to increase its production of ‘green’ energy and we are glad that the state has worked in this direction by facilitating the procedures for their development. It is possible to achieve the national target of producing at least 2 GW of offshore wind power by 2030 and Intrakat’s goal is to claim a leadership position in this sector. Our strategic partner Parkwind has extensive experience in similar projects and will soon have a capacity of more than 1 GW. Accordingly, Intrakat has significant expertise in local infrastructure and we already have 1,000 MW of capacity from wind farm projects.”

Participation in the Attica Road competition is one of Intrakat’s biggest bets. How is the process going when it comes to preparing investors for the final phase of the competition?

  • “As you know, we are participating in the tender as part of a 30% joint venture with Portugal’s BRISA, a European giant with vast experience in managing road networks and motorways. In fact, BRISA’s strength and expertise is mainly in the modernization of highways based on digital technology, which is of utmost importance for the future of highways in our country. Given that the deadline for submission of offers is set for May 29, we are in the final stages of preparation.”

And one last question…

A large ‘pie’ of construction projects is opening up in Greece. What size could Intrakat claim?

“Major construction projects and infrastructure are a priority for us, as we believe that there is no development without modern infrastructure, roads, trains, ports, airports. Our goal is to claim even more projects that will improve public infrastructure and the daily life of citizens, but also the image of Greece as an attractive investment destination. We are planning our participation in projects that will be announced in the period 2023-2024 and will concern our areas of interest. Projects that we can execute well and within the predetermined timeframes and which will contribute to strengthening our position in the sector”.

Computers & Software Pharmaceuticals & Biotech Science Technology

Data Capture in Laboratories: Exploring the Barriers and Ways to Overcome Them

Substantial investments should be made in strategising and combining data from a set of instruments in order to turn a medley of free-floating data points into a coherent, integrated message. 

With that said, failing to automate data collection and standardisation via instrument integration is the biggest bottleneck that causes substantial lag in laboratory operations. 

In a recent article published in European Pharmaceutical Review, Samantha Kanza, a senior enterprise fellow at the University of Southampton, sheds light on the leading challenges of adopting digital technologies in the laboratory data collection process and how to overcome them. 

What Is Data Integration?

Data integration means accumulating datasets from multiple sources and equipment and merging them to get a unified view.

Data integration across the value chain—from discovery all the way through production to commercialisation—is critical to strengthening decision-making. 

Even though the massive troves of data a laboratory generates are a great asset, most of it remains unexploited due to failure to connect data and processes.

Leading Data Integration Challenges

The researcher underscores the lack of data standardisation and data standard saturation as two major roadblocks to laboratory data integration. 

Inconsistent datasets, proprietary data formats, and a lack of compatible instruments are a few of the many barriers worth mentioning.

Let’s dive deeper into the issues with proprietary data formats: 

One of the key aspects of successful data integration is to have all datasets from all sources in the same format (or at least convertible into a single format). 

However, in many cases, data attributes in two different sources may conceptually convey the same information, but the datasets are in two different formats, which are sometimes difficult to convert into a desired format. 

These lexical and structural disparities in datasets may cause unfixable errors or even data loss if data gets integrated without standardising or cleaning.

The Solution

Overcoming data standard issues is paramount to enabling a fully integrated and digitally interconnected laboratory.

The research fellow at the University of Southampton advises laboratories to carefully evaluate the software programs they would leverage while generating data and the file formats these systems support. 

On the other hand, software providers should also ensure their programs don’t use intricate proprietary formats that could hinder data integration, sharing, and reuse.

According to Dr. Kanza, researchers must be provided with specific guidelines on the standard process of data structure to efficiently evade the risk of data inconsistencies. 

On top of that, all datasets generated directly from the instruments should include metadata to ensure effective utilisation.

Electronic Systems Adoption Barriers

For laboratories looking to accelerate their R&D, using Laboratory Information Management Software (LIMS) or Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) as the core part of their research activities is critical. 

Besides enabling instrument integrations for automatic data capture, ELN or LIMS helps automate workflows and ensure efficient management of samples and associated data. 

The result: streamlined operations and quick recognition of bottlenecks across experiments leading to substantially improved efficiency

Despite all the benefits, the adoption of electronic systems in labs has been slow.

Let’s flesh out the reasons:

First off, transitioning away from familiar methods to use a new system may seem challenging for some researchers.

“Whether rightly or wrongly, researchers don’t necessarily trust ELN systems, particularly if they are in the cloud…While trust is important, some of this comes down to a lack of education and understanding on data security coupled with some learned behaviour that needs to be addressed,” explained Dr. Kanza.

Secondly, the scepticism of lab operators about the security of the stored data in cloud-based LIMS or ELN is another leading reason behind the slow adoption rate of LIMS. 

Thirdly, even though digital systems help labs streamline the data capture and management processes, the greatest concern arises when labs aim to leverage these digital systems in their daily operations. The full ELN/LIMS adoption requires buy-in from everyone involved. For some users, the learning curve may seem steeper. 

Overcoming the Electronic System Adoption Challenges

For laboratories looking to address the above challenges and centralise data once siloed in multiple systems to turbocharge their R&D efforts, cashing in on a high-end digital lab notebook like Sapio Sciences is a sensible decision. 

A class-leading ISO-certified system ensures top-notch data security while also offering easy training so that users can get the hang of it in a short time.

On top of that, some high-end integrated LIMS-ELN systems offer automated data capture from instruments via integration that helps minimise experimental redundancy. 

Plus, these systems foster decision-making by enabling interactive visualisation of all data points.

However, digitally transforming a laboratory needs a complete overhaul of lab culture, a change of attitude, and a willingness to learn. 

Besides, before investing in a system, laboratories should evaluate the disparities between the system and their laboratory requirements. Through careful vendor evaluation, they can choose the most profitable compromise between the features offered by a seller and a fully customizable solution. 

Business Computers & Software Marketing & Sales Media & Communications U.S

How a Young Woman Started a $9,500-a-Month Business Selling Digital Products on Etsy

Etsy is a popular store designed to sell products that people have created themselves. When you think of it, you’re more likely to think of handmade jewellery, knitted or crocheted items, paintings, clay modelling stuff, glass items, etc.

You know… trinkets. 

(Can you tell I don’t spend much time on Etsy?)

So, when I came across an article about a woman using her maternity leave to start a $9,500-a-month business on the website, I had to read it.

The first thing that surprised me was that she wasn’t selling those stereotypical products. She was selling printables that she created on Canva.

Rachel Jiminez had a full-time job as the director of alumni engagement at a university. She was also studying on the side—Positive Psychology. Her blog and Etsy store were, in her own words, “side hustles”.

Ms Jiminez explained that her Etsy shop was consistently getting her around $50 a month. She just didn’t have enough time to invest in it. It was when she was on maternity leave with her second child that she started putting work into it. 

In the article, she explains how she built her business.

Tips For Expanding an Etsy Business

According to Ms Jiminez, building her business was a four-step process. Here’s how it started.

Developing the Growth Mindset

When starting your own business, it’s easy to take failure personally. Once you do that, you’ll give up at the first sign of trouble. 

That’s why Ms Jiminez considers the first step of her journey the one where she stopped thinking that she wasn’t good enough and focused on figuring out the problem.

Learning From Others’ Successes

When you’re on a platform like Etsy, you can see how other sellers are performing. Again, it’s likely that you see others doing better than you and feel jealous. 

What Ms Jiminez did with that emotion was to use it to learn from the sellers she perceived as more successful than her.

She says she’d “…study their strategies, devour any podcasts or blog posts they created, and put their tips and recommendations to the test.

Testing and Tweaking Periodically

No matter how well a strategy works for someone else, it’s possible that isn’t suitable for you in the least. When Ms Jiminez saw a strategy failing to deliver, she’d “try to get helpful data” from her failures.

One of the questions she’d ask is whether it was a marketing problem or a product problem. For example, say she had high volumes of traffic to a product page, but not enough conversions. That told her the product wasn’t appealing enough.

On the other hand, if she didn’t have many people visiting the product page, but those who did ended up buying more often than not? That meant she wasn’t marketing it well.

Considering the Customers’ Needs and Wants

Customers tend to vote with their feet. If they don’t like the product, no matter how well you sell it, they won’t buy it. That’s why Ms Jiminez decided to find out exactly what customers were looking for. 

She says she looked for “clues in Facebook Groups and online forums, noticed what was trending in stores, and used tools like Google Trends and Pinterest Trends.” She even used paid tools, such as eRank.

This research helped her identify the problems her customers wanted to solve, which she then used to design her products.

Why Digital Products?

I discussed this in another article about Digital Products UX Trends in 2023 in greater detail but a digital product is any product that is built, delivered, and consumed online. 

As Ms Jiminez explained, “a digital product can be a PDF, a JPEG image, or even an Excel spreadsheet that you make once and profit from forever.

Of course, if you’ve read my previous article on digital product trends, you’d know that it also includes other online consumables like audio files, videos, apps, software, templates, plug-ins, and more.

However, the key point is the latter half of her description… make it once and profit from it forever.

A digital product doesn’t need a warehouse (or a workshop cupboard) to be stored in. You don’t need to ship it physically to a customer. You don’t need to build a copy every time someone orders it.

In short, it doesn’t have much overhead.

How Can You Create Your Own Digital Products For Your Business?

In the article, Ms Jiminez says she used Canva to design both her products as well as her listing images. Other people might use Keynote, PowerPoint, PhotoShop, or Illustrator. Others might use Notion, OneNote, or Excel.

Of course, if you wanted to design a digital product that required more technical knowledge, you might need to hire a digital product development company, like Luminos Software.

It would depend on what you want to design and sell. You might want to do your own research to see what customers want and need. Or, you might have a brilliant idea but you aren’t quite sure how to market it.

Hopefully, Rachel Jiminez’s story will inspire you to give it a go and provide you with enough pointers to get you started on your path to success.

Business Computers & Software Finance Financial Market Technology

Managing API Security Is Essential For the Banking Sector

I recently saw a headline that reported multiple branch closures by Lloyds, Halifax, and TSB. Personally, it didn’t affect me so I didn’t read the article. 

Why would it? I do my banking on my phone.

And, that’s mainly the reason why banks are closing their seldom used branches—people are banking online and not physically walking into banks.

As someone who prefers living online, I am not here to debate the benefits of high streets and banks. What I do want to talk about is the role of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) in modern banking.

According to Express Computer, an Indian IT publication, APIs are spearheading the banking sector’s evolution.

These software programs allow banks to share their data and services with third parties. Third parties, as a result, can improve their services and customer experience.

APIs in Banking

According to the article, banks use APIs both as consumers and publishers.

As consumers, APIs help banks:

  • Automate the customer onboarding process, making it smoother
  • Get real-time information on customer credit-worthiness
  • Make better decisions for loan applications
  • Add value to their core business with investment and financial planning advice
  • Integrate with other services, such as e-commerce stores, and make online payments easier
  • Add other financial products into their range of offerings

As publishers, banks use APIs to reach more customers and diversify their services.

So, yes, the banking sector can thank APIs for a great deal.

However, that brings me to my next point. Since APIs are now an integral part of the banking sector, API security also becomes a larger issue.

I’ve discussed how re-evaluating your cybersecurity stack could help stop API breaches earlier. Then, I came across this post that discusses how identity distribution is essential for modern API security.

What Is Identity Distribution?

APIs enable a network of services that users can access. Once a user is inside that network, from any access point, they can get to any and all information within that network.

Identity distribution is the process of ensuring that the user is authorised to access information, at every point instead of just when they enter.

If you want to think of it in terms of your home security, once a person has entered your house—whether through the front door, back door, or window—they can go through the contents of all your rooms.

Identity distribution is the process of vetting their access and authorization in each room. If they are only allowed to enter the living room, they can’t be let into the master bedroom.

Identity Distribution For API Security in Banking

Identity distribution shouldn’t just take into account who is asking for access. It should also consider the origin of the request, the external application through which the request was sent, and an allow-list of callers.

Unfortunately, this brings up two other issues. 

One, sharing the credentials across the network means everyone who receives those credentials could use them to get the same level of access.

Two, It means distributing the user’s credentials across the network when some of the information might be sensitive. 

In effect, you’re sharing the user’s authorisation credentials (thereby making them available to other services on the network), which also means you’re sharing their information (which could be sensitive).

To mitigate this issue, you’d need proper identity distribution techniques. The technology you use will play a role in how secure the implementation is—that means having a detailed understanding of how your services interact with others and the pathways your users will have to take.

That, in turn, would help determine which services would need what identity data to complete the request.

Additionally, you’d also need to determine what piece of data these services would need to take the authorisation decisions.

Identity Distribution Techniques

Once you know the data that needs to be delivered to other services and who needs it, you can choose from a selection of identity distribution solutions. These can be:

  • Using Transport Layer Security (TLS) end-to-end, even with services within your network, instead of only at the perimeter
  • A locked-down infrastructure, where you control all communications within the network through encrypted connections, and using mutual TLS (mTLS) and frameworks (SPIFFE, Kubernetes) to manage service calls
  • Using established standards like OAuth and JSON web tokens (JWTs) instead of developing your own solutions
  • Using claim-based authorisation instead of using API keys or scopes (because, remember broken authorisation is listed as OWASP’s no.1 API vulnerability, and discussed in an article on API Security Solution by, the leading API management platform)
  • Using opaque tokens instead of JWTs (which can reveal information to the frontend application or threat actors)
  • Using token-sharing techniques, such as token embedding or token exchanging

As you can see, API security is important across the board, but the banking sector is a bit more high-stakes than others. Whilst a security breach can be devastating regardless, banks are responsible for people’s money and savings. 

Investing in better cybersecurity is not just for them but also for their customers. And, API security is going to be a huge part of it.