European Commission takes legal action against AstraZeneca for breach of contracts

  • The European Commission is going to take legal action against the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for breaching the established contracts and not delivering the agreed doses.
  • This was announced on Twitter by Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, who pointed out that “every life counts.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

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The European Commission will take legal action against the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for breaching established contracts and failing to deliver the agreed doses.

This was announced on Twitter by Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, who pointed out that “every life counts”.

The EU executive spokesman on Health, Stefan de Keersmaecker, explained the procedure at a press conference.

“The Commission has initiated legal action against the company AstraZeneca on the basis of breaches of the advance purchase contract,” he said, assuring that the company has not put in place “a reliable strategy to ensure the delivery of the doses.”

Although some wealthy countries are improving, global COVID-19 cases are peaking.

A few days ago it already became known that the body was preparing to take on the company, Reuters reported, and was sounding out member states for support.

The matter was discussed last Wednesday at a meeting with EU diplomats, at which most EU states supportedlegal action, sources confirm to Reuters.

The agency’s intention is to force AstraZeneca to provide the doses set out in the contract.

The conflict between Brussels and AstraZeneca, which have been at loggerheads since the beginning of the pandemic due to the pharmaceutical company’s inability to deliver the agreed doses, is thus accentuated.

After successive delays in supplies, the company finally announced that it will be able to deliver some 100 million doses to the EU in the first 6 months of 2021, a figure considerably lower than the 270 million initially agreed.

The race for the next generation of coronavirus vaccines is already underway

The tension with pharmaceuticals has sparked a wave of vaccine nationalism and has pitted the European Union against other countries, especially the United Kingdom and the United States.

The European Union’s intention to cut ties with AstraZeneca became clear when it became known a few weeks ago that the EC might not renew contracts with the pharmaceutical company for the coming year, a decision that would also affect Johnson & Johnson.

“The European Commission, in agreement with the leaders of many countries, has decided that contracts with companies producing adenovirus vaccines valid for the current year will not be renewed upon expiration,” the Italian daily La Stampa reported, citing a source in the Italian Ministry of Health.

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CCOO proposes to raise wages by 1.5% this year and between 2% and 3% from 2022 in the dialogue for the collective bargaining agreement.

  • CCOO proposes to raise salaries by 1.5% in 2021 and between 2% and 3% in 2022 and 2023 and recover the salary review clauses to shield the increases agreed by agreement when the recovery takes hold, according to La Información .
  • The unions call on the employers to begin negotiating the fifth interconfederal collective bargaining agreement, in which they will discuss the recovery of the purchasing power of salaries.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

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The social agents are starting to move to try to seek new consensus on employment legislation, after closing their eighth Social Dialogue agreement with the so-called riders’ law and starting negotiations on changes to the labor reform in the middle of last month. As part of the latter negotiation, the unions have already called on employers to discuss a new agreement on collective bargaining, which will be in force until 2023.

Within the debate for the fifth interconfederal collective bargaining agreement, CCOO has already presented its first proposals for the revaluation of wages, in which it advocates a fixed rise of 1.5% this year that would increase between 2% and 3% in 2022 and 2023, in addition to recovering the wage review clauses once the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic has been consolidated, as the union has assured La Información.

Spain, among the EU countries where a worker is cheaper, despite the fact that the hourly labor cost has increased by 1 euro during 2020.

This agreement is one of the pending issues that the Ministry of Labor must close over the coming months in terms of employment and CCOO and UGT have already begun their round of contacts to study the presentation of a joint platform for negotiation and have called on the employers to resume their meetings to seek a consensus on the wage revaluation by agreement, according to the digital newspaper.

In fact, during the pandemic, wage increases agreed in collective bargaining agreements were a third lower than before the coronavirus, with an average annual increase of 1.3% around July 2020 that was 32% below what was agreed in February of that year. Meanwhile, in March 2021, wages agreed in collective bargaining agreements rose by an average of 1.58%, improving by just over 1 tenth of a percentage point on January’s figures and exceeding the CPI increase of 1.3%, according to Cinco Días.

However, the average rise per agreement in March falls short of the targets set in the fourth interconfederal agreement for collective bargaining, approved in 2018 and valid until the end of 2020, which established wage improvements of 2%, to which it added an additional 1% linked to the company’s results, productivity performance and absenteeism.

The unions have shown themselves in favor of offering wage margin to companies in sectors particularly affected by the coronavirus, according to La Información, which assures that UGT has not presented a proposal for a rise like that of CCOO and that its objectives are to create and maintain employment, continue with the revaluation of the lowest wages and recover the purchasing power of the workers to support the recovery.

The CEOE, for its part, is committed to linking wage improvements to productivity, while the UGT criticizes the employers’ refusal to engage in dialogue, causing conflicts in collective bargaining, according to the newspaper, which points out that company representatives refuse to discuss wages while more than 600,000 workers are still on ERTE (temporary lay-offs).

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Apple Glasses could turn any surface into a touch screen thanks to augmented reality

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Despite the launch of the Google Glass project a few years ago, smart glasses are still a world to be explored, and with the advent of virtual reality and augmented reality, this type of product may take on a totally different dimension than imagined a few years ago.

Apple has already had several winks referring to possible smart glasses, the Apple Glasses, of which there are not many certainties, but that point to become a reality at some point in the near future, and that are still an unknown in some ways.

However, it seems that little by little some clues about this interesting product are coming to light. In this case, as Patently Apple has revealed , the company could use Thermal Touch technology in its Apple Glasses that would turn virtually any flat surface into a touch screen with augmented reality with which users could interact.

This technology would use information provided by infrared to “create” such touch screens on any surface, as shown in the following video from iamtechy. Note, however, that this video dates from 2014, so the interface will have improved significantly.

As you can see, this is a technology that allows you to interact with the environment in augmented reality, and that interprets surfaces differently to offer the user a specific way to use them. As shown in the video, a flat surface can be interpreted as a chessboard, but also as a keyboard or a piano, for example.

Apple presents AirTags, its device for easily locating objects in the same room.

The US company would include 15 cameras in the device, 8 for augmented reality, 6 for biometrics and a camera for environmental detection. Although the data reflected in the patents registered by Apple may not be applied in the final product. It is something that will only be possible to verify when the company presents -if it ever does- its smart glasses.

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The danger of overconsumption of energy drinks: a young man drank 4 cans a day for 2 years and ended up in the ICU with multiple symptoms.

  • A 21-year-old was transferred to the ICU for heart failure after drinking 4 cans of energy drinks a day for 2 years.
  • A second examination revealed that the young man also suffered from indigestion, tremors, and heart palpitations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

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Energy drinks are said to keep you alert and attentive, but they can pose a danger.

This is revealed in a publication by British Medical Journalwhich has brought to light what happens if you drink 4 energy drinks every day for 2 years.

The article explains the case of a 21-year-old young man who has been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy due to the continuous intake of such energy drinks. Specifically, the young man consumed 4 half-liter cans a day, that is, 2 liters a day of these popular drinks.

According to official data from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), 68 % of adolescents (10 to 18 years old) in the EU consume them. Among them, 12% have a “chronic high” consumption of 7 liters per month, and another 12% have a “high acute” consumption.

The patient was transferred from the emergency room to the intensive care unit of a hospital after 4 months of worsening symptoms: shortness of breath when lying down and weight loss, reports 20 minutes.

The symptoms did not stop there and, according to the media, a second examination revealed that the young man also suffered from indigestion, tremors and heart palpitations. After undergoing various tests, it was learned that the patient was also suffering from heart and kidney failure .

“This experience was extremely traumatic for several reasons. First, he was suffering from delirium, he had memory problems to such an extent that he could not remember why he was in the ICU. Second, I was constantly scared because I was struggling to move or speak, this eventually led to insomnia. I would often get frustrated when I couldn’t think of the words to say when I wanted something and this made me feel overwhelmed by emotions such as anxiety and depression,” the young man stated.

High dose of caffeine

Each can of energy drink contains about 160 milligrams of caffeine, bringing the young man’s daily intake to 640 milligrams of caffeine, well above the acceptable amount for an adult (400 milligrams of caffeine which is equivalent to 4 to 5 cups of coffee) according to EFSA.

10 tricks to stay awake without caffeine, according to science

From this dose onwards, problems related to the central nervous system such as interrupted sleep, anxiety, arrhythmias and changes in behavior can appear, notes The World.

According to the same media, excessive caffeine consumption has been linked to cardiomyopathy, whereby the heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump blood to the rest of the body.

On the other hand, these types of beverages increase blood pressure and can cause heart rhythm problems.

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Kiwi.com expects to be one of the winners of the tourism turnaround thanks to its patented algorithm

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Kiwi.com‘s proprietary algorithm, Virtual Interlining, allows users to combine flights and ground transportation from more than 800 operators, including many that don’t normally cooperate with each other. This gives them the ability to provide customers with cheap flights that other search engines simply cannot see.

According to Mario Gavira, the platform’s vice president of growth, this is going to benefit them to come out stronger from a crisis that has been hitting the travel industry hard for more than a year.

Kiwi.com was born 7 years ago to differentiate itself from traditional platforms, which involves generating unique content that can only be found on its platform.

From there they went on to combine their flight itineraries with ground transportation itineraries into one. “We can make a single reservation for a client to go from London to Benidorm, using various means of transport,” says Gavira in an interview with Business Insider Spain.

Gavira, who took up his post in January and has more than 20 years of experience in the industry, was managing director for France at Edreams Odigeo and, most recently, managing director of Europe’s leading multimodal metasearch engine, Liligo.com.

Now, the expert talks to Business Insider Spain about what lies ahead for the industry, and especially for Kiwi.com, when travel returns to normal.

Every crisis is also an opportunity

“The pandemic was a huge blow for the whole industry and like any other player, especially in the airline industry, we had a dramatic drop in sales, especially in the first wave when our sales fell by 95%,” he recalls.

Faced with that slump, the platform began to take measures to ensure its survival: they cut costs as much as possible and made sure they had enough cash to survive for as long as possible.

“We didn’t have any major layoffs because most of our employees are in the Czech Republic and there were subsidies there that allowed us to be flexible and keep our employees.”

Kiwi.com records more than 100 million searches a day and employs 2,000 people worldwide. Of these, 30 are based in Barcelona.

Ingredients to stay afloat

“We foresee that there will, unfortunately, be some players that will not survive or will have to merge with others, but others are going to emerge stronger and at Kiwi, we have all the ingredients to make it.”

As a global player, Kiwi.com benefits from each country’s different rates of vaccination for recovery. For example, as he points out, traffic in the US is still very active, although not as much as at pre-pandemic levels.

“Because we are an ambitious company, we believe that every crisis is also an opportunity. We have started working very aggressively on improving our product both at the content level and improving the capabilities to promote an application that is more comprehensive so that when tourism comes back again we can benefit from that,” he notes. Twenty-five percent of the employees are engineers working on improving the product.

On the other hand, there is no doubt that this crisis has accelerated digitalization. This, according to the expert, will mean that traditional players based in physical offices will suffer more if they have not managed to transform themselves and offer a product that is on par with what pure online players can offer.

Despite this, Gavira points out, the pre-crisis financial strength of each company also plays an important role, and this is another point in Kiwi.com’s favor. The platform has “very important” financial support from General Atlantic (a U.S. growth capital firm that has also bet on big players such as Airbnb), which invested in the company in 2019 and bet on them as a “winning horse” in the world of tourism.

“We have all the cards to come out on top and become one of the major players in online travel the future,” he says.

In 2019, the company had a turnover of 1.3 million euros, according to its website, but Gavira does not reveal figures for the results of the worst year for the sector, although he notes that they expect to recover the same level of turnover prior to the pandemic in the summer of 2022.

Star trends

As they focus on preparing for the recovery and maximizing their technological potential “to be one of the winners in this tourism turnaround,” they are keeping an eye on the trends that will shape the future of travel.

Post-COVID tourists will be even more demanding: these will be the star trends in 2021, according to top industry executives

“There is another challenge that I think after this crisis is going to be more important, which is sustainability,” he notes.

Air transport is one of the most polluting industries and, according to Gavira, being a multimodal player that offers greener transport alternatives (such as buses), gives them an advantage.

On the other hand, the future of tourism is inconceivable without technology.

We are great believers in artificial intelligence. Our ability to combine 20 billion possible itineraries a day requires algorithms that allow us to process all that massive amount of data. We are a beneficiary of this technology and we are obviously applying it more and more to the whole process,” he says.

As for blockchain, Gavira explains that they are not investing aggressively, although they are studying it.“If cryptocurrency becomes democratized, it may be a form of payment that we offer in the near future.”

2 out of 3 people believe they will be able to travel before the summer

“The search volume has increased sharply for summer. We see that there is a willingness and desire to travel again. When you reach a certain percentage of vaccination, people start looking for flights because they see the end of the tunnel and start dreaming,” he says.

According to a survey of global citizens conducted by Kiwi.com in February, 67.4% of international travelers are optimistic about the future of the industry and believe they will be able to travel in the next six months. In addition, 79.6% of participants would be willing to get vaccinated if it would allow them to travel sooner. In fact, 62.5% say they plan to travel more in a post-pandemic scenario than before.

Kiwi.com’s goal is to be prepared for when this happens.

“When the skies open up, my main goal is to get Kiwi in a position to be able to maximize its technology and be as present as possible in the consumer’s mind to be able to sell as much as possible and generate significant growth,” he says.

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Plum lands in Spain: this is how the fintech that wants to save for you works

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He wanted to create an app to help save that was almost as easy as hitting a button. This was Victor Trokoudes’ idea for founding Plum, a British fintech that is now making the leap to other European markets after raising an €8.4 million funding round.

Trokoudes is a well-known figure in the fintech world. He was one of the first 5 employees of Transferwise, another British fintech that revolutionized international transfers by lowering their cost for customers and that, after 10 years of activity, has just changed its name to Wise.

Trokoudes was its director of international and banking, the position he held when he began to think about starting his business.

“I was close to 30 and I realized that, despite having this experience in the investment world – before entering the fintech world, he worked as a trader in London – I was not doing anything with my money,” explains to Business Insider Spain the founder of Plum, who assures that he had in his mind the voice of his father reminding him to make the most of his money.

The problem was not so much that there were no instruments to invest, but that I was not clear on how to manage my finances and boost savings,” adds Trokoudes, who wanted it to be as simple as pressing a button to save.

Thus Plum was born. An application where you can include your accounts from other banks so that, thanks to technology, the app tells you how much you can save -there are several savings modes depending on the amount you want to generate-. This brain allows the user to save without leaving their accounts uncovered, pause saving for a while or change the percentage for a few weeks.

Who they are and what they offer you: 13 fintechs already operating in Spain and looking to unseat traditional banks

Under PSD2, the regulation governing financial payments, financial aggregators can collect your data from other accounts with your permission. However, this is the theory because, in practice, it’s not always that simple because of how banks’ data or their APIs are organized.

In the case of Plum, in Spain right now only data from Bankia, CaixaBank, Santander, BBVA, and Sabadell can be included in the application. In other words, if you are a customer of ING, for example, or if you have any other account in a neobank, you will not be able to use this application for the time being. Or, at least, it will not give you a complete picture of your personal finances.

Troukades points out that, although it is not possible now, they plan to add the rest of the banks to their roadmap, as is already the case in the United Kingdom, where they are some 18 months ahead of other European countries.

The other legs of the business: investment, comparator, and cashback

In addition to the savings, Plum was completed with a user version holistic version for the user, including an investment part. This option, which is not yet available in Spain, focuses on offering investment services with a range of ETFs for users to invest their savings. The advantage over other brokers, Troukades points out, is that its commissions are lower.

In addition to this option, there is a tariff comparator where users can see if their internet or telephone bill is average or if they can find something cheaper. Thanks to the use of artificial intelligence, the Plum user can compare with other similar customers. This function has not yet arrived in Spain either.

To finish off the catalog of functionalities, the app offers a range of CASH BACKS. The app also offers a range of shopping savings in some stores. This service is already available in Spain, although for the moment there are only a few stores where you can save on purchases.

Plum was born in 2017 in the United Kingdom and has just landed in Spain. Like most unlisted companies, it shares little economic data about its activity. Troukades agrees to say that they are not yet profitable, but little else.

It simply points out that they have 1.5 million users in the UK and expect to close 2021 with 3 million in that market. If all of Europe is taken into account, the target is to end this year with 5 million customers, including 500,000 in Spain.

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BBVA opens its application to customers of other banks to test their financial aggregator services

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BBVA has decided to open its mobile app for both iPhone and Android to customers of other banks. From now on, it will not be necessary to have an account with the bank to use the platform and its services such as the financial aggregator.

Thus, anyone will be able to access the bank’s application and try services such as the aggregation of their banks, the BBVA Valora tool (used to find out the estimated price of a home) or view their balance and movements, as well as perform some operations, such as initiating payments.

Who they are and what they offer: 13 fintechs already operating in Spain and seeking to unseat traditional banks

Once the other entities have been added, users will also be able to request transfers and consult their income and expenses in an orderly fashion to have total control of their finances and understand what they spend their money on, among other functionalities.

What BBVA intends to do with this step

BBVA has explained that with this project it intends to continue taking steps towards its goal of expanding its customer and user base, putting some of the functionalities and services available in its app into the hands of non-customers.

The director of Open Market at BBVA Spain, Leyre Baltza, said in a statement that opening the application to non-customers is a technological challenge, but also a firm commitment to a philosophy that is very close to the world of large technology companies, where the entry barriers to learning about or using a service are very low.

With this development, BBVA incorporates the elements of the e-commerce experience into its activity, such as the usual option of allowing users to continue as guests. There are also different levels of engagement when accessing a music or video platform.

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Samsung redoubles its bet on mid-range smartphones to conquer the market: “The pandemic has meant that we have to adapt quickly to change by listening to consumers.

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The mobile market in Spain is at a very interesting moment. Not only in terms of sales – where Chinese companies are increasingly taking more and more of the cake from historic leaders such as Samsung and Apple –but also in terms of technology.

Manufacturers are increasingly offering devices with tighter prices and better features, which complicates the consumer’s final purchase decision. In this regard, specifications originally intended for the high end – such as, for example, screens with 120Hz refresh rates, or IP67 certification (water and dust resistance) – are already visible in the mid-range, and at very reasonable prices.

Proof of this is the update of Samsung’s Galaxy A range, which includes the Galaxy A52, the Galaxy A52 5G, and the Galaxy A72. In fact, this is its most strategic line, as last year alone it cornered 64% of the multinational’ s total sales.

We are trying to bring high-end technology to the mid-range, such as support for fifth-generation networks, cameras with 64-megapixel sensors, OIS and water resistance (IP67) in affordable smartphones so that any user can enjoy the latest without having to shell out a large sum of money,” explains Mark Notton, Samsung’s Product Director for Europe during an interview with Business Insider Spain.

A year marked by the pandemic and listening to consumer needs

In this regard, the executive stresses the importance of the company’s adaptation to the times: “The pandemic has meant that we have had to adapt quickly to change, but always listening to consumers. That’s what they demanded from us“.

As Notton says, the situation when developing devices this year was marked by the COVID-19 crisis, which has left a large part of the population without income. “We had to offer those people with fewer resources terminals that they could buy and that they found attractive; on the other hand, we also had to satisfy the needs of those people who could spend a little more on technology because restrictions prevented them from spending that money on other things, such as vacations or travel,” he explains.

This two-pronged strategy has been possible because they have a great deal of innovation muscle. Specifically, the company spends about 8.9 billion dollars a year on R&D, a not insignificant figure: “Now users can choose a device depending on the feature they like, and we are not just talking about high-end: if they want a large screen, they can opt for the A72; if they are looking for speed, they have the A52 5G; while if they want something more economical with a good camera I recommend the A52,” he says.

So are the Galaxy A52, A52 5G, and A72: Samsung’s mid-range star is renewed with a very modern design, refresh rate up to 120 Hz, and better cameras.

“In fact, if you ask me, I would take the Galaxy A52 5G because I prefer that 120 Hz refresh rate and 5G networks for gaming, but in Spain – unlike in Germany or the UK – large panels triumph over any other feature,” he explains.

As a curiosity, the executive assures that both the Spanish and Portuguese are “very thrifty” customers who look a lot at quality/price, who don’t mind paying a little more if it works out better for them in the long run. “That’s why our technology is perfect for them,” he says with a smile.

5G accessible in 2021, but ‘foldable’ technology will still be exclusive for at least 3 years.

According to Notton, 5G will be a big trend this year, and not just for premium smartphones. It will also be key in mid-range phones, as well as in all kinds of home devices, as it will enable better connectivity, greater fluidity, and therefore, a better user experience.

“There is still a long year ahead and I can’t reveal how many of our devices will be compatible with this technology, but I can tell you that it will be increasingly accessible to everyone,” he stresses.

We launched the world’s first foldable cell phone – the Galaxy Fold –and we have continued to present many models incorporating this technology. These types of devices will reach the general public, but we probably won’t see them on a ‘mass scale’ for at least 3 or 4 years.”

“In product development, over the last 20 to 30 years, more and more efficient innovations are being made and the price of the products is going down. We will move in that direction, but it is still difficult to see how fast we will be.”

A complicated 2021: with chip shortages and Apple closer than ever before

Beyond adapting to new technologies, Samsung does not have a particularly easy year ahead. On the one hand, Gartner’s global results for 2020 announced that Apple had surpassed them for the first time in mobile sales since 2016 -specifically, the apple company achieved a market share of 20.8% compared to 16.2% of its rival-; on the other hand, the chip shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic threatens many firms, will it affect them too?

According to the executive, Samsung has been working for some time on a plan of attack to alleviate both drawbacks. For the first, the multinational brought forward the launch of its Galaxy S21 (something that brought it much joy, since analysts’ forecasts are quite positive), in addition to which they plan to strengthen their mid-range to improve that “lost volume”. “What we are seeing is cyclical. If you look at the market on an annual basis, many competitors are on the same line,” he says.

As for the problem of the global chip shortage, he says that they have “one eye on the market” but that, according to his analysis, it will not affect them. “At Samsung, we have a very vertical structure: we manufacture chips, batteries, screens… in other words, we make most of the components that we include in our devices. This is a competitive advantage over others. It is true that this industry moves very fast, but so do we, and we know how to adapt to the circumstances.”

We will have to wait until Wednesday to see if this plan of attack proves effective, but all indications are that it will.

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Novel technology is capable of converting 5G signal into power deliverable to other devices

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5G technology is still in a process of implementation, which operators and governments of many nations are working on right now, and which in the not too distant future will be finalized, with the result that this connectivity can be enjoyed over a much larger territory. But, like any big change, it takes time.

However, unlike its predecessor technologies, 5G can bring about a huge change in the way we interact with smart objects, but not only that – it can also give rise to some of the most curious products. And the best example is a wireless charger that uses the 5G signal to obtain energy to charge a device.

It is a device developed by Georgia Tech, with which “we can have a large antenna, which operates at higher frequencies and can receive power from any direction, which makes it much more practical” according to Jimmy Hester, lab advisor.

This experimental product manages to convert the 5G signal into a kind of wireless electrical network, which in turn is capable of powering smart devices, something that can have a large number of practical applications.

This antenna has been developed based on Rotman lenses capable of collecting waves in the 28GHz band, and with it has solved the problem that the antenna must be facing the transmission target, having a large coverage angle that is capable of supplying power to low-power devices nearby, in any direction. All the energy collected with the antennas would be combined and fed to a single rectifier, which would also improve the efficiency of power transmission.

The 4 keys to the arrival of 5G in Spain: all you need to know

This technology would open the doors to the creation of smart and portable products, which could not only be used inside homes but also in points of interest outside the home, such as wireless charging points that do not depend on direct electrical connection and that can generate it through these antennas.

“I’ve been working on energy harvesting conventionally for at least six years, and for most of that time, there didn’t seem to be a key to making energy harvesting work in the real world, due to FCC limits on power emission and targeting. With the advent of 5G networks, this could work, and we’ve demonstrated it. That’s very exciting: we could get rid of batteries,” says Jimmy Hester.

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Spanish unemployment falls below 4 million in its best March in 6 years while average employment and permanent contracts grow again

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Despite the fact that the economic vice-president, Nadia Calviño, had warned that the unemployment data to be published this Tuesday by the Ministry of Labor would not be positive for employment and was going to cause a downward revision of the Government’s macroeconomic forecasts, the labor market figures have revealed the best March in 6 years for unemployment, a historic increase in permanent contracts, mixed data for employment and a further reduction in workers on ERTE.

These are some of the main conclusions drawn from the unemployment figures registered with the State Public Employment Service (SEPE), which show that in March it fell by 59,149 people compared to the previous month, its best figure for this month since 2015 and its third-best historical record. Moreover, the total number of unemployed stands at 3.95 million people, behind the 4 million it reached in February and its January records.

This graph shows how Spain has become the leader in youth unemployment in Europe.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration has released the affiliation figures for March, which show that average employment increased by 70,790 contributors with respect to the previous month, to an average of 18.91 million affiliates, although, in seasonally adjusted terms, the number of contributors fell by 45,438, to a total of 19.03 million people, which means recovering 668,000 affiliates since May last year.

Unemployment fell again in the best March in history for permanent hiring

With regard to the registered unemployment data, Labor pointed out that the total number of unemployed “returns to below the 4 million mark” after 5 consecutive months of increases, putting an end to this trend “once the impact of the third wave of the pandemic has been overcome, which has allowed the easing of restrictions affecting economic activity”.

Beyond the month-on-month decline of 1.5% in unemployment, the March employment figures highlight the strong increase in permanent contracts, as shown in the graph below, which shows that a total of 207,191 permanent contracts were signed in March, 14.76% of the total, representing the best figure for this month in the entire historical series, which Labor has attributed “to the impetus of the work carried out by the Labor and Social Security Inspectorate“.

In addition, more than half of these contracts, 128,800, were full-time, while the remaining 78,400 were part-time. Meanwhile, 1.11 million temporary contracts were signed, of which 27.90% were for a specific job or service, 25.48% were temporary due to circumstances of production on a full-time basis and 26.68% were part-time.

As for segmentation by sex and age, female unemployment fell in March by 26,680 women, 1.16% less, while male unemployment fell by 32,469, 1.91% less, while unemployment among those under 25 years of age broke its trend and fell more sharply than in the older age groups, with 2.35% less than in February, while among those over 25 years of age it fell by 1.39%.

By sectors, the greatest fall in unemployment was recorded in the services sector, with 53,686 fewer unemployed than in February, in construction, with 7,685 fewer, and in industry, with 3,675 fewer, while agriculture is the branch of activity which generated the most unemployment in March, with 2,368 new unemployed, while another 3,529 were previously unemployed.

By region, only the Basque Country registered an increase in unemployment, with 993 more unemployed, while the other 16 autonomous regions saw a reduction in unemployment, led by Andalusia, with 16,925 fewer unemployed than in February, in the Valencian Community, with 8,897 fewer, and in Catalonia, with 6,390 fewer unemployed than in the previous month.

Mixed sign in employment and new reduction of those affected by ERTEs

As for Social Security affiliation, the different readings of the average data, where an increase of more than 70,000 contributors is recorded, and of the seasonally adjusted data, which shows its second consecutive monthly decline, reflect the slowdown in employment, which remains more than 330,000 contributors behind its February 2020 figures and with 85,800 fewer affiliates than 12 months ago.

However, the Ministry of Inclusion and Social Security has highlighted that “668,023 affiliates have recovered since May 2020, the lowest point after the impact of the pandemic on the labor market”, pointing out that the biggest declines in affiliation in seasonally adjusted data have corresponded to the services sector, with 34,000 less employed, and in agriculture, livestock and fishing, with 20,000 less.

On the other hand, the construction sector has once again added affiliates for the second consecutive month, with almost 6,000 more, after having suffered its first decline in January since the beginning of the pandemic, just as the industry has added 879 new contributors and has now accumulated 9 consecutive months of job creation. However, in average terms, the services sector was the one that gained the most affiliates, with 69,000 more, followed by construction, with 18,300 more, and industry, with 3,800 more.

By regimes, the general scheme reached 15.57 million employed after increasing by 53,831 workers, while the self-employed added 15,245 workers, reaching an average of 3.28 million members. Meanwhile, all the autonomous regions saw an increase in average affiliation in March, led by the Balearic Islands, with 1.52% more, Cantabria, with 0.89%, and Murcia, with 0.84% more.

As for workers affected by ERTE, it was reduced at the end of the third month of the year to 743,628 people, which means 115,913 workers less than at the end of February and 2.9 million less compared to “the most acute moment of the crisis, in April 2020”, according to Inclusion, which highlights that workers included in ERTE have been reduced by almost 80% compared to the spring of 2020.

The ministry points out that 528,098 affected by ERTE, which represents 71% of the total, are included “in some of the modalities that were implemented as of October 1, extended as of February 1, and which entail exonerations to the Social Security”. In addition, it highlights that 60.5% of the affiliates working in travel agencies are in ERTE, being the most affected sector after the accommodation sector, with 56.68% of jobs temporarily suspended.

By territories, Inclusion assures that “there is an important concentration in the areas with greater tourist activity”, highlighting that Las Palmas is the province with more workers in ERTE, with 15.75% of its employees in this situation, while Santa Cruz de Tenerife has 12.5% and Baleares, with 10.6%, while Guadalajara is the province with the least impact of the employment suspended by the pandemic, with only 2.3% of its employees in ERTE.

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