Virtue Technologies’ Managing Director Phil Lawson Wins Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2015 BIBAs

We are proud to announce that our Managing Director Phil Lawson is this year’s winner of the BIBA Award for Entrepreneur of the Year. Run by the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, the BIBAs is the ‘the one they all want to win’. That’s because businesses that win a BIBA get much more than just a trophy. The meticulous approach of the judging process, the BIBAs Winners’ Academy and the national profile of the event means those entrepreneurs that take part in the BIBAs take their minds and business to another level.

When asked what it felt like to win a BIBA award and what it means to him, Phil said “It is a great honour to win such a high profile award, although it is an individual award it is only made possible by all the wonderful people that work for and are in partnership with us”


The Entrepreneur of the Year Category was focused on the person behind the successful business. Key areas for any entrepreneur are the ability to innovate and to recognise opportunities. Even though Phil is relatively young, he has a vast amount of experience, skills and knowledge which has helped him have a good eye for spotting businesses with potential. Phil has identified many new opportunities for his business. With the skills and knowledge he has gained from being the Managing Director of Virtue Technologies it has enabled him to easily spot potential in start-up businesses.

Phil was once before short-listed for Entrepreneur of the year at the BIBA awards back in 2008, since then Phil’s achievements as an entrepreneur have excelled. As the Managing Director of Virtue Technologies, using this as a base, he has developed numerous businesses which has given him multiple roots into the one niche market. Being involved with multiple companies focused on dealing with the same sector, it continually gives Phil a better understanding and knowledge of the sector in which he operates. It further allows him to develop and grow start-up businesses to be successful and continue to develop and complement each other.

Phil demonstrates many different personality traits that make a successful entrepreneur. As any entrepreneur will tell you, there are numerous problems to overcome and it is not easy being an entrepreneur. Being passionate and resilient can only go so far. Phil’s strong sense of self confidence along with flexibility, knowledge and vision makes him successful. Phil believes both continuity and consistency are critical, whilst sometimes it is easy to be drawn by something new Phil always looks to the bigger plan and maintains continuity.

His eye for cutting edge innovation and keeping abreast of emerging business ideas, trends and technology allows him to make informed judgements on future strategies and trends. Phil displays these qualities on a daily basis, but a fine example of when he has demonstrated these qualities is through the many business opportunities he contributes towards, making them successful.

Phil’s sense of strong leadership has earned the trust and respect of his team by demonstrating positive work qualities and confidence. This is displayed on a daily basis in the gratified workplace he has created for his employees. Phil has a strong sense of basic ethics and integrity to all his shareholders whether it be maintaining loyal partnerships with suppliers or always having the customer’s best interest at heart. As Phil grew up on a farm he was involved in a business from a young age, the honesty and work ethic of his upbringing is conveyed in the culture of the companies he is involved in today.

The Virtue Technologies team would like to Congratulate Phil once more for his many achievements. Congratulations!

Here is why the BIBA judges chose Phil Lawson as the Winner of this year’s Entrepreneur of the year award


We are now official suppliers to Crown Commercial Services

We are proud to announce that Virtue Technologies, in partnership with Bramble Hub, are now official suppliers to Crown Commercial Services. In order to be accepted on to the framework, we were subject to rigorous due diligence by Crown Commercial Service, giving assurance to potential customers in the procurement of their education infrastructure from us.

Bramble Hub are specialists in helping ICT companies secure public sector contracts through UK Government frameworks. Its network of best-in-breed SMEs and niche specialists, provide high quality, flexible and cost effective solutions and services to over 250 UK Public Sector bodies.

The new Crown Commercial Services agreement provides public sector customers with the capability to obtain ICT goods and services tailored to the specific needs of a diverse range of educational establishments. The scope covers the full range of ICT goods, services and solutions operated by educational institutions including design, specification, supply, integration, implementation and testing, training, and support and maintenance (either all together as a packaged solution or in any combination required by customers).

The framework provides a range of delivery models including:

  • supply and fit
  • support and maintenance
  • systems configuration and management
  • partial or fully managed ICT service
  • complete integrated service with other technologies/partners
  • supply and integration of solutions into both green field (new build) situations and legacy
  • ICT environments requiring integration and repurposing of existing ICT

Plus, a range of ICT solutions including but not limited to:

  • hardware (servers and user computing devices)
  • software (operating systems, office productivity, network, security etc.)
  • networks (routers, switching, cabling, local area network infrastructures etc.)
  • peripheral equipment (printers, peripherals to support specialist curriculum provision.)
  • AV equipment
  • user devices(desktop computers, tablets, high specification devices)
  • mobile connectivity (as an integrated package within user devices)

For more information about the Crown Commercial Services or the ICT Services for Education Framework, please contact Philip McNair on 01695731233 or via email

Ben Whittle’s Uber Computer Update – Cooling and Airflow

Ben realised that as the Uber Computer is designed to be used in a bedroom where there is lots of dust, it is very important that all of the air intakes are filtered to prevent dust entering the compartments where the components will be. All of the components being visible through the top of the desk would not only be bad for looks, but having to clean it regularly would be a nightmare, as the only way into the compartments once the desk is built will be to remove the glass.

The high performance components will generate a lot of heat so good airflow through the main compartment is vital. Unfortunately the addition of filters restricts the airflow and may even require the use of a slightly different fan design to the standard fans just used to generate airflow. To help combat this Ben will be using 4 120mm fans mounted at the front of the desk which will suck air in through a single front mounted 480mm filter. The air will then be channelled to flow over the motherboard and other components and then through the vents in the expansion slots.

It really helps that most high end graphics cards generally intake from the air inside the chassis and exhaust through a vent in the expansion slot bracket as seen below:


The graphics cards will be getting fresh air drawn from the front of the desk and the cooling design of the cards means that it will complement the airflow design quite nicely. The only other expansion card Ben plans to install will be the NVMe based storage, these are rarely fan cooled but they usually do come with a fairly chunky heatsink. He has vented blanking plates to install in the empty slots which will provide more than enough airflow around this card to provide adequate cooling.


So the idea of the front intake fans is to generate airflow, but will a standard fan do the trick when mounted with a filter attached generating resistance? or will this require the use of a static pressure design? Only one way to find out…


After testing both fans with the filter mounted Ben was very surprised by how much of a difference the static pressure design makes when it comes to forcing air through a filter or radiator. The fan designed to generate airflow clearly projects the air further than the static pressure model as you would expect. When the filter is mounted to the standard fan you can barely feel any air on the other side of the filter, with the static pressure model airflow is only slightly reduced on the other side of the filter. Static pressure fans it is then!

Thermal Management

Traditionally computer fans always had 3 pins in the connector, a ground, supply and tach signal for monitoring speed. Some motherboards were able to control the speed of the fans but only by varying the voltage/current available on that particular fan header until the fan reached the desired rotation speed. More modern fans receive a constant voltage and the rotation speed is determined via an on-board speed controller using pulse width modulation sent down a 4th wire.

As all of Ben’s intake fans are facing the same direction he sees having to set an RPM/temperature curve for each one individually as an unnecessary inconvenience. As the speed control signal is only one way and the rotation speed is still sent back down a separate wire his hope is that he will be able to link the PWM wire of all 4 fans together and control them all together, while still being able to monitor the speeds of each fan individually by connecting the tach wire to the relevant pin on the motherboards other fan headers.

The success of this is highly dependent on how the motherboard behaves if it realizes that individual PWM signals are making no difference to the fans rotation speed. At this stage the board may assume the fans connected are standard 3-pin fans and revert to the old way of controlling them and adjust the output voltage and current. If this happens he will have to supply 12v directly from the power supply in order for the fans to all receive a consistent current. Ben may have to give up on the idea of monitoring individual fan speeds altogether if it causes undesired results in the management software. This wouldn’t be a particularly big issue anyway, if a fan did fail there are four in a row and all of the temperatures are still monitored so there is no risk of failure due to overheating.

Ben says he will almost certainly be using an Asus motherboard in this system and he has found the options for fan control and thermal management on these boards to be plentiful to say the least. Ben’s current system allows him to set a RPM/temperature curve for each individual fan based on a fan and sensor combination of your choice, a very versatile system which allows you to have a virtually silent system under light load and a well cooled system under heavy load. The system works flawlessly in a standard build but to figure out how well it will behave in this more bespoke applications he will have to experiment a little.

Stay tuned for more Uber Computer updates.


Achievement through innovation

Whether you are an education expert looking for fresh ideas – or you are looking to pick up some free additional CPD training and advice about how to integrate technology and innovation into learning – Education Innovation will be for you.

We realise that time and resources are incredibly valuable for education professionals and also that when correctly implemented and applied, technology and innovation can help to raise the performance of staff and the achievement of pupils.

We know that the vast majority of national events are held in London and the South East, so this year we’re exhibiting at a national conference and exhibition which is free and accessible to a much broader range of our customers.

The free, two-day, national event takes place at Manchester Central on the 27/28 February and will offer access to inspirational keynote speakers, CPD training, workshops, and a full exhibition of innovative solutions.

The event is designed to help education professionals to raise achievement and performance by effectively integrating innovation and technology into the learning environment.  It includes contributions from Government ministers, the Department for Education, OFSTED, BIS, Naace, NFER, NTAB, IoE, Jisc, BCS and many more.

The theme of the event is “achievement though innovation” with topics covered including:

  • Improving your OFSTED performance
  • Guidance on implementing the new curriculum
  • E-safety and dealing with cyberbullying
  • Mobile learning, tablets and BYOD
  • More effective use of MIS / Cloud Computing / Data management
  • Apprenticeships and innovative ways to encourage entrepreneurism
  • More effective and efficient procurement
  • Change management for introducing computing into the curriculum
  • Technology supporting dyslexia and autism

See the website to view the amazing line up of speakers and supporters, or to put your institution forward for an Education Innovation Award (closing deadline 31st January).

Education Innovation is also co-located with:

Find out more at

We hope to see you there!