The UK government is unlikely to relinquish full control over infrastructure planning to an independent infrastructure commission, according to senior managers at Heathrow Airport and the UK’s high-speed rail management company.Beth West, commercial director at HS2 Limited, said she thought the idea of an independent commission – proposed last month in a report by the former chairman of the London Olympic Delivery Authority – was a sound one.But she said it would nonetheless be “challenging” to completely de-politicise the construction of large-scale infrastructure projects.John Holland-Kaye, development director at London’s Heathrow Airport, added that he could envisage a role for an independent body, and pointed to the current Davies Commission’s deliberations on the expansion of the airport capacity in the UK as such an undertaking, if on a smaller scale. Speaking at the inaugural IPE/Stirling Capital Partners infrastructure conference in London, West, however, noted that funding issues on government projects, such as the £17.1bn (€20.4bn) state-funded first phase of the rail line, would ultimately be linked to “various” political issues.“It’s a good idea to have a good cross-government or independent body that can look across infrastructure to make those advisory kind of statements, but it would be challenging to truly remove it from a political process,” she said.Holland-Kaye agreed with her, citing HS2 as a prime example for why politicians would never surrender control.“Look at HS2,” he said. “The size of the funding is so enormous politicians are going to want to control that.“In practice, anybody will play the part of acting as an independent evaluator on behalf of the country.”James Wardlaw, a partner at Campbell Lutyens, meanwhile noted that comparisons with Australia’s independent advisory body Infrastructure Australia neglected the fact the country had dedicated infrastructure ministers on Commonwealth and State level.“What they are therefore able to do is bring together the various elements of infrastructure and decide on the priorities,” he said, “whereas in [the UK], you have about six different departments involved in infrastructure decisions, and the way in which that comes together and [they] decide public spending priorities happens once every three years.”He said the current institutional framework was “definitely sub-optimal” and pointed towards the UK energy market as an example of the problems faced in the country.“We have effectively two energy ministries, the DECC and the Treasury, which are pursuing completely different policies,” Wardlaw said of the Department of Energy & Climate Change and the UK department in charge of government spending.While the Liberal Democrat-controlled DECC is in favour of renewable energy, Conservative chancellor George Osborne is a proponent of fracking for shale gas as a means of strengthening the UK’s energy independence.Zoltan Bognar, managing director of renewables investor Capital Stage, said it was therefore more important for a market to have reliability over an independent body advising on development.“Investor trust and confidence relies very much on our commitments being met,” he said. “Are they being delivered over 20 years or longer?”His firm, investing in Italy and Germany after chancellor Angela Merkel introduced her policy of Energiewende in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, could potentially invest in other countries “where solar or wind makes a lot of sense from a geographic or even macroeconomic perspective”.But he added that issues of corruption and political reliability weighed heavily on investors’ minds.
Junior linebacker Chris Borland was forced to miss the Ohio State game with a hamstring injury but is looking to return this weekend against Penn State.[/media-credit]Following an emotional 21-14 overtime loss to Ohio State Saturday at Camp Randall, the Wisconsin football team will be looking to recover quickly from heartbreak as they travel to State College, Pa., to face Penn State in its Big Ten regular season finale.Head coach Bret Bielema addressed the demoralizing loss from the weekend before turning focus to Penn State at his weekly press conference Monday.In Wisconsin’s last eight losses, the margin of defeat has been a touchdown or less, and Bielema admitted just a few mistakes can lead to a more favorable outcome.“If you don’t take advantage of maybe a touchdown throw here, a tackle here, that’s what gives you a loss,” Bielema said,Nonetheless, the Badgers have certainly shown resiliency under Bielema, having never lost back-to-back games in the month of November, going a perfect 3-0.But a rebounding win will not be a simple task this week as Penn State (7-4, 5-2 Big Ten) and senior quarterback Matt McGloin the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week – await Wisconsin (7-4, 4-3).McGloin dominated Indiana through the air by completing 22 of 32 passes for 395 yards and four touchdowns in a convincing 45-22 victory Saturday. McGloin also set Penn State records in career touchdowns, career 200-yard passing games, season completions and season passing yards in the rout.“He really understands the role that he has at quarterback in that system,” Bielema said of McGloin. “He’s obviously a very intelligent, very competitive kid. … You can see why the kids play hard around him.”McGloin is one of several Nittany Lion seniors that elected to remain at Penn State after a tumultuous offseason in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. Despite NCAA sanctions and the death of longtime head coach Joe Paterno, the Nittany Lions have largely exceeded preseason expectations during head coach Bill O’Brien’s first full season.“[It’s] very easy to see that they’ve gotten better every week – offense, defense, special teams,” Bielema said. “I think their coach is getting more and more familiar with what they can bring to the table.”Injury updatesDepending on the health of many Badgers, Wisconsin may not be able to field its top players. The Badgers are hoping redshirt sophomore right tackle Rob Havenstein and middle linebacker Chris Borland will be able to recover from injuries in time for Saturday’s matchup.Bielema said Havenstein could possibly return to practice later this week coming off a mild MCL sprain. Chris Borland’s status is looking positive after he suffered a hamstring injury against Indiana. The junior linebacker’s aggressive, consistent this season have helped anchor the 14th-best scoring defense in the nation.“[Borland’s] feeling very, very well,” Bielema said. “He’ll get in the pool and do some more running here today and we’ll hopefully see where he can be for tomorrow afternoon’s practice.”Bielema noted that given Wisconsin’s proximity to the end of the season, the team may adjust its practice schedule as it prepares for the Nittany Lions.“I gave [the team] Sunday to get a jump start on Penn State, we have today off and then we’ll jump into tomorrow’s practice,” Bielema said. “I think it’s important for us to know that we are at the end of a 12-game stretch here where they’ve battled their all, they’ve gotten to a 7-4 mark.“I think the mental fatigue and the physical fatigue is real, so as a head coach I’ve got to be smart with what we ask guys to do this week, especially with the Thanksgiving week and all the scheduling things that brings.”The Badgers will look to build momentum heading into the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis Dec. 1. Additionally, Wisconsin’s seniors will be looking to play their way into the Badger record book, as a win over Penn State would tie the mark of 40 victories in a four-year span set by the class of 2007.The next class to come through the Wisconsin program will likely have a completely different slate over four years as two new teams – Maryland and Rutgers – are planning to join the Big Ten in 2014-15. At the time of the press conference, Bielema had limited time to think about the move, but he noted that it does benefit UW’s recruiting efforts on the East Coast. “We do go against Rutgers quite a bit in recruiting when we’re in New Jersey, New York, even in on the eastern side of the country in Florida,” Bielema said. “I’m excited. Every time the commissioner and the athletic directors have come up with a plan, that’s been very, very positive. I’m assuming this will be as well.”
It has been announced today that Betgenius, an arm of Genius Sports, and Unikrn have signed a partnership. Moritz Maurer, BetgeniusSports data and technology company Genius already supply the esports market odds to Betway and Sky Bet, and henceforth Unikrn will now benefit from the same package. This means that the esports only bookmaker will soon offer live markets and enter new European territories for real money betting.The partnership though is far more than just odds and markets. Genius Sports’ Head of Esports Moritz Maurer told Esports Insider: “We’re delighted to announce our partnership with Unikrn. They’re the most endemic of esports bookmaker in that they’ve built, and are building, an esports community of fans. They’re esports only and this is part of what attracted us to them.“We’ll be working with them to ensure that they can fully utilise our data and full offering to grow and expand beyond their already strong base. We have some big plans for new features and to build a truly immersive platform. With near immediate effect Unikrn will be benefiting from our comprehensive market offering; we offer over 450 unique live markets for more than 7,000 events annually.”Unikrn CEO Rahul Sood meanwhile told ESI: “The Genius Sports partnership is one important component to our European expansion. We will be able to talk more about it soon, but for the moment just know we are working on creating a very immersive esports betting platform and Genius are working with us on the execution.“In recent times Genius Sports has re-positioned itself as a sports data company first and foremost, and whilst betting remains a key part of its offering, it’s only part of the full package. Maurer told ESI how the ‘capabilities of the platform in full are wide ranging and diverse.”Back in April, Genius established a partnership with FACEIT, whose ECS Finals are this weekend at Wembley. This has been aimed at ‘enhancing the way data and statistics are used in the ECS. In football Genius has similar arrangements in place with the likes of the Premier League and La Liga.The work they’re doing with ECS is expansive, and you can read more about this in an interview here, but a key part of it is around integrity. Maurer will be delivering an integrity workshop ahead of the ECS this week on the evening of Thursday June 21st.We asked whether the data driven approach by Genius also has a potential benefit for teams in esports. Maurer detailed that this is something they’re working hard on, and they’re in a number of discussions with organisations and third parties about how best to address this.Ultimately though this is the area of the work they’re doing that he believes could have the most exciting impact on the esports ecosystem. From utilising their data they can help teams with roster picks, strategy and commercialisation.Maurer commented: “Through the Genius esports platform we have effectively built a sustainable commercial framework designed to unlock potentials of data assets for rights holders through distribution via our products in media & betting while also delivering a suite of service & technology to stakeholders in the ecosystem”Genius is clearly aiming to harness data to provide beneficial options for stakeholders across esports. Its work in traditional sports in this regard is testament to the company’s potential to do so, but esports is of course a different kettle of fish.The company is aiming to align itself with the rightsholders in the space in order to best reach this goal. Maurer noted that they hope to reveal other similar deals to the partnership with FACEIT “in the near future”.The notion of a rising tide lifts all ships is evident here, and regulated and trustworthy organisations such as Genius Sports, ESIC and Sportradar are working hard on strengthening the backbone of esports as a whole. In regards to the betting space, it is companies like these that are helping to crackdown on the much discussed unlicensed skins betting space too.Esports Insider says: A huge piece of news for both Unikrn and Genius Sports. The work Genius are doing in regards to harnessing data for esports companies to make use of is undoubtedly interesting, and its potential in not just betting but the wider ecosystem is obvious. We look forward to seeing what comes out of this partnership.