Helping SMEs go digital

Dealing with the increasingly digital world can be a major challenge for small businesses in all sectors.

However, funding is available to help SMEs in the Leeds City Region grow by upgrading their digital infrastructure, technology and connectivity.

The Digital Enterprise programme, which is backed by the LEP, the government and the EU, invested £1.7m in digital projects in 2017, an investment that is set to deliver a £5m boost to the regional economy and generate more than 1,200 jobs.

Businesses can check their eligibility for the current round of ‘Connectivity Vouchers’ on the website.

The vouchers offer £1,000 of unmatched funding for small businesses with sluggish broadband speeds, or for organisations that have high levels of data to transfer and need to improve their upload and download speeds.

Muz Mumtaz, who heads the Digital Enterprise programme, said: “We now have over 300 broadband suppliers on board, which makes the whole programme extremely accessible to businesses right across the region.

“These days a fast internet connection is a prerequisite for SMEs in order to compete effectively, and we are seeing businesses across a wide range of industry sectors applying for the vouchers.”

He added: “Businesses are coming to recognise the transformational powers of cloud computing and the flexibility and cost savings that it can deliver.

“VoIP telephone services – previously the exclusive domain of large firms – are also now within easy reach of small businesses, so long as they have sufficiently fast internet speeds to make it practical, and typically deliver cost savings of more than 25 per cent on telephone bills.

“The Connectivity Vouchers represent a one-off payment of £1,000 towards upgrading a business broadband connection and in most cases that is ample to achieve a high speed connection that will support the options of cloud computing and VoIP.

“We are launching phase three of our ‘Digital Growth Voucher’ scheme, providing eligible businesses with between £2,000 and £10,000 to invest in digital technology, so that they can become slicker, more competitive and help them achieve digital transformation.”

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