A new, locally developed grant scheme to support the growth and resilience of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has launched this week.
The Digital Technology Grants for Business scheme aims to increase the number of local SMEs making productive use of digital technologies to boost their business - by helping them to invest in digital equipment, systems and support.
Connecting Cambridgeshire has secured just over £1million funding from the European Regional Development Fund and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority to run the scheme from February 2021 until the end of August 2021.
SMEs in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough with plans or ideas to grow, improve or sustain their business using digital technology can now apply for a grant of between £2,000 and £10,000 to cover up to 80% of their total project costs.
The combined grant and match funding from SMEs to aid improvements in information and communications technology for eligible businesses is expected to inject upwards of £1.4million into the local economy.
Evidence suggests that SMEs with a strong online presence on average grow more than twice as quickly as those with minimal or no presence, export twice as much, and create twice as many jobs1. In addition, a survey of 1,000 UK-based businesses found digital capabilities helped boost revenues by 4.4% and reduce costs by 4.3%2.
Eligible SMEs will be able to use grants to support the introduction or development of digital technologies to help them adapt their operations and secure opportunities in the current, more challenging trading environments.
The scheme will support a wide range of businesses who want to develop more sustainable business practices, including remote working and more efficient business models using digital technology.
For example, businesses needing better IT systems or equipment to support staff to work remotely could use the grant towards this to help their business continue to grow or diversify. Businesses looking to develop their on-line presence can submit projects that include consultancy services, equipment and training to develop their skills.
Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough James Palmer said: "By providing funding for these grants we are enabling local businesses to become more sustainable in response to the current challenging economic circumstances. New online business models, products and services, and enhanced infrastructure will enable our local businesses to trade in a much more robust manner in the long term."
Cambridgeshire County Council Leader, Councillor Steve Count, said: "Connecting Cambridgeshire's Digital Technology Grants for Business scheme will support economic growth and resilience by opening up new opportunities for local businesses. Embracing digital has the potential to make every eligible business within Cambridgeshire more productive, wherever they are located."
Businesses can find full details of the Digital Technology Grants for Business scheme on the Connecting Cambridgeshire website. They will then need to complete an expression of interest form to confirm their eligibility before applying: https://www.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk/digitalgrants
1 Oxford Economics, 2015. The UK's £92bn digital opportunity.
2 BIS, 2015. Digital Capabilities in SMEs.