Home Finance & Investments Flexible funding launched to help Yorkshire SMEs boost broadband speeds

Flexible funding launched to help Yorkshire SMEs boost broadband speeds

Muz Mumtaz, Digital Enterprise

New, more flexible funding is now available for Yorkshire businesses held back by slow broadband speeds. The Government-backed Digital Enterprise programme has been extended to offer funding for a wider range of connectivity and broadband projects starting from £500, with up to £1,000 of funding available to help firms cover the costs.

Launched in 2017 as a one-off £1,000 contribution towards improving connection speeds for companies in the Leeds City Region, Connectivity Vouchers have now been extended to cover the costs of smaller projects, making them more widely available to businesses.

The funding can be used to cover most of the costs involved in securing a faster broadband connection, including hardware such as firewalls and routers, as well as software, installation costs, ethernet cabling, virtual servers and project management fees. Businesses can apply if their current broadband speed is less than 30 mbps, or if they plan to double the speed of a connection that is already 30 mbps or faster.

Muz Mumtaz, who heads the Digital Enterprise programme, said: “We wanted to make the Connectivity Vouchers even more accessible to businesses in the Leeds City Region and by broadening our funding we can get more companies equipped with faster broadband speeds that are essential to compete, whether at a regional, national or global level. In many cases our Connectivity Voucher can cover the total cost of upgrading a business’ broadband connection.”

He added: “It’s really simple to apply and through our Connectivity Voucher and Digital Growth Voucher programmes Digital Enterprise has already helped over 700 Yorkshire businesses to boost their broadband connectivity and upgrade their digital technology with a total of £3.4m investment since 2017. The great news is that this investment is expected to create over 1,800 new jobs across the Leeds City Region.

“There are a limited number of Connectivity Vouchers available and once they are gone they’re gone, so I would urge businesses who want to improve their broadband speeds to apply now before it is too late.”

Duncan Oakes, commercial director at Harrogate-based Clearpoint Recycling, which received £1,000 to help improve the firm’s connectivity in 2017, said the funding had been transformational for his business. “We were able to use that £1,000 from Digital Enterprise to kickstart a revolution in the IT infrastructure at Clearpoint. It also made us realise that we could aim much higher and be more ambitious than we had previously,” he said.

“The funding has been a catalyst for growth and we have expanded exponentially since we received it, going from a five-person outfit to a team of 25,” added Mr Oakes.

Digital Enterprise is funded by the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, its nine local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund.