Superfast Business Cornwall, which aims to boost business competiveness through increased understanding and exploitation of digital technology, has announced funding for digital projects that develop new products and services and create jobs.
The service runs until March 2019 and is fully funded by the European Regional Development Fund, so there is no charge for eligible businesses, start-ups and social enterprises to participate. The support gives small and medium sized businesses in Cornwall the opportunity to learn about the benefits of exploiting the latest digital technology in small group workshops with a Business Adviser. This is followed by one to one bespoke support from an Adviser to develop an action plan to help the business adopt technology in line with their business strategy. Support from private sector specialists is also available with a range of digital masterclasses and 1-2-1 advice.
Eligible businesses can also apply for funding of up to £25,000. Grant investment is for new digital projects that enable or accelerate the development of a new product or service, give access to new markets, and create jobs. The digital project must be enabled by superfast broadband. Grants can fund revenue elements of the project but not capital items or websites. The grant is not available for start up organisations.
Businesses will need to be able to match fund 50% of the project and provide clear evidence of how the investment will lead to business growth and new jobs based in Cornwall or the Isles of Scilly. The funding is available through the European Regional development fund therefore both the business and the project will have to meet eligibility criteria.
Examples of potential projects include new software development, remote monitoring, remote working, collaboration technologies, large data transfer, live high quality video streaming, moving resources to the Cloud, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and app development.
Applications are now open for larger projects, valued over £20,000, to receive 50% match funding up to £25,000. The deadline for applications is 1st June 2017. If funds remain after that a further round of applications for larger projects will be open later in the year. Smaller projects between £4,000 and £20,000 (funding of £2,000- £10,000) will be considered at any time.
Mike Robertson, Superfast Business Cornwall team leader and Digital Business Enabler, said: “This is a great opportunity for businesses to accelerate their digital and growth ambitions. Bids can be progressed very quickly and support to complete applications and implement projects is available from our specialist Digital Business Enablers.”
One business already benefitting from the funding is ashortwalk, a Cornish eco-business which transforms household waste into reusable, modern homewares, signs and garden accessories.
The Perranporth-based firm received match funding for new online software to help customers design their own house signs, a move which is expected to grow sales, reduce manufacturing waste and save time.
Owner Dan Dicker, who left his job as a product designer for global technology giant Dyson to set up his business in 2003, said: “We wouldn’t have been able to get to this point without the support of Superfast Business Cornwall, and with our new digital focus there are real growth opportunities for the future. We are already looking to take on two new members of staff.
“The grant application wasn’t onerous. The questions were sensible and covered what you would ask yourself as a business owner to check you are making a rational investment. Procurement requirements were straightforward best practice, and I had the benefit of help from the Superfast Business Cornwall team from start to finish.”
For information on grant funding applications, to see if your business is eligible and to learn more about benefitting from the Superfast Business Cornwall service, visit www.sfbcornwall.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0345 6003936.