Date: 18th September 2017
Digital Enterprise will be launching a new Voucher product in late September – a Connectivity Voucher.
The Voucher will be a grant of £1000 to help eligible SMEs (Small to Medium Sized Enterprises), cover the initial cost of upgrading their digital /broadband connectivity.
Many small firms that wish to grow and achieve digital transformation are limited by the quality of their digital connection, including limited bandwidth (up and downstream), high levels of contention with some technologies (FTTC) or the cost of upgrading to a dedicated connection (ISDN or excess construction charges etc) due to their location.
Hence the Connectivity Voucher is being introduced to address some of the barriers mentioned above to help small firms acquire business grade connectivity, to scale up and achieve digital maturity. Vouchers can be used for a range of costs associated with upgrading a digital connection, including;
- The actual cost of the installation i.e. the cost of the physical connection, including excess construction costs to reach a network.
- Hardware related to facilitating the connection e.g. a firewall, router, receiver/antennae (for wireless connections).
- Virtual servers & software licences (subject to limitation of upfront costs only)
- Consultancy/project management cost to install a connection – capped at 25% of the value (£250) of a voucher.
Connectivity Vouchers are intended to help firms upgrade to high speed business grade broadband, which includes;
- Download speeds in excess of 30 mgbs (or if the current download speed is above 30 mgbs, then a new higher speed connection, which doubles the broadband speed).
- Higher upload speeds.
- Low or no contention levels
The typical types of technology that a Connectivity Voucher can be used for include;-
- Fibre to the premise, including dark fibre connections
- Fast wireless, including Mesh, point to point/line of sight and WIMAX solutions.
- Ethernet point-to-point (p2p)
However, alternative digital connectivity technologies will be considered where it is demonstrated that the cost and quality are comparable to those mentioned above.
Please note – you can only apply for one strand of the Digital Enterprise programme.
Typical profile of applicants
Firms that wish to apply for a Connectivity Voucher will need to be eligible for ERDF Funding i.e. SMEs (under 250 employees, turnover under 50 million Euros and a balance sheet under 43 million Euros), based in the Leeds city region and with predominantly Business to business activity (+90%).
Also, the value of investment projects under this scheme should be at least £1000, to be eligible.
However, we are particularly keen to receive applications from the following profile of business;
- Smaller firms (with 1-10 employees) over 12 months old.
- Businesses operating from their own dedicated business premises i.e. not home based businesses. Also, businesses sharing a business unit with another business will not be eligible, as it will be impossible to attribute the expenditure, benefit or impact of the enhanced connection to a specific business – which is a requirement under ERDF funding criteria.
- Businesses which can demonstrate a clear aspiration to achieve to digital transformation i.e. firms which are aiming to deploy cloud based solutions
- Firms involved in high levels of data transfer, with a clear business requirement for high upload and download transfer speeds, with little or no contention limitations.
- Firms based in city centres or rural areas, which have little viable alternative connectivity options due to poor network coverage by mainstream providers.
- Firms developing new-to-the-firm products or services, facilitated by high speed connectivity.
- Applicants not involved in other aspects of the Digital Enterprise Programme.
You can apply for a Connectivity Voucher by first completing an eligibility check – see Eligibility Checker.