Date: 13th November 2020
At the start of the year, no-one could have predicted how our lives would change as a result of COVID-19. For businesses, the pandemic presented challenges they had never faced before and ones we are still living with today. For many, growth aspirations were no longer a priority as they focussed on how they could continue to operate during a lockdown that would stretch on for months.
At Digital Enterprise, we have always been keen to help businesses develop their digital capabilities so that they could grow, but with the arrival of lockdown it soon became apparent that we also needed to help them become more resilient so that they could survive – for instance, the ability to work remotely from home had become a necessity rather than a luxury for many organisations.
In June, thanks to £2 million of funding provided by West Yorkshire Combined Authority/Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Digital Enterprise launched the Digital Resilience Voucher funding scheme for small businesses that were looking to invest in digital technology solutions that would help them operate during crises like the one we face today.
Worth between £500 and £5,000, the voucher would cover up to 50% of the costs of purchasing technology to help business continue to operate when faced by difficult circumstances – for instance hardware and software, such as laptops, so that employees can work from home; developing websites; introducing collaboration tools like MS Teams; or improving broadband/digital connectivity.
On its launch, the scheme proved to be phenomenally successful closing within five days due to exceeding availability – with 500 businesses applying for assistance.
Muz Mumtaz, Head of the Digital Enterprise programme said: “Our Digital Resilience Voucher was created to help small businesses to become more resilient in times of crisis, to help them adapt and be more flexible when it is required, and ensure they can continue to operate effectively and provide a high level of service for their customers.
“Many of the changes which have been made such as homeworking and video conferencing via Zoom, will undoubtedly become the new ‘norm’ for some organisations. We are pleased to have been able to assist so many businesses in such a short period of time and we hope that with our help they will be able to adapt and secure their future.
“Our Digital Resilience Voucher scheme may have had to close due to demand, but we have a number of other technology funding schemes which businesses can take advantage of which will help them to continue to operate and prosper in the future.”
Eligible businesses can still take advantage of Digital Enterprise’s Digital Growth Voucher scheme offering up to £12,500 of funding for a digital transformation project or the Connectivity+ Voucher scheme providing up to £3,000 for businesses to upgrade their digital/broadband connectivity.